"As part of Illumini’s festival of subterranean London the group were promising Mysteries & ghosts of London Underground a talk by a member of London Underground staff about the ghosts and ghoulish goings on of our ancient Tube system.
Our host told us you wouldn’t hear much about spook stories from the Tube staff as it was a topic they were dissuaded from talking about but despite the hush-hush nature of the stories there were lots to share.
Popular cases such as The Passenger, a ghostly imprint on a CCTV system, the Black Nun of Bank station, the Highgate ghost train and the weeping women and children of Bethnal Green may not have been new to the packed out audience but were much more entertaining told in the crypt of Shoreditch Town Hall. With the idea of death all around us the destruction of crypts, plague pits and mass burial grounds seemed a little bit closer than on the well lit carriages we spend too much of our time on.
"The horribly haunted tales of Kennington Loop, where invisible hands slam the doors between carriages on empty trains; York Road’s rotten meat smells, possibly strengthened by the refusal of many cleaning staff to enter and the start of the Bakerloo line in Elephant and Castle, having a walled off plague pit hidden behind the brick face at the end of the tunnel, were shared. But these stories are not too far hidden from public consumption having been revealed in many subterranean London books and ghost guides of the city and the not so old Channel 5 programme Ghosts on the Underground (which you should definitely watch if you’re interested in ghost stories).
The host’s personal experiences of exploring abandoned stations and boarded up doors on quiet parts of train lines were the real highlight. Having the opportunity to explore the tunnels under Waterloo with a colleague she stumbled upon a locked door that, on removal, surrendered secrets of its previous use as a morgue in WW2. Crumbling ledgers, now housed at the British Library, detailing dead bodies and lost limbs of the victims of the Blitz were lucky to be saved and hint at a hidden history we’re still stumbling on in the dark.
The talk left me with a feeling I should definitely become a Tube driver so I could experience some of the horror first hand and bathe in a secret world of the London we non-Tube working people rarely get a glimpse of but this will most likely manifest into comfort in the knowledge that every now and then there’s a ghost on a carriage with me, or stood silently on the platform only to be ousted as such after hours when only the station guards are there to see."
Thanks Charlotte for sharing that very insightful write up of the event.