The Haunted Stations of the London Underground

Check out Chris Halton's blog about the ghostly goings on in London's Underground railway stations.

Here are a few of the stories - read the whole article at the above link.


The now closed Strand Station on the London Underground
The London Underground… over 50% of which is actually above ground… serves a large part of Greater London and neighbouring areas in Essex, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire. It is commonly known as the Underground or the Tube, the latter nick-name deriving from the shape of the system's deep-bore tunnels. It is not only the longest underground railway in the world by route length (over 250 miles) it is also the world’s oldest. The Metropolitan Railway Company opened its Metropolitan Line for business on 10th January 1863 and within months its trains were carrying over 26,000 passengers daily. Today, 145 years later, the London Underground can boast 11 lines (Bakerloo, Central, Circle, District, Hammersmith & City, Jubilee, Metropolitan, Northern, Piccadilly, Victoria and Waterloo & City). It serves 268 stations by rail and an additional 6 stations that were on the East London line (closed in 2007) are served by Underground replacement buses. 14 Underground stations are outside Greater London and 5 of those (Amersham, Chalfont & Latimer, Chesham, Chorleywood, Epping) are beyond the M25 London Orbital motorway. Of the 32 London boroughs, only 6 (Bexley, Bromley, Croydon, Kingston, Sutton and Hackney) are not served by the Underground network. In 2007 a billion people travelled on the network.

Ever since the first line was opened in 1863, however, one of the major headaches facing the engineers and the army of construction workers commissioned to expand and develop the network has been the presence of huge burial pits dating back to the summer of 1665 when London was ravaged by an outbreak of bubonic plague (a.k.a. the Black Death).

Since no-one knew for certain how many of these plague pits were actually dug, nor where they were located with any degree of accuracy, it was inevitable that as the railway network continued to expand more and more of these 17th century plague pits would be disturbed often without any warning. This is exactly what happened when the Victoria Line was being constructed in the 1960s. A huge tunnel boring machine ploughed straight into a long-forgotten plague pit at Green Park traumatising several brawny construction workers on site.

To the southern end of the London Road Depot (Bakerloo Line) there are two tunnels. One exits onto the running line between Lambeth North and Elephant & Castle stations. The other is a dead-end tunnel designed to stop runaway trains. Behind the wall, however, at the end of this particular dead-end tunnel is yet another one of London’s many plague pits.

Liverpool Street Station, the London terminus of the former Great Eastern Railway, is actually built upon a plague pit as is Aldgate Station (on the Circle Line) and the Piccadilly Line between Knightsbridge and South Kensington is said to curve around "a pit so dense with human remains that it could not be tunnelled through".

Setting aside the awful legacy of the plague pits for a moment, the London Underground has also witnessed its own fair share of human tragedy in the last 145 years.

People have been killed building the network. People have been killed maintaining the network. People have died of natural causes on the network. People have been murdered on the network. Others have used the network to “end it all” by throwing themselves in front of a speeding train. There have been train crashes, derailments and major fires on the network that have all claimed lives. In the dark days of the Blitz on London, Adolf Hitler’s Luftwaffe scored direct hits on a number of Underground stations causing devastation, disruption and loss of life and the Underground has also been the target of terrorists on more than one occasion. The most recent terrorist attack occurred on 7th July 2005 when suicide bombers claimed the lives of scores of people.

Given that the London Underground has carved its way through a veritable charnel house of decaying corpses…many of whom were interred with little or no dignity and without any funerary rights…and that it has also witnessed thousands of sudden and often very violent deaths since it first opened for business in 1863, is it any wonder that the London Underground has acquired a reputation for ghostly goings on?

As someone who has, from a very early age, firmly believed that the soul survives the physical death of the body it would actually be more of a shock to me if the London Underground wasn’t haunted and what follows, therefore, is a quick trawl (in alphabetical order) through some of the Underground’s most often repeated ghost stories.

I sincerely hope that the reader will enjoy reading these stories as much as I did researching them for this article.

This tube station is located at Aldgate in the City of London. On the Circle Line between Tower Hill and Liverpool Street it is the eastern terminus of the Metropolitan Line and it was opened on November 18, 1876. It was built on the site of a plague pit in which, according to the author Daniel Defoe in his “Journal of a Plague Year”, 1,000 bodies were buried in only two weeks during the plague of 1665. The station was badly damaged by German bombing during World War II.

Some years ago, an electrician working at the station made what should have been his last mistake. Somehow he managed to send over 20,000 volts of electricity through his own body. By all accounts he should have been killed. Instead, however, he was just knocked unconscious and, apart from bruising his forehead, he was otherwise unharmed. His colleagues had been watching him just before the accident happened. Once he had sufficiently recovered, his colleagues all swore that, just prior to the incident that should have claimed his life, they had seen an almost transparent figure of an old lady standing alongside him gently stroking his hair. I guess the electrician wasn’t the only one who had a shock that fateful day…
Phantom footsteps, that end abruptly, have also been heard coming from within the tunnel.

This is a disused tube station on the Piccadilly Line. Opened in 1907 as Strand Station it was originally intended to be the southern terminus of the Great Northern and Strand Railway. Re-named Aldwych Station in 1917 it ended up as the terminus for a very short branch line to Holborn. This branch line was closed during World War 2 and its tunnels were used as air raid shelters and to store various national treasures from the British Museum including the Elgin Marbles. Re-opened after the War it was finally closed on 30th September 1994 when the cost of refurbishing the lifts at the station was deemed to be uneconomic.
Situated at the junction of the Strand and Surrey Street, the L-shaped surface building has been largely restored to its former glory. Its well preserved interior has made it a very popular location for trendy parties, book launches & art exhibitions. The Station has also featured in a number of films including The Battle of Britain (1969), Superman IV – The Quest for Peace (1986), The Krays (1990), Patriot Games (1992), Creep (2004) and V for Vendetta (2006). The station facade was also used as a base-location in the BBC Three documentary series Spy and Firestar’s Waste a Moment video was shot here. It is also featured on Level 12 of the Tomb Raider video game.

As it was built on the site of the old Royal Strand Theatre it is perhaps fitting that its resident ghost is that of an actress that once trod its boards. Over the years, numerous people have claimed to have seen her agitated ghost wandering the Station’s deserted platforms and eerie tunnels late at night.

Over the years, a number of passengers travelling north on the Bakerloo Line have reported seeing the ghostly reflection in the carriage window of someone sitting next to them even though the seat next to them is actually empty.

Bank and Monument are interlinked stations, spanning the length of King William Street in the City of London. Servicing five Underground lines, plus the Docklands Light Railway, which runs into Bank together they form the seventh busiest station on the network. Officially, the stations are known as the Bank-Monument Complex, although the separate names remain in use on station entrances, platforms and the tube map. The two stations derived their names from the nearby Bank of England and the Monument to the Great Fire of London.

On January 11, 1941, during the blitz, over 50 people were killed and nearly 70 people were injured when the Central Line ticket hall took a direct hit from a German bomb. The resulting crater measured 120ft long and 100ft wide and it had to be covered with a bailey-bridge for traffic to pass over. The station was put out of action for 2 months.

It is not, however, a victim of that dreadful January day that haunts Bank Station. It is the ghost of Phillip Whitehead’s sister, Sarah.

Phillip Whitehead was as a cashier at the Bank of England. Arrested for forging cheques he was subsequently tried at the Old Bailey, found guilty and hanged in 1811. The tragedy drove Sarah quite mad and for the next 25 years…the rest of her life in fact…she came to the Bank every day dressed completely in black, in the forlorn hope of finding her brother. For that reason her ghostly apparition has acquired the nick-name the Black Nun. Some people believe that Sarah’s daily presence in and around the Bank was the reason why the Bank of England acquired the nick-name of the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street, a nick-name it still enjoys to this day.

Sarah’s ghost has been glimpsed on numerous occasions in the Bank’s garden and on the platforms and passageways of Bank Station and there have also been reports of foul, unexplained smells and feelings of great sadness, anxiety and hopelessness in the station.


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