The quickest way to travel about London to visit historic and spooky places is to ride the underground train system otherwise known as the Tube. Traffic on the main streets is just too congested, so the fast paced trains are a blessing. The nickname “the Tube” comes from the circular tube-like tunnels and platforms through which the trains travel.
In 2009, our tour group of 25 plus travelers ventured to the station to visit some of London’s local attractions. Riding the rails was a new adventure for many of us. The light rail system here in Phoenix, Arizona was still very new. Many Phoenician’s haven’t explored the new available method of transit. Going underground in London seemed quite eerie. It’s somewhat dark, intimating, and very fast paced. It’s like a whole other society below the surface of the medieval world of London. The underground rail system has been in place in some form or another since 1863. New lines, new railway methods, and improvements continue to keep the tube known as the longest running underground system in the world.
We all made it safely to our first destination by following each other like a row of ducks. We even successfully made the return trip near the Tower of London with no incidents. After a few hours of exploring the castle towers, we voted to venture on to the Piccadilly district where some of the tour members wanted to see the Lyceum Theatre where Bram Stoker was employed for a period of time.
The journey to Piccadilly meant riding three different trains with two transfers to master. Everyone made it to our first station just fine. But at that location, one tour member had a ticket that would not work properly in the turn style and caused several other members of our group to lag behind him. In the rush to catch the train, we lost 5 or 6 members of the tour at the previous station.
Upon arriving at the Piccadilly station, we took a head count and found we were missing many of our traveling companions. We were prepared to search each and every train as they arrived at the station platform. We made one long line along the platform so we could see into each and every car as they whizzed into the station.
Luckily we spied tour guest Lisa’s new checkered tam as the lost members of the tour resurrected into view with the approaching train. We frantically waved and shouted to our friends. The doors opened and they quickly exited the train bringing us all back together.
I know the question you are anxious to ask me, “Are the underground tunnels haunted?”
Thanks to Metro Newspaper, here is an account of some of the ghosts and ghost stations along the Tube.
“This station was closed in 1994 although it’s currently used for parties and trendy opening nights. The folks who clean the tunnels and stations claim to have been scared by a figure that appears on the tracks at night. The station is supposedly haunted by an actress who believes she has not enjoyed her last curtain call. Aldwych used to be on the site of the old Royal Strand Theatre.”
“The spirit of the so called “Black Nun” was roused by workmen who built Bank Station in the last century. The “Nun’s” brother Phillip Whitehead was a cashier and was executed in 1811 for forgery. The nun, Sarah, wearing black, waited for him outside the bank every evening for 40 years until she died. To this day, it said that she still searches for him along the platforms.”
“Here we find a ghost station and a ghost. British Museum station closed in September 1933. There was a local myth that the station was haunted by the ghost of an ancient Egyptian. Dressed in a loincloth and headdress, the figure would emerge late at night. The rumor grew so strong that a newspaper offered a reward to anyone who could spend the night there. Nobody accepted the challenge. The story grew stranger after the closure of the station. The comedy thriller, “Bulldog Jack” was made in 1935 and included a secret (fictitious) tunnel from the station to the Egyptian room at the Museum. The station in the film was called Bloomsbury, and in all likelihood was a stage set, but it was based on the ghost story of the British Museum. On the same night that the film was released, two women disappeared from the platform at Holborn—the next station along from where the British Museum was. Marks were later found on the walls of the closed station. More sightings of the ghost were reported along with strange moaning from the walls of the tunnels. Eventually the story was hushed up as London Underground has always denied the existence of the tunnel from the station to the Egyptian.” room.
“A tall man in a frock coat, tall hat and gloves is said to be pacing the tunnels, and has been seen since the 1950’s. When he appeared in the staff restroom, the employees demanded a transfer. The ghost is supposed to be actor William Terriss who was fatally stabbed near the Adelphi Theatre in the Strand in December 1897. Apparently William regularly visited a baker’s shop which stood where today’s Tube station was built.”
Elephant & Castle
“When this station is closed, people say that you can hear the footsteps of an invisible runner, strange tapping, and doors being thrown open.”
“A 13 year old trainee hat maker, Anne Naylor, was murdered in 1758 by her trainer and the trainer’s daughter. People claim to hear her cries echoing down Farringdon Station. She has been nicknamed ‘The Screaming Spectre’.”
“In 1941, Highgate station was rebuilt to join an extension from the Northern Line. However the project was abandoned and the cutting became overgrown. Nevertheless residents still claim to hear eerie sounds of trains going through the cutting.”
“Now here’s a sighting of a ghost train. A passenger from the last westbound tube saw a train pull into South Ken station in December 1928. An ear-piercing whistle broke through the night and the passenger spotted a ghostly figure in a reefer jacket and peaked cap hanging from the side of the engine. Both the man and the train then vanished into the tunnel never to be seen again.”
At the end of the day, we still had one more underground train to catch to get us back to our hotel. We had finished the Jack the Ripper tour and knew we were better off traveling together—safety in numbers. But we will forever have an unseen, mysterious voice echoing through our heads….”Mind the Gap…Mind the Gap!” Or…should that really be…”Mind the Ghosts!”