The London Underground is 140 years old, 253 miles long and carves its way beneath London's most historic sites, disturbing what was laid to rest centuries ago. It is no surprise that many ghostly sightings are associated with the Underground.
The London Underground is used by thousands of people every day as a crowded, claustrophobic way of getting around London. When taking the Tube you are effectively lost in an underworld that often seems bland, dark and soulless. However, many passengers and staff have discovered over the years that it is anything but.
Plague pits dug during the outbreak of Bubonic plague in the 17th century have proved a hindrance in building the Underground. Firstly because they were dug so deep to prevent the spread of infection and secondly because no-one knows how many there are or where they are located. The Victoria Line, built in the late 1960s ran into trouble when the tunnel boring machine went straight into a long-forgotten plague pit at Green Park.
One case in point is the London Depot on the Bakerloo Line. At the south end lie two tunnels; one exits to the line at Elephant & Castle, the other to a dead end to stop runaway trains. Behind the wall lies one of London's many plague pits dug in the bubonic plague crisis. No ghostly activity has been reported but few staff are willing to go down there, particularly at night.
The next time you're travelling on the London Underground bear in mind that, while you're looking at the destination board for the next train, you can't see who, or what is behind you. Mind the Ghosts...
Aldwych station was open in 1907. The line was originally part of the Piccadilly line. With being so close to many West End theatres, it gained the unofficial title of the Theatre Line. Aldwych station itself was built on the site of an old London theatre - the Royal Strand.
During the Second World War the line was closed and the tunnels used as an air raid shelter and to store various national treasures from the British Museum, including the Elgin Marbles. This station was closed in 1994 because the cost of refurbishing the lifts at the station could not be justified. It is still currently used for parties, opening nights and for film sets.
Numerous people have claimed to have seen the ghost who haunts Aldwych station on the tracks at night, mainly by staff who clean the tunnels and stations. The ghost is believed to be 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.
A 15 strong camera crew from TV's Most Haunted spent 24 hours at Aldwych station in 2oo2. Derek Achorah managed to contact a ghost called Margaret, who could be the actress sighted many times before. During the investigation the crew walked through the tunnels in complete darkness. Yvette Fielding thought she saw someone or something in the tunnel. Meanwhile, over another platform, a motion detector was set off, yet nobody was near enough to trigger it.
Workmen who were building Bank station during the last century disturbed the spirit of the 'Black Nun'. The Nun's brother, Phillip Whitehead, was a cashier at the bank and was executed in 1811 for forgery. After his execution the Nun, who was always dressed in black, waited for him outside the bank every evening for 40 years until she died. It is said that to this day, she still searches for him along the platforms.
Over many years there have also been many reports of a foul unexplained smells and feelings of sadness, concern and hopelessness by many workers and travellers here.
No-one can explain this, but it is suspected that the station was dug through one of London's many plague pits, the burial place of thousands of plague victims in the 17th Century.
British Museum Station
Probably the most famous ghost on the London Underground can be found at the abandoned British Museum station. The station closed on the 25 September, 1933. Some people claim that the British Museum station on the Central Line is haunted by the ghost of an ancient Egyptian mummy from the nearby Museum.
The ghost is connected to the curse of the Amen-Ra's tomb. Dressed in an impressive loincloth and headdress, the figure of an Egyptian Princess would return from the grave late at night and would wail and scream in the tunnels. A more recent report states that these sounds can now be heard further down the track, at Holborn station.
The rumours of the ghost grew so strong that a newspaper offered a reward to anyone who would spend the night there. No one volunteered to do this.
In 1935, two years after the station's closure, the story takes a stranger turn. The comedy thriller, Bulldog Jack, used the legend as its premise which included a secret tunnel from the station to the Egyptian room at the Museum. On the same night that the film was released, two women disappeared from the platform at Holborn - the next station along from where British Museum was. Marks were later found on the walls of the closed station.
More sightings of the ghost were reported along with strange moanings 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.
Covent Garden Station
People claim to have seen ghosts haunting Covent Garden station since the 1950s. The station areas, especially the platforms, are said to be haunted by the ghost of an actor, who used to visit the bakery which stood in the station's place before it was built.
It is thought that the ghost is of the actor William Terris, who was fatally stabbed on The Strand in December 1897. This could perhaps explain why staff on The Underground have reported seeing a tall man in a frock coat, hat and gloves pacing the tunnels as far back as the 1950s. Patrolling the platforms was one thing but when he appeared in the staff rest room, many workers demanded a transfer.
A London Underground foreman reported numerous ghostly sightings of the actor at Covent Garden station in 1955:
During a cold November night in 1955, the last train had long gone and Jack Hayden, the foreman of Covent Garden station, was locking the gates. He made a final check of the platforms. All was quiet. Nodding to himself, he turned to leave and suddenly saw a tall, distinguished looking man walking towards the emergency stairs. Jack quickly telephoned the ticket office. "There's someone still down here, Henry - he's coming up the stairs," he said. "Let him out, would you? I'll meet you up there."
Jack jumped into the lift and arrived at the booking hall, where a puzzled clerk was still waiting at the top of the stairwell. Together they went down the stairs and then searched the platforms and the tunnels. There was no-one there.
Four days later, Jack was in the mess-room, again after the last train, and saw a tall man staring at him through the open door. "He was wearing an old-fashioned grey suit," Jack said later, "with a funny looking old-style collar and some light-coloured gloves."
"Looking for the cloakroom, sir?" ventured Jack. The figure said nothing, but moved away from view. Jack moved to follow him - but there was no-one around.
Afraid of ridicule, Jack didn't mention what he'd seen. But a few days later, at midday, he was sitting with one of the guards when they heard a mighty scream. Moments later, a 19-year-old porter called Victor Locker staggered into the mess room gasping that he had seen a tall, strange-looking man in the other room. When Victor had approached him, he'd felt a heavy sensation around his head and the figure had vanished.
This time Jack knew he had to make a report. The nearest control point was Leicester Square Station. The managers sent the foreman, Eric Davey - who, by coincidence, was also an amateur spiritualist. They tried to recreate the scene with Victor, who suddenly screamed again. Eric felt something pressing down heavily on his head for a few seconds before vanishing. A few days later, Eric saw the ghost for himself, and he thought it had said that its name was Terry.
Jack and Eric described the figure they'd seen to an artist, who made a sketch. The Psychic News then dug out a number of Victorian photographs of people connected to the area. Both Jack and Eric pounced on the picture at the top of the pile - a man with an expressive face, sad eyes and sunken cheeks. "That's him! That's him! That's the man I saw in here!" cried Jack. The photograph was of a man named William Terris, and was remarkably similar to the man in the sketch.
Unknown to the station staff, people at the Adelphi Theatre had seen a similar apparition a few years before Jack's experience. They had nicknamed their visitor 'Charlie'. Jack saw the ghostly figure several times over the next few years, always around November or December. In the end, it became too much for him and he requested a transfer. But since that day, several staff members at Covent Garden have reported hearing strange noises and footsteps when no-one was there.
Elephant and Castle Station
Elephant & Castle station has a firmly established ghostly reputation. When it's closed at night, staff have reported hearing the steps of an invisible runner along the platform, strange tapping noises and doors being thrown open without apparent cause.
Another ghost seen by both staff and commuters, is a young woman who enters the train's carriages, but is never seen leaving. Some also think that this same entity is responsible when invisible footsteps create loud echoing around the station after hours.
Here is a genuine testimony from a tube driver on the London Underground who has actually seen the ghost:
At around 6 pm at a Bakerloo line Underground Station, I was in pursuit of my duties as an employee of London Underground. I join the train at the terminus at Elephant and Castle and walk forward to the front of the train with a view to travelling with the driver. At this point the driver has not arrived so I put my bag down and move to the rear door to wait for him. While I am waiting a girl gets into the carriage - she walks straight through the carriage and I have to move aside making some muttered apology - I sort of have to do this since I was in uniform!
A minute or so later the driver turns up, and we move toward the front of the train. I notice that the girl is not in the carriage and this is a rather immediate cause for concern - she could not have left the train without passing me - I had full view of the carriage and platform at the time. My reaction was to inform the driver - the only place she could have gone was to have walked down the tunnel - not really what we want! The driver's response was unusual: 'Oh, her. We hear about her all the time - she's even been in the papers.'
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 in the late 1940's and the cutting became overgrown. The cutting that exists above the current station used to be a steam line that ran to Alexandra Palace before it was eventually closed. The rails have long since been lifted, yet residents still say they hear the sound of trains passing through the cutting.
South Kensington Station
At South Kensington station in December 1928 a passenger on the last westbound tube of the evening reported hearing an ear-splitting whistle. Suddenly an unscheduled spectral train appeared with a ghostly figure wearing a reefer jacket and peaked cap hanging off the side of the engine. The train continued into the tunnel then vanished and has not been sighted since.
Spooky doesn't always have to mean malevolent. A few years ago, an electrician working at Aldgate made what should have been a fatal slip, sending 22,000 volts through his body. He was knocked unconscious, bruising his forehead - but somehow was otherwise unharmed. Unknown to him, his colleagues had been watching him just before it happened, and had seen a half-transparent figure of an old woman was stroking his hair.