Nicola Kirk: Author and Collector of Paranormal Stories and Other Strange Encounters

Posts tagged ‘London underground’


Oh, The Horror!

As I have mentioned before, I use the London Underground every day.  Some days it’s not too bad, but other days… there just aren’t words to describe the skin crawling grimness of it all.

Take, for example, the morning I got onto the tube and picked up a copy of the Metro which had been left on one of the seats.  I settled down and began to leaf through looking for an interesting article only to find that someone must have ruptured an artery during their early morning journey and had used the newspaper to stem the flow.  The newspaper looked like a prop from ‘Casualty’. However, despite the distress and blood loss whoever it was must have suffered, they had still managed to carefully fold the paper and leave it for the next unsuspecting person…me.  Thanks for that, mate.

Take Your Boogers Home!

One curious habit people seem to have on the Underground is something I like to call ‘I’ll read that bit later’ syndrome.  Now, I know it’s difficult to simultaneously read a newspaper, turn the pages and keep your balance when you’re standing on the tube, but really, if you feel the need to sneeze and spatter a couple of pages with flying globules of snot, please take the damned newspaper away with you and stick it in a bin.  But unfortunately this doesn’t tend to happen.  People sneeze into the newspaper and then quickly turn the page with an embarrassed ‘I’ll read that bit later’ look on their face.  Then they get off the train and craftily leave the paper behind for the next poor sod to discover the extra ‘full stops’ they’ve left behind.  As you can imagine, I never read copies of the Metro left on the tube anymore.

Where Not All Angels Fear To Tread

But it’s not all nastiness and horror on the tube; there are also a few angels floating around down there, too.  I once saw an elderly gent get on an almost deserted carriage.  He’d clearly managed to bash his hand on something because it was bleeding.  Before I could blink, a young woman sat down next to him (where she’d come from, I’m not entirely sure) and she proceeded to smile and chat to the old man while she pulled a large first aid kit out from her bag (how many people have one of those lying about their person?) and began to clean and dress the wound.  When she was done, the old man thanked her and she got up and wandered off as if nothing had happened.  It was a curiously nice thing to behold, especially as these days you could pass out on the floor of the tube and, if people thought they could get away with it, they’d just step over you whilst frowning at your inconsideration for getting in their way.

Of course, if you get on the train one day and decide that all you really want is for everyone to go away and leave you alone, you can always try what one young guy did late one night.  He’d clearly had a skinful and, obviously feeling a bit dopey, he collapsed onto a seat and snuggled himself up against the back of a young lady who was chatting to her friend and tried to go to sleep on her.  She wasn’t best pleased and moved.  Then the young man sat up a bit and, bleary eyed, began to puff his cheeks in and out.  There was a comical moment as his end of the carriage cleared out down to the other end in an effort to avoid the fountain of puke that we all knew was about to erupt.  I guess they don’t call the last train home the ‘vomit comet’ for nothing…


©Nicola Kirk and 2010

Bring Out Your Dead – Plague Pits And Nasty Discoveries

We all love a bit of morbidity, don’t we?  Well, I’m pretty sure it’s not just me anyway.  A few years ago, my husband and I took a trip to Edinburgh.  Just off the Royal Mile there is a well known street that goes by the name of Mary King’s Close.  Everyone who’s remotely interested in ghosts has usually heard of this mysterious Close due to the myth that in 1645 the tenants became infected by the plague and were bricked up inside and left to die.  Their terrible plague ridden ghosts are said to haunt the close with great abandon… In reality it would seem that this horrific event didn’t actually happen, but paranormal tours don’t try too hard to enlighten their customers.  Well, where’s the fun in that?  Anyway, it got me thinking – what happened to all the plague victims in London?

According to Daniel Defoe’s, A Journal of the Plague Year:

”Tis certain they died by heaps and were buried by heaps; that is to say, without account.’

The Bills of Mortality list 68,576 plague victims in the capital but it would appear that the true figure is probably nearer 100,000.  That’s an awful lot of people.  So where did these poor souls end up?  There certainly aren’t enough individual graves littered around to account for them.

Well, the answer is that most of them were unceremoniously dumped into huge plague pits sprinkled in and around London.  One of the earliest plague pits was dug in 1348 at Charterhouse Square for victims of the Black Death.  The Black Death gained its nickname because the skin of victims turned black. Lovely.  Tens of thousands of bodies were buried at Charterhouse Square.  There was another great pit at Aldgate and also one at Finsbury Fields.

Whilst listing these pits of despair, we mustn’t forget the plague pit from the 17th century at Green Park which proved quite troublesome when the Underground network was being constructed in 1960 and construction workers managed to bore straight through the middle of it.  What a shock that must have been.  Another plague pit received unwanted attention when it was discovered in the London Depot on the Bakerloo Line.  Although no paranormal activity as such has been reported, few staff are willing to go down to the tunnels, especially at night.  Some people have no sense of adventure.

If you happen to be loitering around Bishopsgate during your lunch hour, you may notice that some office blocks do not occupy the full building plots, leaving some small areas empty.  This is because these innocent little parcels of land are plague pit sites.  Still hungry?

Recently, under the Surrey side of London Bridge, workers were horrified to discover the 17th century remains of suspected plague victims – although some skulls were found to have rather suspicious holes in them leading some to believe that their owners’ endings may have been rather more questionable.    Builders working in the vaults aren’t best pleased about working there anymore because of the unexplained noises they hear and the mysterious figures glimpsed out of the corner of the eye.

Of course, there will always be someone who actively seeks out encounters with the plague ridden dead.  And no, it’s not always me.  Here we see a group of people called the Londonists doing what they do best – creeping around in the plague pit found under London Bridge:

Some people have all the fun.


©Nicola Kirk and 2010

Dead Central – Ghosts On London Underground’s Central Line

Travelling on London’s Underground is not unlike being in a rugby scrum.  You start off clean and tidy but as soon as you step through those carriage doors you’re ruthlessly tackled for the single remaining seat (covered in something unidentifiable, so actually you’re welcome to it, mate), and then you’re squashed, shoved and elbowed until you stagger out of the carriage at the end of your journey looking like you’ve been mugged.  Twice.  Welcome to London.

But one thing that may help take your mind off the journey (and even appreciate the company of your fellow rugby players) is the thought of the ghosts that may be watching you as you go about your travels.

At 46 miles long the Central Line is the longest line on the London Underground.  That’s plenty of track to haunt.

When you next pass through Bethnal Green Tube Station, spare a thought for one poor station master who, in 1981, was busy working away in his office late one night when he began to hear the sound of children crying.  You can only imagine how he must have felt when the sounds of crying were then accompanied by the shrieks of terrified women.  The station master fled his office in terror.  173 people died in 1943 in Bethnal Green Underground Station in a terrible accident.  Most of them had been women and children.

As the train trundles on to Bank Station and you find yourself desperately trying to avoid the person in front’s rucksack from smacking you in the face every time they move, you may be lucky (or unlucky) enough to see the ghost known as ‘Sarah’ or ‘the Black Nun’ as she is sometimes called.  Sarah’s brother, Phillip Whitehead, was a cashier at the bank but the story goes that he was executed for forgery in 1811.  Sarah was grief stricken and, unable to accept that her brother was dead, insisted on waiting for him outside the bank every evening for the next 40 years.  Apparently she waits for him still, but her wanderings have taken her down into Bank Station itself where, from time to time, she creeps along the platforms instead.  Travellers and workers alike have experienced feelings of sadness and hopelessness (and not just because of the tube service).  Also, reports of an unexplainable terrible stench have been reported and there are rumours that the station was dug through one of London’s forgotten plague pits.

Finally, one of my favourite tales of hauntings on the Underground.  Liverpool Street Station was built on the site of the first Hospital of the Star of Bethlehem, an asylum for the insane.  But the ghost I want to tell you about is not one of the old asylum inmates, although I’m sure they may well haunt the station, too.

2am should be a quiet time at Liverpool Street Station, but in 2000 a Line Controller who was keeping an eye on the deserted platforms via CCTV caught sight of something rather peculiar just outside the entrance of the Central Line eastbound tunnel.  The station was closed for the night and no maintenance works had been scheduled, so the sight of a man dressed in white overalls caused the Line Controller some concern.  The Line Controller rang the Station Supervisor and asked him to investigate.

The Station Supervisor could find no trace of the man in white overalls and rang  the Line Controller back to tell him so.  The Line Controller was mystified, telling the Supervisor that the man in white had been standing right next to him, how could he have missed him?  A second search was carried out, to no avail, but the Line Controller insisted that the mysterious man had been so close to the Supervisor during his second search that he could have touched him…

I’ve heard the above tale on a couple of occasions and I still can’t help peering out of the tube windows on my way home via Liverpool Street Station, just in case I catch sight of the strange man in white overalls silently watching unwary travellers from the shadows.


©Nicola Kirk and 2010

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: