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London’s haunted underground

I first was introduced to horror author Catherine Cavendish when I read her book The Pendle Curse. I’m not a fan of witch stories, but Catherine had been so nice to me during my launch that I decided to give it a read, and I’m so glad I did! It’s an awesome book. Enjoy this personal tour of one of Cat’s favourite haunted spots, and keep reading for a sneak peek of her latest book at the end.

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London has the distinction of playing host to the world’s oldest underground rail network. It’s now over 150 years old and, when it was being constructed, workers unearthed thousands of bodies, buried in plague pits and individually in long forgotten graveyards.

During and since its construction, there have been many more deaths as a result of wartime bombing, construction accidents, terrorism and hundreds of suicides along its 250 miles of track. Not surprising then that there have been many reported sightings of people who simply shouldn’t – or couldn’t – be there.

Take the well-documented story of the wartime victims that don’t seem able to leave the place of their death – Bethnal Green station. Members of the public and staff have separately reported hearing the sound of crying and screaming women and children. During World War II, hordes of people rushed into the station upon hearing air raid sirens. One of them tripped on the stairs, causing others to fall, and became trapped in a crush that killed 173 of them (including 126 women and children). Evidently they are still trying to escape.

The Bethnal Green Station Shelter during World War II

The Bethnal Green Station Shelter during World War II

 

Meanwhile, at King’s Cross station, a more modern tragedy has led to sightings of a young woman with long dark hair, wearing jeans and a T-shirt. She has been seen and heard screaming, crying and holding out her hands as if pleading for help. In 1998, a man approached her to try and comfort her but as he did so, she disappeared. Maybe she was the victim of a devastating fire there in 1987 that killed 31 people.

On the site where Farringdon Station is now situated, a thirteen-year-old girl called Anne Naylor was murdered in 1758. People have reported hearing piteous screams which have now been attributed to her. She is also referred to as ‘The Screaming Spectre.’

At Aldgate Station, a ghostly old woman was seen by an engineer. She stroked his friend’s hair and shortly afterwards, the man touched a live wire that sent 20,000 volts through his body. Miraculously he survived, but since then, phantom footsteps have been heard coming from the tunnel. They stop as suddenly as they have begun.

Then at Elephant and Castle, rapping noises and footsteps have often been heard after the station is closed. Staff have gone to investigate, but no reason for these manifestations has ever been found. It is also believed that the last train of the night is haunted by a girl who walks through all the carriages, vanishing just as she reaches the engine.

There are so many more reports of strange phenomena, it would seem that barely a station escapes but, for now, I’ll finish with one that saw the apparition caught on camera.

For this, we need to travel to Liverpool Street Station, which was built on the site of a mass burial ground. During construction, around eight bodies per cubic metre were discovered. In 2000, two members of staff spotted a man on CCTV. He was dressed in white overalls and standing on a platform as if waiting for a train. Not unusual you might think – except the station was closed for the night. One staff member went down to the platform to investigate while his co-worker watched the CCTV. Sure enough the member of staff appeared on screen as he emerged from the stairs onto the platform. On CCTV, standing right next to him, was the man in white overalls but, when the station worker returned to the office, he reported he had seen no one. The two co-workers were in danger of having a real argument, so the staff member returned to the platform. Again he saw no one, but, as he turned to go back upstairs, he saw a pair of white paper overalls on a bench. The owner of these has never been traced.

Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Cat CavendishCatherine Cavendish is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. She was the 2013 joint winner of the Samhain Gothic Horror Anthology Competition, with Linden Manor, which features in the anthology What Waits in the Shadows.  Her novels, The Pendle Curse and Saving Grace Devine are also published by Samhain. Her latest novella – Dark Avenging Angel – will be followed by her next novel – The Devil’s Serenade – in April 2016.

You can connect with Cat here:

Catherine Cavendish Facebook Twitter Goodreads Tsu

DAA (1)Don’t hurt Jane. You may live to regret it.

Bullied by her abusive father, Jane always felt different. Then the lonely child found a friend in a mysterious dark lady who offers her protection—a lady she calls her “angel.” But that protection carries a terrible price, one to be paid with the souls of those Jane chooses to suffer a hideous and eternal fate.

When Jane refuses to name another victim, the angel reveals her most terrifying side. Payment must be made in full—one way or the other.

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27 Comments

  1. I’ve been to most of those stations, but not at a time when I heard or saw anything. Very sad story about all the people who were crushed.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks for reading, Alex! I had no idea London’s underground was so haunted. Maybe it’s different if you’re there at night when it’s less crowded, if it ever is.

      Reply
    • JH

      Yes, it is. Until Catherine wrote about it for this blog, I had no idea.

      Reply
  2. Oh, I love those stories. I’ll have to keep them all in mind if/when I get to London.

    Reply
    • JH

      Seems like all you need to do to see a ghost is take the subway at midnight. Mind the gap!

      Reply
  3. Believe me, everyone. The London Underground at night – and deserted – is one of the spookiest places you can imagine. The shadows move. Papers waft in strange and almost guided ways. Whispers echo…even when there;s no one there to whisper. Thank you for joining me! Big thank you to J.H for hosting me 🙂

    Reply
    • JH

      Thank you so much for writing such a great guest post, Catherine. I can tell a lot of time and effort went into it, and it was a joy to read.

      Best of luck with your book, and all the books to come.

      Reply
  4. This is spooky! Britain seems to have the most spooky stories and the underground would be a great place for ghostly tales. I had heard about the station in WW2 which is such a shame. I have my own “spooky” story but less spooky and more icky I think. My former husband, myself and 3 friends were in Toronto and it was late. We wanted to catch the final subway to Union Station. We went down the stairs and were surprised that nobody was around. There was the train with all the doors open so we went into the last car only to see blood everywhere! It was all over the walls, ceiling, seats floor. We were just immobilized for a few seconds and then we wondered where the body or bodies were, where the cops were and where the yellow tape was! We heard no noise, no talking, no sirens…nothing. I wanted to look further(Yes i was nuts) but my ex said we better leave asap! We did and ended up walking to union Station. We never did find out what had happened.

    Reply
    • JH

      That is incredibly creepy, Birgit! That would have scared the hell out of me. I wonder what on earth happened.

      It would make a great scene in a novel. *hint hint*

      Reply
  5. That last one would have been interesting to see video of.

    Reply
    • JH

      A lot of these stories have movie written all over them.

      Reply
  6. Wow, it amazes me how many places like this have such histories and pasts, yet people still visit or use them, but I guess sometimes you have to. For a writer though, visiting the station would be good inspiration. Still it’s sad to hear just how many have died there.

    Reply
    • JH

      It is really sad, Toi. I had no idea, but I guess in a place like London, there’s history everywhere. I’ve always been struck by how old things are in Europe–nothing like the US or Canada, where everything is relatively new in comparison.

      Thanks for reading and commenting! 🙂

      Reply
    • True, Toi. London has the oldest underground network in the world and millions rely on it. There was a strike recently which closed down the network for a day. London was thrown into total chaos! During the day, each station is crowded with throngs of people. You can barely move sometimes. At those times it doesn’t seem scary at all. But, at night…it’s a different world.

      Reply
  7. How could it not be haunted built upon long covered mass graves from long ago– and all the tragic deaths during WWII and afterward.

    My blood center is housed in a former surgery center and late at night (we blood couriers work all 24 hours) strange sounds, moans, and footsteps are sometimes heard. Cue to the spooky music, right?

    Reply
    • Definitely, Roland. I used to work at Liverpool University in a building that had once been a hospital. Working late in the evening,, when most people had gone home, you would sometimes here the sound of running feet coming from the floor above, accompanied by children’s laughter. Nothing unusual about that, you might think.

      Except – there were no children…

      Reply
    • JH

      Ooh, that’s really creepy. But beyond that…you’re a BLOOD courier? How does one end up couriering blood?

      Reply
  8. Scary Stuff Cat and another brilliant set of tales

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Shehanne. Welcome to my blog!

      Reply
  9. A place filled with tragedy. What did they do with all the remains? Sounds like many spirits occupy that space.

    Reply
    • JH

      I’m not sure, Mary, but I suspect they were buried in some creepy graveyard somewhere. Maybe even some catacombs.

      Reply
  10. Nice article, love the History of the Underground and the many stories which surround it. At night in any station when deserted is scary, but awesome.

    Reply
    • JH

      Welcome to my blog and thanks for commenting! Britain has so many creepy and haunted places. No wonder so many writers have found it inspiring.

      Reply

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