As if you didn’t have enough reasons to dread the morning commute… London’s haunted underground stations will have you quaking in your boots.
Whether you’re a believer or a sceptic, we’re willing to bet you wouldn’t fancy spending the night alone in an empty tube station. Thousands of commuters and station workers have reported ghostly goings-on over the years, so you’re probably a smart cookie to stick to your nice cosy bed. Truth is, there are hair-raising tales behind each of London’s haunted underground stations, each more terrifying than the last.
Whether you live in London or are just visiting, you’ve most likely used at least one of these stations. But is there anything more to it than tricks of the mind? Just in time for Halloween, we’ve rounded up the best tales of subterranean supernaturalism. Maybe they’ll turn you into a believer after all…
Since the station first opened its doors, there have been stories of a tall man in a hat and a cloak wandering the corridors after dark. It has terrified some tube workers so much that they requested a move to a less haunted underground station, and frankly, we don’t blame them.
This charming character is reportedly the actor William Terriss, who was murdered in 1897. Before his untimely demise, he used to frequent the bakery that once stood on the site of Covent Garden station, and now stalks the corridors instead. Whether he’s looking to avenge his death, or is simply angry at his lack of cronuts (we feel you, Will), his apparition makes for a chilling sight.
On quiet nights, bloodcurdling screams can be heard around Farringdon, echoing up and down the corridors. Reports of these terrifying sounds are remarkably frequent throughout the years, so it looks like this phenomenon isn’t dying out any time soon.
They aren’t due to delays on the Hammersmith & City line, however. The screaming is rumoured to be the work of Anne Naylor, an apprentice hat maker who was murdered by her employer in 1758 (imagine if that’s how The Apprentice ended each week…). Why did she choose to haunt Farringdon though? The station sits on the spot where her body was unceremoniously dumped, and as a result the ‘Screaming Spectre’ frequents the station to this day.
3. Liverpool Street
Staff at Liverpool Street station are accustomed to otherworldly events and mysterious happenings. Many workers have spotted strange figures on the CCTV system in the dead of night, and passengers have reported seeing a man in overalls pacing up and down the platforms.
The station was rumoured to be built on a mass burial site, which is admittedly a bit cliché. Unsettlingly, this turned out to be true, as over three thousand skeletons were unearthed in 2015, the remains of plague victims who had been buried during the black death. Perhaps they’re the very same figures showing up on camera…
Since the 19th century, there have been sightings of a sinister figure in black stalking the passages of Bank station. A putrid smell wafting throughout the station is also commonly reported, as well as a pervading sense of sadness. That could just be because, well, it’s Bank…
The smell can be explained by the fact that Bank station was built on top of a mass grave – are you sensing a theme yet? As for the sinister figure, she’s known as the Black Nun. She’s said to walk the tunnels and mourn her executed brother, who worked at the old bank which gave the station its name.
5. Bethnal Green
There have been some ghostly goings on out in the East End, and there’s a truly sad history behind them. Workers at Bethnal Green station have heard children sobbing, women screaming, and the general sound of panic. Usually, this starts quietly and then rises to the sound of a cacophony, leaving anyone who hears it understandably terrified.
It can all be traced back to a dark night in March 1943. As one of the deepest stations in East London, Bethnal Green was doubling as an air raid shelter when the Luftwaffe circled for an attack. Hearing sirens, residents streamed down the steps into the supposed safety of the station. Tragedy struck when an anti-aircraft gun went off nearby, and started a panicked rush which led to a stampede. 173 people died in the ensuing crush, and the screams still echo around Bethnal Green today.
6. Elephant & Castle
If you’re afraid of the supernatural, might we suggest avoiding the Bakerloo line from now on? In the pantheon of haunted underground stations, Elephant & Castle makes a strong case to top the list. The station is no stranger to odd tapping noises, footsteps made by invisible people, and doors being thrown open without warning. But the most chilling tale has to be that of a young woman who is seen boarding trains, but never appears to leave them.
Unlike the others on this list, there are no suggested explanations for the ghostly woman and her everlasting Oyster card. To our mind, that just makes it even creepier.
7. British Museum/Holborn
Ok, so no trains have been through the abandoned British Museum station in over eighty years. However, the sheer malevolence of its resident ghost means that this is a truly terrifying haunted underground stop. Many people believe that the long-abandoned British Museum tunnels are haunted by the ghost of the Egyptian god Amun-ra. He’s no Casper the friendly ghost, either; people have blamed him for the disappearance of two women from neighbouring Holborn station in 1935.
The rumour goes that there’s a secret tunnel connecting the Egyptian room at the British Museum to Holborn. Logic suggests that the ghost of Amun-ra has been using this tunnel to travel to Holborn and snatch tube passengers to take back to his lair. Since Secret London HQ used to be in Holborn, this one had us a little more worried than the rest!
In other spooky news, these are some of the most haunted places in London.
Also published on Medium.