MJ STEEL COLLINS reveals terrifying tales of Glasgow’s underground train system that will give you the creeps
Glasgow Subway opened in 1896, making it the third oldest underground railway in the world. Though extensively refurbished in the late 1970s, it still runs on more or less the same route. The system has 15 stations, served by two tunnels, running trains in the opposite direction. At 6.5 miles in circumference, the system is tiny next to London’s extensive network, but given the number of scary stories surrounding it, Glasgow Subway, could easily give London Underground a run for its money in the haunted stakes.
1. The Clatter
Perhaps the oldest tale associated with the system. The Clatter was the name given to the strange phenomenon that tormented workmen excavating the tunnels between Shields Road and West Street Stations during the 1890s. As the work progressed in the area, the soil took on a strange texture, with fragments of human bones and teeth. It turned out the workmen were tunnelling through a plague pit. To increase the creepiness stakes, a small orb of light began manifesting in the sector. It grew larger, until it engulfed the area. Those unfortunate enough to be caught up in it, also heard a loud banging, likened to the sound of pots and pans falling, giving rise to the name The Clatter. It ended once the Subway opened.
2. Smiling Lady of Hillhead
The well attired ghost that has been reported in Hillhead, one of the stations serving Glasgow’s West End, is probably the happiest ghost in the Subway. She appears smiling, wearing good quality clothing dating from around the 1930s. She was seen over a period of two nights standing on the platform during the 1970s by maintenance staff working on the tracks after the station had closed for the night.
3. Grey Lady of West Street
West Street Station, as the next few tales show, is perhaps the most haunted in the entire system. The Grey Lady ghost, a maudlin looking figure, is believed to originate from an incident during the 1920s. A young woman, holding a little girl, fell into the path of an oncoming train. The quick thinking station master leapt into action and saved the child, but it was too late for the woman. Unearthly sobs, whispers and footsteps have been heard in the station.
4. The Ghoul
A tale coming from the same section of tunnel as The Clatter, but of later vintage. This being was seen by workmen in the 1950s. At first, they thought it was a local kid who had somehow gotten into the tunnel. Whoever it was held a hunk of meat in their hand, from which they ate. The workmen thought that this had been stolen from a butcher near West St. A closer look revealed it wasn’t a kid, but a strange half human, half animal creature. As to the piece of meat, who knows what it was or where it came from.
5. Robert Cobble
The ghost of Robert Cobble is also associated with West Street Station. In life, he came from a rich family, but somehow became impoverished, suffering mental illness and alcoholism. He was a popular local character, entertaining the punters in local pubs with his tall tales. One night, he was viciously attacked, which left him with permanent injuries. He died one night huddled in the doorway of West Street Station, seeking warmth from the cold winter weather. His shivering apparition has been sighted at the station entrance.
6. Hanged Man
A rather vague tale, with no apparent rhyme nor reason. But on occasion, the gruesome apparition of a man in Victorian clothes has been reported floating mid air in the street near St George’s Cross, Station, and his head twisted to one side as if he has just been hanged.
7. Strange Occurrences in the Tunnels
Various bizarre things have been reported in the Subway’s pitch dark tunnels. Singing has been heard in the section between Kelvinbridge and Hillhead Stations, maintenance teams have encountered a strange light, whilst during the 1960’s, a pump man lost his nerve after hearing strange banging that couldn’t be accounted for as he walked through the tunnel to carry out a repair job at St Enoch Station. Needless to say, the repair didn’t get done.
8. The Poltergeist
One oft told tale relating to the small castellated building in St Enoch Square, which once served as the Subway station dates back to the Second World War. Green slime oozed from a wall, an office girl sent skiting through the air and a male member of staff had his shoelaces tied together by unseen hands.
9. The Spectral Cat
The Strathclyde Passenger Transport website posted a report in 2013 about maintenance crews seeing a ghostly cat slinking along the St Enoch platforms at night. The fact it was posted on April 1 perhaps points to the veracity of this one!
10. The Strange Man in the Workshops
Prior to the Subway’s refurbishment in the 1970s, there was no direct access to the train and carriage workshop in the Broomloan Road depot. Any of the rolling stock requiring repairs was brought in using a crane bringing the damaged carriage or locomotive through a pit from the tunnels. From time to time, a strange outline of a figure would be seen in the cab of locomotives in for repairs, but no one would be found when staff went to investigate. They did find the cab eerily chilly though.
11. The Tunnel Wanderer
This tale also predates the 1970s refurbishments. Owing to the inaccessibility of the carriage workshop mentioned above, functioning rolling stock not in use was stored in the tunnels near the depot. Once, a team heading out to carry out repairs in the tunnel met a workmate talking to a man who appeared to have missed getting off at the last stop before his train was taken out of service. The crew told the man to follow them and they would lead him out the tunnel up to street level. The passenger duly complied, and was seen following the group at regular intervals when the staff checked to see if he was still there. Yet, when they reached street access, he was gone and not seen again.
EXTRA HAUNT: Cursing in Kelvinbridge
One evening, a cleaner in Kelvinbridge Station was alarmed to hear loud swearing after the station had closed. The police were called, and despite the fact officers described hearing the racket themselves, as if the argument was taking place right in front of them, they saw nothing.
Do you have an experience of a haunting on the Glasgow Subway or other underground train service? Tell us in the comment section below.
M J Steel Collins is proprietor of the new small press Beul Aithris Publishing, which specialises in the paranormal, folklore and dark history. For further spooky reading and details of titles available for purchase, please visit the website here.