EDDIE BRAZIL recounts the tale of Old Charlie, the machete-waving vagrant ghost of Camberwell in South London

Old Charlie was a fearsome character to encounter long before his ghost was said to have wandered the streets of Camberwell.

He was a vagrant who went about his business pushing a large bassinet pram and wearing an moth-eaten trench coat over his head.

Yet perhaps the most disconcerting of his possessions was one he carried with him at all times; a vicious, lethal machete which he was not adverse to waiving in the air during his frequent drunken rages.

Being homeless Charlie made his shelter in an abandoned church near a disused canal. In my younger years his terrifying unseen presence would manifest it self to me and my impressionable mates in any unidentified noise or black shape which loomed in the dark as we played along side the canal banks or with in the churchyard.

In time, old age and ill health eventually claimed the failing vagrant. His passing was viewed by some with indifference and relief by others thankful they would no longer have to run the gauntlet of fear in meeting him. And yet, many years on, there are those that say Charlie has not left us , for during the small hours it is said he still roams his way through the lamp lit Camberwell streets.

Those late night travellers returning home by way of Charlie’s old beat have reported coming across the figure of an old man pushing a pram walking along Wells Way in the direction of St Georges Church.

On reaching the gates which lead in to the graveyard the figure abruptly vanishes. Subsequent enquiries and investigation revealed that many others had also witnessed the phantom of the wandering tramp, and all in the area of the church and banks of the site of the old canal.

The reported sightings of Charlie’s ghost have become few and far between since the peak of sightings back in the 1970s.

And yet it is possible that the spectre of the vagrant still roams. A head-covered, machete-wielding, pram-pushing ghost. Now that is the stuff of nightmares.


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