My Real Phantom of the Opera: The Cockpit Theatre London

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Theatre lighting designer DOUGLAS KUHRT shares his paranormal experience at the Cockpit Theatre in Marylebone in London.

Douglas Kuhrt
Douglas Kuhrt

After reading a number of your Spooky Isles articles (they’re great!), I wanted to share with you a spooky encounter I experienced in London many years ago. I have never really believed in the paranormal or anything of that nature, and I have worked in many theatres and venues in the West End and on Broadway during my career.

One day I was busy setting up props backstage at The Cockpit Theatre in Marylebone; between the two dressing rooms is a staircase that goes directly under the stage area.

All the lights were out down those stairs but I suddenly heard a noise, like something very heavy being dragged laboriously along the floor. As far as I knew I was all alone so I was quite startled, after a few seconds I nervously called down “Who’s there?!” The noise abruptly stopped and then an eerie cold chill went right through me.

Cockpit Theatre

Afterwards I saw the theatre’s security guard and told him what had just happened to me, he calmly said, “Oh that’s just our ghost, he’s a piano tuner, he got crushed to death under the stage years ago…. He’s alright if you just say hello to him.”, the security guard also went on to tell me that many people working at The Cockpit Theatre  had doors mysteriously shut on them in the past too.

Not sure if the bloke was winding me up, but from then on I always said “Hello” to the phantom piano tuner, and I never did hear that noise again. The experience isn’t something I have ever been able to fully explain, though I must admit I haven’t felt such a strange and unusual presence while working in a theatre since.

Find out more about Douglas Kuhrt’s work at


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