HAUNTED South London train stations are all too common, says EDDIE BRAZIL, author of Haunted Camberwell
Phantom footsteps at Elephant and Castle
The Elephant and Castle tube station is said to be haunted by phantom footsteps, knockings, tapings and doors which open of their own accord.
Staff working night duty have reported the sound of footsteps ascending the stairways leading from one of the platforms to the booking hall.
When investigated there is no one to account for them.
A night porter on late shift duty reported that the door of his room would often open and close on its own.
Whenever he looked out to see if anyone was there, the platform was eerily deserted.
Other staff, using the porters room at night also had the unnerving experience of hearing the sound of footsteps walking along the platform and halting outside the room.
A few seconds later the “tap, tap, tap” of someone knocking from outside was heard.
Yet when the porter opened the door there was no one to be seen.
The man was so disturbed by his experience that he refused to work at the station again.
It is thought that the footsteps could be the ghostly echo of a young woman whose apparition has been seen by both staff and passengers.
The young lady has been observed entering the train’s carriages, but is never seen leaving.
Ghost of the Kennington Loop
A short distance south of Elephant and Castle, another of the tubes network of stations has been the site of reported paranormal phenomena.
Kennington station forms part of the Northern Line. It is also the terminus for the Charring Cross branch line. To prevent the need for shunting, terminating trains proceed in to what is known as the Kennington loop.
This is essentially a continuation of the track which allows trains to carry on and double back to a platform facing in the right direction for the return journey.
Passengers are not allowed to remain on the train as it makes way around the loop, and guards, along with platform staff check all carriages to ensure they are empty.
One night in 1980, a train, which had entered the loop, was held at a red signal before it could proceed in to the station.
It was during that time that something extraordinary occurred.
As they waited, both driver and guard heard the unmistakable sound of the trains interconnecting carriage doors open and slam shut.
The two men naturally assumed that the other was making his way through the train to report on something. Yet, when they looked, the carriages were empty.
This was strange as both knew they were the only people on board.
The incident was reported, and to their surprise the two men learned that other train crews had also experienced the opening and slamming of the carriage doors.
Soon train crews were relating the tale of the passenger who tried to board the train as it was moving by way of the connecting doors.
Tragically he lost his footing and was dragged in to the tunnel and killed.
A ghost who will forever haunt the Kennington loop?
Oval and Stockwell’s mysterious maintenance man
One night in 1984, Paul Fisher, a London Underground trainee manager, was required to walk the line between Oval and Stockwell stations.
His training included that he be familiar with and understand operational procedures.
Half way along the walk he came to a opening out of the tube tunnel know as south Island place.
Here, he encountered an elderly man who seemed to be working on part of the track.
Much to his surprise he noticed that the man was using an old tilly oil lamp, and commented that he thought that they had done away with such lamps years before.
The old man replied that he preferred to use them. After some further conversational pleasantries the trainee manager bid the old man good night and continued on his track walk to Stockwell.
On arriving at the station he informed the line controller that he had completed the walk, and added that he had spoken to the maintenance man at South Island Place.
This surprised the controller as no track workers had been booked on that night. The controller told the trainee to re enter the tunnel and check back to South Island Place where he would meet him.
Twenty minutes later the two men met at South Island Place, but there was no sign of the old man with the lamp.
Nonetheless, Paul Fisher was adamant that he spoken with a track maintenance man.
Fisher was later asked if he knew of the ghost stories associated with South Island Place, and the spirit of a track worker who was said to haunt the place; he didn’t.
In 1950, a track maintenance man, working on a noisy compressor, failed to hear a approaching train and was killed.
At the moment of impact the driver of the train noticed that the old man was carrying a tilly lamp.
Did Paul Fisher talk to a railway worker who had been dead for over 30 years?
Cries of souls lost in Lewisham train disaster
In 1985, a British rail inspector, who had been working on the St Johns railway bridge at Lewisham in South London, was waiting for a bus only 100 yards from the Lewisham Station.
The time was 2am, and the, damp, misty streets were deserted.
Suddenly, he heard the sound of someone calling for help.
The voice seemed to be coming from the roof of the tall buildings around him, and the person appeared to be trapped.
The police were called, and, on arriving at the scene, the attending officers could also here the cries for help.
However, the constables, much to the mans surprise were unperturbed by what they could here.
“No one is trapped sir,” they informed the inspector. “People often here voices calling for help. They are the ghosts of those killed in the 1957, Lewisham train disaster .”
At 6.18pm, on the evening of the 4th of December 1957 and electric train out of Charing Cross en route to Hayes, and carrying 1500 people, stopped at a red signal just outside the station.
A following steam locomotive failed to see the signal and ploughed in to the rear. Ninety passengers were killed and over 100 injured.
The Camberwell Ghost Train haunts the night
One of the most romantic, and pleasantly eerie sounds to hear in the dead of night is perhaps the distant whistle of a steam locomotive as it trundles its way through deep cuttings and empty stations en route to remote, unknown towns.
I can recall, as a child in 1960s, London, laying in bed awake and hearing the far off hoot, rattle and clack of a express racing through the night. Definitely one of the most evocative and haunting sounds of the small hours.
Yet the pleasures of a trains distant echo is one thing, to encounter a roaring, clanking goods train which should not be there is a totally different experience.
For is it possible for a loco to posses a soul?
Can the dismantled steel, iron and brass of forgotten engine return to haunt the tracks it once steamed along. For two unsuspecting young men it is entirely possible.
In November, 1983, two barmen, who had been working a the Athenaeum public house in Camberwell, were walking home along Camberwell New Road.
They had reached station road, and were probably unaware that the converted mechanics garage just to their left was once Camberwell station.
It was opened in 1862 on the London to Dover Railway, but closed in 1916 due to lack of passengers.
As the men proceeded under the railway bridge they heard the approach of a train.
Both were surprised, as the time was nearly 3am, and it puzzled them that a service would still be running at that hour.
Yet they halted, for what they heard was not the clean sound of an electric train or rumble of a diesel, but the unmistakeable huff and hiss of a steam locomotive chuffing its way across the bridge.
Both men quickly retraced their steps to get a better look at the ancient loco, but when they gazed up to the top of the crossing there was no train to be seen, no belching smoke or glow from its fire box.
Yet still they could hear the sound of the engine. Both stared at the other in astonishment. And then without warning the sound ceased. It didn’t fade away or become lost in the noise of the city.
One moment they could hear it, the next silence, as if a radio or speaker had been abruptly switched off.
Perhaps a phantom goods train is still transporting its cargo to the coast unaware that its body lies in pieces in a forgotten scrap yard.