MJ WAYLAND describes a phantom speeding double-decker in 1930s Kensington
In the middle of the 1930s a large red London Bus, bearing a “7” route number harassed motorists in the North Kensington area of London.
The Junction of St Mark’s Road and Cambridge Gardens in that area had long been considered a dangerous corner – it was “blind” from both roads and had been the scene of numerous accidents.
The decision of the local authority to straighten out the bend was partially influenced by the testimony of late night motorists.
Many claimed that they had crashed while swerving to avoid a speeding double decker bus that hurtled down St Marks Road in the small hours, long after regular buses ceased service.
A typical report to the Kensington Police read “I was turning the corner and saw a bus tearing towards me.
The lights of the top and bottom decks and the headlights were full on but I could see no crew or passengers. I yanked my steering wheel hard over and mounted the pavement, scraping the roadside wall. The bus just vanished.”
After one fatal accident, during which a driver had swerved and hit the wall head on, an eyewitness told the coroner’s inquest that he had seen the mystery bus hurtling towards the car seconds before the driver spun off the road.
When the coroner expressed what was perhaps natural cynicism, hundreds of local residents wrote to his office and to the local newspapers offering to testify that they too, had seen the “Ghost Bus”.
Among the most impressing of these witnesses was a local transport official who claimed that he had seen the vehicle draw up to the local bus depot in the early hours of the morning, stand with engine purring for a moment, and then disappear.
Eventually the local council straightened out the road there, and the accident rate was greatly reduced. Thereafter there were no more reports of the ghostly red bus.