The English language was not always the way it is
Life on the underground is not as it seems. Home to ghosts, plague pits, and the birthplace of Jerry Springer – London’s tube network has many a curious tale.
#1 During the Blitz of London in WW2 up to 150,000 people took to sleeping on Underground platforms to avoid the bombs. This developed into a social scene -with libraries, parties and dances. Jerry Springer was actually born on London’s underground as his mother sheltered from a WW2 bombing raid!
#2 Farringdon is alleged to be haunted by a screaming spectre, Bank by a nun, and Aldwych and Covent Garden by actors. Staff at Covent Garden claim to have seen William Terris (murdered here in 1897) dressed in his frock coat, hat and gloves. In the 1930s, claims that British Museum station was haunted were so rife that the Times offered a reward for someone to sleep there. No-one took the offer.
#3 Many original stations are now closed. British Museum closed in 1933, but you can see its dusty platforms as you flash between Tottenham Court Road and Holborn stations. This inspired the 1972 horror film Death Line, where cannibal descendants of Victorian railway workers feed on unwitting passengers. In reality, these stations were used for storage and in WW2 Aldwych was used to protect the treasures of the British Museum.
#4 The Underground is also responsible for some odd sights above ground. Numbers 23 and 24 Leinster Gardens look exactly like the surrounding 19th-century houses. From above you realize that they are just a 5ft thick brick wall with painted doors and windows. It was built for the original steam railway that required an exposed section.
#5 The next time you take a trip remember this – you may be passing over a plague pit. Over 1000 bodies lie under Aldgate Station, the victims of the 1665 plague epidemic. London buried them in deep pits and many remain today. When digging out the Victoria Line in the 1960s a boring machine ran into a plague pit at Green Park. The thought alone does give pause for thought on a late night journey.
#6 In 1999 science formally acknowledged what passengers on the London Underground had been complaining about for years – it has its very own species of mosquito living in the tunnels. Culex pipiens f. molestus had moved in and adapted itself to a life underground.