Features Leytonstone

The haunting of Leytonstone Tube station

Podcaster Aiden Lonergan reports his local Tube station may offer a service to the beyond

A roundel at Leytonstone Tube Station (credit: Sunil060902/Wikimedia)
A roundel at Leytonstone Tube Station (credit: Sunil060902/Wikimedia)

Standing on the platform, bracing from the cold and with hands wrapped tightly around a cup of coffee, one could be forgiven for seeing strange forms or shapes through bleary, sleep-starved eyes at Leytonstone Tube station. The latest figures suggest the station plays host to over 9million commuters annually – unsurprising considering its convenient position on the Central line. This statistic, however, only accounts for passengers from the land of the living. If the recorded history of hauntings at the station is anything to go by, then perhaps the Old World style chap standing next to you is less suave socialite and more spooky spectre. At least he’ll save money by not having to purchase an Oyster Card.

The station’s most tragic ghostly resident dates back to the Second World War – more precisely just a month before it ended. During the war, tunnels connected to the station were used as an aircraft components factory, while the section closest to Leytonstone itself acted as a public air raid shelter. The station saw its fair share of action, most notably a bomb in January 1944 that decimated part of the station buildings. Another such raid, in the summer of 1945, tragically resulted in the death of a serviceman, whose ghost is said to haunt the station, unaware that the conflict has long since ended. He has been seen briskly walking along the platform before seemingly vanishing in the oncoming headlights of a carriage.

However, by far the most famous ghost allegedly spotted at the Tube station is famed director Sir Alfred Hitchcock, who reportedly prowls the Leytonstone area in general, perhaps not content with his fill of terrifying audiences during his life with the likes of The Birds and Psycho. To honour the centenary of his birth in 1899, the station was adorned with mosaics depicting iconic scenes from his body of work, unveiled slightly late in 2001. In addition to prowling the entrance to the Leyton flats opposite the hotel that bears his name, Sir Hitchcock has supposedly been spotted in the sloping hallway containing the mosaics at the station, perhaps enjoying a bit of post-mortem self-admiration. I spoke to Humphrey (not his real name), a TFL worker in the ticket hall of the Tube station one evening. He looked at me incredulously when I asked him if he had been a witness to any of these paranormal entities but said he would “love to”, if only to make his shift more interesting. A worker in a nearby shop was also sadly bereft of any spooky sightings, although she was keen to tell me about a karaoke competition between some drunken citizens outside the station recently – surely a terrifying sight in its own right.

So the jury is still out on whether Leytonstone Tube station is truly haunted but, given its history, perhaps you should look again if you see a commuter in clothes not from this decade. They may be a visitor from the other side – or just a purveyor of the vintage markets in Mile End.

For more unexplained and true crime tales, listen to Aiden’s podcast John Doe & Co, available on most major platforms, with new episodes every Monday.