Echoes in the dark: The Thames Tunnel Phantom

Gaze into the darkness between Rotherhithe and Wapping, and you might just catch a glimpse of the past. Beneath the river, pale arches flicker in the glare from the train window, a ghostly reminder that the Thames Tunnel wasn’t built for modern commuters.

Isambard’s father, Marc Brunel, pioneered the tunnelling shield to construct London’s first under river tunnel. It still took floods, deaths and twenty years to complete.… Read more

A Hampstead Horror: The Ghost House

These letters were sent to us by an American reader of the blog. He found them among the possessions of his mother, who died recently. Born in London, she had become estranged from her English family, who for several generations lived by the edge of Hampstead Heath, mainly in the same large house.

We have transcribed what was sent to us: photocopies of sections of the letters, with dates and other details left out.Read more

Mist shrouded cities: The Newcourt Continuum

The Metropolitan Police helicopter crew recently deleted a tweet. Their twitter account is followed as much for atmospheric photos of London-from-above as it is for crime fighting updates. But now it seems – for a few brief minutes – it was an unwitting source of evidence for a phenomena categorised as a multiverse infringement.

As far as we know the tweet wasn’t cached, so we make do with reports from those who saw it during its short life.… Read more

Distant Music: The Hackney Wick Bakehouse Breach

Six years have passed since the events described below. By nature, the story is difficult to confirm, but key elements make it a candidate for the catalogue.

Glenn White talks a mile a minute. We give over the remainder of this post to his (minimally edited) account:

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This was Summer, 2012. The Olympics. The purple-shirt guys everywhere. I was out around Hackney a lot because of my job.… Read more

A shadow in Georgian London: The House of Hidden Things

The Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens were a place to lose oneself. Laid out among Lambeth’s green fields as an escape from 17th Century London, over the following 200 years they became a virtual town in themselves, an unrivalled destination for music and theatre, drinking and bear-baiting.

But there was seclusion and shadow amid the noise. Dark, tree-lined alleys were a favourite haunt of the amorous.… Read more

Faraway islands (part 2): Simon’s Ait

(Part one can be found here)

Upstream, where the suburban boroughs of South West London merge into Surrey’s monied greenery, a number of small islands dot the Thames. Raven’s Ait, Lot’s Ait, Oliver’s Island: the names alone beckon, and these islets have long been a source of legend, carrying stories of secret underwater tunnels and Crusoe-style recluses.

But the river may hide something stranger.… Read more

Faraway islands (part 1): The Stockwell Bus Garage Manifestation

London is melting. In a shady corner pub along the South Lambeth Road, large open windows bring a warm, welcome breeze. Jason Allen, who has just cycled from the Brixton primary school he works in, discusses the weather we’re currently hiding from. Its slow, entropic quality has stirred in him thoughts of an even hotter fortnight – the record-breaking heatwave of June/July 1976 – and the strange other world he associates it with.… Read more

Shadows and clocks: Temporal Disturbances at Hornsey Town Hall

Hornsey Town Hall is suspended in time, caught between a vanished past and an uncertain future. Recently, we walked through the revolving doors of this crumbling Crouch End landmark, right into one of the last guided tours before the building closes for redevelopment. We tagged along. The guide was passionate, informative and – unsurprisingly – mentioned nothing of the rumours of temporal disturbances which had brought PoL there in the first place.… Read more

A light in the sky: The Eye of Bermondsey

On September 3rd, 1939, London was in turmoil. That morning, Prime Minister Chamberlain had informed the nation that Britain was at war with Hitler’s Germany. The evacuation of children was already underway, and many Londoners were responding to the first sirens and retreating to their Anderson shelters.

But in Honor Oak, a retired milkman named Albert Evans was heading outside.… Read more

Dark parliaments: The House of Uncommons and The Other Other Place

The recent silencing, for maintenance reasons, of the bell known as Big Ben met a suitably muted response from the nation. A half-hearted effort by a handful of MPs to lend the moment significance faded on the wind. But, on the day the last chimes rang across Westminster – and the small group held their vigil outside the Big Ben tower – it seems that inside the Houses of Parliament, a disruption may indeed have been felt.… Read more