The Ghosts of Glasgow Subway
Glasgow Subway is steeped in history, officially the third oldest in the world. Behind only London (1890) and Budapest (1896).
First opening December 1896, the Subway has seen an incredible transformation in Glasgow, from the people to the buildings, Glasgow has changed beyond all recognition.
But what about Glasgow of the past? Did you know that during the initial creation of the Glasgow Subway 118 years ago, construction teams had to dig through hundreds of decaying bodies, plague pits and burial grounds, in creating a monument for Glasgow’s future, workmen were literally digging through the bodies of Glasgow’s past. Disturbing the eternal rest of the long time dead.
Ever since the creation of the Subway there have been rumours of ghosts and apparitions. Can you really say that on a cold, dark, rainy, night whilst standing waiting for the subway to arrive, you feel completely alone or you’ve never heard a voice or a noise, turned round expecting to see someone walking down the stairs to join you on the platform and there is no-one there.
Standing waiting in the Underground and you feel a chill run up your body, the hairs on the back of your neck stand on edge, yet you don’t feel cold, what if that’s the spirits of Glasgow’s past, making their presence known. Or due to the desecration of their final resting place, the spirits are left to aimlessly wander Glasgow Underground for eternity.
What happens if they become restless? What happens if they develop resentment? What happens if the deceased grow bitter at the living disrupting their hallowed graves?
Glasgow Living has a list of the ghosts and ghouls that have been spotted roaming the hallowed tunnels of Glasgow Subway. A total of nine different sightings have been reported in Glasgow Underground, ranging from unknown presences to full body apparitions.
We begin our list back in the late 1800’s and with the construction of the Subway, signalling a promising future for Glasgow, the workmen tasked with completing the arduous task, faced excavating bodies rotting in the earth for hundreds of years.
The last thing workman expected to come into contact with was ghostly apparitions, but multiple workman digging through West Street in Glasgow City Centre, working in unbelievably harsh conditions, complained of tools being moved, seconds after being put down, or vanishing completely.
Alone in the darkness, digging into hundreds of years of decomposed bodies, it was easy to understand why the workers fears would escalate, they began to suspect that there was something else down there in the darkness with them, something not of this world, something unGodly.
One particular shift, a local workman was digging under West Street, halting to take a five minute break, he downed tools and lay back. He was alone and knew no-one would be in to check on him for hours.
Avoiding his tools, he carefully moved his paraffin lamp away from where he was working, ensuring he wouldn’t accidentally immolate himself. Turning around to stretch out, he was horrified to discover the entire tunnel behind him was covered in a gassy mist.
A mist so dense, it was almost impenetrable to see his own hand, mere inches from his face.
The terrified worker, remembering the rumours from co workers about possible gas pockets and the danger a paraffin flame could cause, immediately extinguished the flame from his lamp.
The darkness surrounded him like an ocean of fear, consuming every inch of light, until nothing but himself, and the dying embers of a paraffin lamp were left.
The workman was no child, he had been alone in the darkness before, many times, he never really gave it much consideration, but this time was different. It was as if the dark was squeezing him, compressing the air out his lungs. His fear began to grow.
Another thing that sprang to his attention. In his shock at discovering a possible gas leak, and in the rush to extinguish any danger. The gas had appeared from behind him and there had been no loud hissing sound emanating from the earth, signifying any escaping gas.
The workers sense of panic began to escalate, the silence in the tunnel was deafening, his heartbeat pounded in his ears and the darkness seemed to be creeping into his lungs. Refusing him permission to breathe.
Scrambling back toward the entrance of the tunnel, the worker was petrified to hear the sound of clattering metal metres in front of him, tools being knocked over. “My tools? he thought. “No they can’t be, my tools are back where I was digging.”
“Hel…hello?” The petrified man stuttered, “is somebody there?”
Trying to regain control of the situation. He said. “We’ll need to get out.” He paused for breath, “I think there’s a gas leak, I had to put out my lamp.”
Only the abyss of complete darkness, and the sound of his own laboured, panicked breath echoed throughout the tunnel.
Deciding it was time to leave the area, the un-named workman, tentatively made his way to the entrance to the work site, starting to feel slightly relieved at the thought of getting out into the open and back to terra-firma.
Struggling along, staring into pitch darkness, the workman, prayed for a glint of light, for re-assurance he was heading in the correct direction.
But there was no glimmer of light, and he was now unsure whether he was even going the right way.
Without warning, something brushed past his neck, spinning round on his heels, he found himself staring into the dark abyss.
He was sure he could hear faint voices, from every direction, circling him, closer and closer, louder and louder, without warning he was struck, falling to his knees, the workman, was attacked, not with violence, but with the ache of a thousand dead souls. The pain of being woken from an eternal sleep.
The pain of losing a thousand loved ones, the shift worker felt like he was being infested by the souls of Glasgow’s dead.
With the unbearable pain in his chest multiplying, he was sure death was moments away. Closing his eyes and clutching his chest, he let the darkness take him.
The next thing he knew, he was outside, in the summer sun, surrounded by concerned workmates.
Grimacing at the sun, he sat up.
“Jesus pal!” Said one of the concerned looking men. “For a minute we thought you’d stopped breathing”.
“You’ve been underground for hours,” another said “three of us came looking, and found you down below, clutching your chest.”
The relieved workman told the group about the possible gas leak, and recommended that the site be shut until further investigation, but decided to skip the reason for his collapse, putting it down the “gas leak” and a lack of oxygen.
Being excused the rest of his shift, the workman was allowed to head home.
Before he headed home, he noticed one of the workers had waited until the crowd dispersed, he approached and said something truly disturbing. “Did they get you?” he said. “Did you feel it in your heart? The pain. The ache…The fear? Did you hear the Clatter?”
The man, in complete denial, softly shook his head, to signal “no”.
“You can’t hide from it” he warned. “Wait until tonight, the dead don’t rest, they don’t sleep, the dead never die.”
Bursting into a run, to escape his tormentor, the man was relieved to finally reach his home, but the words rang around his head like midday church bells.
Later, deciding on an early night, he was lying in bed, completely exhausted from the days horror show, but couldn’t shake the prophetic words from his head. Over and over again the words spun, constantly trying to work out what they meant, he puzzled. “What fear? What ache? The dead don’t what?” He thought.
Turning over to finally fall asleep, the man was shocked to find the sun was beginning to rise,¨how long had I been lying in bed awake?¨he pondered.
The words of the man from earlier became horribly prophetic “The dead don’t rest, the dead don’t sleep, the…dead…never…die.”
That was 118 years ago. I was 30 at the time of the subway being built, and since then I’ve not had a single solitary moments sleep, I’ve watched every member of my family die. I’ve had to leave other family members behind because they’ve failed to understand why I haven’t aged and why night after night, I don’t sleep.
I’ve tried killing myself, drowning myself, even an overdose of painkillers. Could you imagine what it’s like to never feel the heat of the sun on your face? I’m still too afraid of setting myself on fire in case I’m left for eternity in agonising pain.
Every night I am tormented by the souls of the graves I disturbed. By the sound of metal banging together, being scraped against each other, over and over again. I now know what was meant when he asked me about the clatter.
Sometimes I travel down to West Street and just weep. How was I to know? How could I possibly know of the repercussions?
If you’re ever standing alone on an empty platform at West Street Subway and you start to see an odourless gas or feel something drift past your neck, don’t turn around, don’t look and be wary.
Please heed my warning. The…dead…don’t…rest.