Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Phantom of Blackwall Tunnel

There have been many ghosts spotted and even photographed along the River Thames in London in recent years. The Thames is pronounced “tems” which rhymes with “gems”. I have shared several stories of ghostly hitchhikers on this blog. The Phantom seen at the Blackwall Tunnel is said to be a hitchhiker. There are two Blackwall Tunnels that run under the River Thames between the boroughs of Greenwich and Tower Hamlets. Stories about this strange hitchhiker started to surface in the early 1970s.

Today, the Blackwall Tunnel is apart of the A102 road. The original tunnel was built in 1897 to improve commerce and trade in London’s East End. By the 1930s this one tunnel could no longer handle the traffic demands. 

Plans were made for a second tunnel to be built but World War ll delayed this process. It was not until 1967 a second tunnel was completed. Both tunnels originally supported a mixture of foot, cycle, and vehicular traffic. Today the tunnels are no longer open to pedestrian or other non-vehicular traffic. In recent years there have been plans to build a third tunnel but they have been tabled.

Greenwich Peninsula 1910

The stories of this phantom hitchhiker in this tunnel have varied over the years. Some accounts name this ghost as a female others state it is a male. Some stories state this phantom is picked up at the south entrance of the north tunnel. Other accounts state this hitchhiker is picked up in the tunnel itself. This is unusual since there is no longer foot traffic allowed. All accounts mention that it is a Good Samaritan on a motorcycle that gives this ghost a ride.

The hitchhiker climbs on the back of the motorcycle and asks to be taken to Leigh-on-Sea in Essex. In all accounts, before the motorcyclist exists the tunnel on the northern bank of the river, the passenger has disappeared. In one account this Good Samaritan feeling the hitchhiker had fallen off desperately searches but finds no trace. In shades of the traditional worldwide hitchhiker stories, this person visits the address in Leigh-on-Sea that was given to him and is told that his passenger actually died years before.

The reason given for this ghostly hitchhiker who is described as always wearing biker’s leathers is said to be the result of a 1960 motorcycle accident. This cyclist died just outside the tunnel. It was after this that people started reporting picking up this unworldly hitchhiker. A letter published in the Fortean Times * in 1994 supports the fact this accident happened. A reader recounts an incident in 1960 while he was staying in Blackwall Lane, near the tunnel.

He, his father-in-law and his wife all heard an accident outside. When they went outside to investigate they found out a motorcyclist had been killed. One week later he and his wife heard at 2:00 a.m. the sound of the same accident. But this time when they went out to investigate there were no signs of an accident or anything that explained what they had heard. It seems the sounds of this accident also haunt the Blackwall Tunnel.

Gateway Southern Entrance
Photo: Danny Robinson
Southern Portal

*  The Fortean Times is a good resource for anyone interested in a wide variety of paranormal topics.

Here is a link to a video of cars driving through the Blackwall Tunnel--it starts at southern entrance gateway. These tunnels travel a long distance underground.

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