England’s famous London Underground railway-system serves Greater London and parts of the surrounding counties of Essex, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire. It’s also the world’s oldest underground network of its type: services began on January 10, 1863 on the Metropolitan Railway. And while the overall Underground itself is not, of course, a secret location, it certainly has had more than its fare share of classified, off-limits sections during the course of its long and, literally, winding existence. Not only that: the Underground has had more than a few connections to the strange world of Forteana, too.
At the height of the Second World War, when the Nazis were engaged in widespread bombing missions on London, the deep tunnels of the Underground were used as safe-havens for the populace of the nation’s bomb-scarred capital. Also, during this same time-frame, a part of the Central Line was clandestinely converted into an aircraft-factory, while the Brompton Road Station was massively reconditioned: it became a secret anti-aircraft control center. And, for a while, none other than the British Prime Minister of the day, Sir Winston Churchill, used the defunct Down Street Station as a secret haven from which to carefully plot pulverizing retaliation against the swarming forces of Adolf Hitler.
According to some, however, the London Underground is home to much more than just tracks, trains and countless commuters: deep within the intricacies of this sub-surface maze of dark and old tunnels, distinctly strange and terrible things are said to lurk. And the British Government, not exactly in control of the darkness that is spreading uncontrollably beneath the ancient capital city, is determined to keep the truth of these terrifying, underground secrets steadfastly away from the eyes and ears of both the public and the media. One case stands out as being particularly intriguing.
Maureen Abbott saw what she describes as a large black panther [in reality, black panthers are simply melanistic big-cats, such as cougars and leopards, whose bodies contain an over-abundance of dark pigmentation] that was racing along the track as she stood, alone, awaiting a train on the Bakerloo Line, late one Winter evening in either 1954 or 1955, while in her late-twenties at the time. Describing the animal as running very fast, she said that as it passed her, it quickly looked in her direction, with a menace-filled frown on its visage, before vanishing into the darkness of the tunnels. Although Abbott did not see the creature again, she has never forgotten her brief, terrifying encounter with the unknown, deep below the city of London.
And there is a very curious sequel to Abbott’s encounter: two-days later, she was visited at her home by a government official who, while the pair sat and drank cups of tea, advised her, in fairly relaxed tones, not to talk about the experience. Of course, to a degree, this aspect of Abbott’s story inevitably conjures up and provokes Men in Black-style imagery. If true, it suggests that elements of the British Government may wish to keep exceedingly quiet the fact that wild animals are on the loose in the heart of London’s old tunnels. A sobering thought, indeed!