Photograph © Paul Fitz-George 2016


The West End Ghost Book

 

This ghost book after great deliberations and a start in 'the last century!' has now at last been published.  I have been compiling ghost stories from London's West End for many years now, some I researched at old libraries in The City, others I picked up when I used to work at Baker Street and Berkeley Square, where I was one of the last Thomas Cook uniformed men.

 It is now available at Amazon as an e-book, paperback and in a great new audio book version narrated by the US actor Time Winters, who has appeared in the Star Trek Next Generation and Babylon 5 TV shows to name but a few.

Just click on the YouTube icon below, for a lightening tour in images of the ghosts haunting London's West End and that appear in this book.

I hope you enjoy this short film sampler and that it encourages you to delve more deeply into these stories’ fascinating backgrounds.

 

 

 You can also listen to a free promotion track by simply clicking on the words in red above, or one of the Amazon links below and then clicking on the 'listen' option below the book's cover.  You will then hear Time narrating the terrifying tale of the Succubus, a female demon that devours men's life forces should they chance to be foolish enough to sleep in Green Park's gardens overnight.

 To give you a taste of the book's stories, I've reproduced one of them in full below for you to read with my compliments and I have had a premonition (yes I'm psychic too!) that it will undoubtedly draw you into purchasing the full spine-tingling work, enjoy!

 To buy this prestigious book (now available worldwide),  just click on the following 'createspace' icon links that will take you right to Amazon's pages for the book's purchase in all available formats.   The UK and US links now follow and if you accesss your local country's (Germany, Japan, Mexico etc.) Amazon store page, it will have it on their site at the local currency price: -

UK link:-

 

US Link:- 

Auntie's Apparitions

 

                                                                                   Photograph ©Paul Fitz-George 2016

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) that clarion caller of the airwaves that we all know and love, is one of those comfortable radio broadcasting institutions we listen to it at home or in far away global cities and tourist haunts.   Like all such long- lived and venerated institutions, it has its fair share of scary spooks, these accumulated over years of broadcasting and since it was formed on October the 8th 1922.

Many of these ethereal apparitions apparently inhabit its stately art deco radio broadcasting headquarters designed by Val Myer and built in 1932, which was constructed to emulate the prow of a luxury liner of the thirties or as one article suggests, a 'battleship of modernism'1 Interestingly, the stately Langham hotel that lies just across the road from Broadcasting House, was at one point in time an office and accommodation annex of Broadcasting House and because of this has, along with Broadcasting House itself, played its part in the Beeb's supernatural CV.

One interesting apparition at the Langham, is a dapper Victorian spectre that on one October night (apparently October is the only month during which it is seen) in 1973, materialised in room 333 and proceeded to haunt the radio broadcaster James Alexander Gordon.  In Brooks' 'Ghosts of London'2, the sleeping Gordon, dreaming perhaps of the next day's breaking news that he would soon reveal to a breathless nation, was startled into consciousness by a coalescing 'fluorescent ball' at the far end of his bedroom.  Terrified, Gordon watched as the manifestation slowly metamorphosised and gradually assumed the form of a gentleman in evening dress and resplendent in cravat and cloak.  However, the manifestation did not take solid form, but unnervingly for Gordon remained translucent, the washbasin behind it clearly discernable to Gordon through its spectral persona.

Boldly or in this case perhaps unwisely, Gordon demanded (albeit in a timid voice) that the apparition state its name and purpose.  He received no reply from the unwelcome visitor, who instead and to Gordon's absolute horror opened its arms, ascended several feet into the air and like a vengeful Nosferatu complete with a 'terrifying and unblinking stare'2, made a beeline towards the now hysterical and hapless Gordon.  Gordon then did what all sensible mortals (myself included) do in this sort of situation and made a bolt for the door, not stopping until he arrived gibbering before a perturbed commissionaire (security guard) in the main ground floor lobby. 

Did he receive sympathy?  Was he immediately believed and given a large brandy?  Absolutely not!  The commissionaire remained resolutely unconvinced about Gordon's account of the whole event and simply sent our intrepid and shaken newsreader back to his room by himself to grab his clothes and to Gordon's horror, the spectre was still there!  For some reason however (and this time to Gordon's relief) it had gone into some sort of 'distracted phantom's pause mode' and was beginning to dissipate, thus enabling Gordon to scramble past it, grab his clothes and make his escape.

The next morning in Broadcasting House Gordon hurriedly blurted out his story to the bubbly Ray Moore of Radio 2's breakfast show fame, but before he could gabble it out in all its horrific detail, Moore raised a knowing hand, basically telling Gordon, 'been there, seen that and did a runner just like you'.  Interestingly, in Ray Moor's recollection of Gordon telling him the story that is contained in Hallam's 'Ghosts of London' 3, he mentions that Gordon said he threw a boot at the dapper gent, which passed straight through the spectre and then switched the room's light on to scare it away, but this didn't seem to perturb it in any way? 

Finally, another staff member Peter Donaldson also confirmed seeing the glow from the apparition, not the apparition itself however, as the curtains were closed3, in this instance it being engaged in trying to thrust him out of his bed.   

We have already mentioned Gordon's co-worker Ray Moore and the next story about the Langham's claim to ghostly guests, concerns him and the apparently suicidal spectre of a German Army officer, this first seen at a window ledge on the fourth floor just prior to the start of the First World War.  Ray Moor's sighting took place whilst he was in room 33, not 333 as Brooks mentioned in his book, though the rooms are both located on the hotel's third floor and appear to be synonymous, with regard to the previously mentioned evening suited phantom's haunting.

In Hallam's story titled 'The Man in Room 33'3, the valiant Ray Moore is trying to get to sleep in the room but is having a bout of insomnia, no doubt vexing himself over what best gags to use in that morning's Radio 2 breakfast show.  His wit as I recall, made us all wake up with a laugh or a groan depending on how good the gag actually was.  Frustrated in this instance by his inability to sleep, he gets up and pulls open the bedroom window for a breath of fresh air and a glance out at the metropolis.  Suddenly, he becomes aware of a large man in archaic military uniform buttoned to the corner and with an equally military crew-cut hairstyle, standing on a fourth floor room's windowsill in the block directly opposite his.  

Unlike the head-boring and 'terrifying stare' of the be-cloaked spectre that Gordon encountered, our military man stared not at Moor but right down into the well void between the hotel's opposing blocks and ground below.  Moor recounts that the man's hands were clasped behind his back and his body was surrounded with an 'aura of bright white light'3.  At this point Moor's unconscious mind appears to have quickly put two and two together and he dutifully ran down to the long-suffering commissionaire's to alert them, the man's imminent suicidal intent seemingly all too obvious to the worried Moore.

 

Photograph ©Paul Fitz-George 2016

 

Unsurprisingly and in a similar way to Gordon's story, the commissionaire adopted a stoical but respectful indifference to Moor's alarm, casually mentioning that it '…sounded like the German officer who committed suicide before World War I'3.  He also resolutely refused to leave his post, these sorts of reports and alarums apparently happening with a most annoying regularity at this 'haven before heaven'. 

Ray Moor however was not a man to be trifled with and made a point of telling all his esteemed colleagues about his encounter with the unnerving supernatural apparition.  And of course they all promptly laughed their heads off.  Oh the indignity, oh the serpent like tongues of the unbelieving!  Anyway, Moor was so earnest in his belief that the story apparently featured on a TV news programme in the UK called Nationwide…and everyone giggled at him there too, but I say full 'ghost hunter respect' to Ray Moor for trying!

Moving swiftly across the road to Broadcasting House proper and making sure you don't join the local ghost set by getting run down in busy Portland Place, we enter the hallowed halls of Broadcasting House itself.  Let me now introduce you to the 'bewhiskered figure of a butler'3, who walks the fourth and other floors of these corridors of fame with a tray of refreshments, he being seen by staff over the years at more or less the same time this being early morning.  As with our earlier dapper Victorian phantom, there is some confusion regarding our spectre butler's exact location in the building and opinion is most certainly divided as to his haunting persona.

An engineer who saw him on the eighth floor thought he was a waiter or a musician (sort of Blues Brothers  - he look's like either an FBI agent or musician scenario?).  Some radio producers thought he was a show compere or a newscaster and reckon that he is 'always vanishing near a door'? 3 Finally we have the young sprog who has just joined seeing our butler and noticing that he 'walked with a limp and had a large hole in the heel of his left sock'3

Other interesting variations on the story by authorities of the ghostly tales fraternity, include Peter Underwood's proposition4 that his tray is in fact empty, he does limp, but he very interestingly moves 'abnormally slowly'3 as if in another time phase and as if he is moving within 'a slow motion film'3.  Underwood also mentions another ghost, more a supernatural entity than a strictly human persona, described by the broadcaster Brian Matthew to Underwood, as being a 'bat-like creature that seemed to jump out of a wall'3.

So why has the Langham been such a 'must stay' address for supernatural entities and what or who actually walks the corridors or bursts out of the walls of Broadcasting House?   The above stories have been documented many times, but what, in the technical parlance of the supernatural world actually caused them? 

Well, in the case of the Langham, it may well be the fame effect of the building, i.e. the fame attached to the type and charisma of people who stayed there that results in stories being told about it, e.g. as in the case of the Tower of London.  It could also be the depths of emotion that can sometimes be released and recorded in a place when someone suddenly dies there, either murdered or in the depths of suicidal despair.

The Langham when first built between 1863 and 1865 and was the biggest and most modern hotel in London at that time.  Its guests and those who have enjoyed its luxuries, included Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde and Dvorak, with writers like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle setting scenes in their stories such as 'A scandal in Bohemia' within it.   With a pedigree like that, it's bound to have acted as a psychic recording device (as so many famous buildings do).

Firstly then, let us look at the dapper, evening suit attired ghost encountered by Gordon.  This looks to me like a 'restless spirit' and 'cyclic ghost' combination.  In this case the spectre may have been murdered in the month of October, hence his consistent, cyclic appearance in the room only during that month.  He basically wants justice and revenge his failure to realise this being the cause of his restlessness and continued haunting.   His stare may well be fixed upon his murderer, or possibly a faithless partner who was instrumental in his death.   

Why two different room numbers - 33 and 333 - in Messrs Gordon and Moor's stories for the dapper Victorian gent's haunting?  They both recall being haunted by this particular ghosts, the German officer being a separate event experienced by Moore only?   Like parish records with their myriad variations on the same family names, this is probably just a case of human error.  This tends to occur more frequently in the ambiguities and hearsay inherent within supernatural and folk tales, than details recorded in more academically rigorous narratives about things and events that occur in the ordinary, day-to-day world.

 

 

 Photograph ©Paul Fitz-George 2016

Our unfortunate German officer, if he is German as many European officers' armies adopted similar uniform styles, is regrettably all too easy to decipher.  He was in all probability a desperate man who ended his life, by jumping to his death from the window ledge and he is probably a best fit for the 'psychic recording ghost' category.  He knew what he was doing, he did it and the psychic energy released at the point of his death repeats (plays the recording of) his tragic solution again and again. 

As for Broadcasting House, similar sorts of theories apply though the 'psychic recording ghost' one probably fits our wandering butler best.  This is a man who did his job day in and day out and at the point of death, he is suddenly and to his total surprise is struck down.  He may be physically dead, but his soul or life energy is so attached to his workplace and the event was so surprising that although his physical presence is gone, the psychic energy released by him at the point of death has been recorded within the very fabric of the building. 

For a good explanation of this theory watch the BBC's absolutely ripping TV drama 'The Stone Tape', which I think gives an excellent explanation of this type of phenomena and some clips of it are available on YouTube.  The fact that our butler is seen in several places and that his movements are dysfunctional and strangely out of time, are probably due to some fragmentation of his persona at death, when he was simultaneously written or recorded into multiple parts of the building he worked in, as his confused consciousness (taken unawares at his sudden death) was severed from his body. 

What about the bat-like creature leaping out of the wall?  Well you've got me there and this may simply be down to the viewer being in a tired state between wakefulness and sleep and seeing something inexplicable.  I once saw a six-foot pigeon walking along a path in London's Green Park when I was very tired and overworked, but I very much doubt if it was actually there!

And so we complete our visit to 'Auntie's' corridors of radio fame and the mysteries of the luxurious Langham Hotel, which I am very pleased to say has been resurrected and is now back in all its Victorian glory.  I stayed there not so long ago in a lovely (not haunted) room and had a great stay, paying particular attention to its delightful cocktail bar.  Perchance after a few glasses of Brandy Alexander or calvados in the bar's comfortable surrounds, the spirits of Mr Wilde, Mr Twain, or Sir Arthur may well pull up a chair next to you to discuss their ghostly successes, whilst you slowly drift off to the quite whispers of the bar's living occupants. 

 

Photograph ©Paul Fitz-George 2016

BBC Broadcasting House Entrance in all its Glory

 

 

Please note.  The superscript numbers refer to a full bibliography, which is available in the published electronic e-book.

 © Paul Fitz-George 2013-2016

The names English Ghosts, englishghosts.com and The West End Ghost Book are the sole property of Paul Fitz-George and any unauthorised use or copying of these terms is forbidden.