London is full of urban myths. Little stories and legends that circulate when people talk in corners.
That in London you’re never more than six feet away from a rat, that the first escalators on the London Underground were tested by a one-legged man.
These myths get distorted and exaggerated with time so we end up not knowing if there’s actually any truth in them at all.
READ MORE: The workers who were trapped in London sewers buried under rubble for 6 hours
One such tale is of the woman who was murdered with a pair of scissors on the London Underground and whose corpse was left travelling around and round on the Tube with passengers just thinking she was asleep.
The story of this macabre myth goes that, late one night, an unfortunate art student got on a Tube train that was empty apart from a man who looked to be in his 30s.
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Already feeling nervous, she was spooked when three people also got on – two men sat next to a woman in the middle – who she thought looked like drug addicts.
But then she really started to panic when the man in his 30s came over to the student and whispered to her: “Get off at the next stop”.
As her heart rate went through the roof, she didn’t know what to do but decided to take his advice.
When she got off and the train sped away with the trio still sitting on it, he told her the woman was dead.
We can only imagine the chill that went down her spine at that moment.
He had, he explained, seen the two men drag the woman onto the train with a pair of scissors sticking out of the back of her neck.
The legend was talked about on an Urban Mysteries forum online in 2007 and reported by the Londonist.
Lots of rumours were whispered about by people chatting on the forum. One claimed the dead woman was a ghost of someone killed at one of London’s abandoned Tube stations.
Another forum member claimed the murdered girl had lived in Sydney and the story had also been told there, except this time there were a trio of girls with the middle one staring at a girl who’d got on a subway train
More and more tales began to circulate online about the horrific murder.
One version of the story was told in a 1984 book by Rodney Dale called ‘It’s true, it happened to a friend’.
This version has a man sat between two other men. They get off and leave him sat there before he suddenly falls forwards and passengers see a knife embedded in his back.
Many other variations of the story have been told from New York to Naples and the characters have alternated from men to women. The the cause of death has changed from stabbings to drug overdoses to and alcohol poisonings.
How true this story is we’ll never know, but certainly searching the British Newspaper archive does not throw up any obvious details of such a crime. So if it did happen, it wasn’t reported.
However the archive does show there have been quite a few hideous murders on the London Underground over the course of the past 150 years or so.
There’s also plenty of examples of Londoners being stabbed with a pair of scissors, but we’ll save that for another story!