Ghost on the railway tracks – Leeds

The Middleton Railway in Leeds is the world’s oldest continuously operating railway, having been established as early as 1758. Today it is operated by a trust, ensuring that the pioneering history of this engineering feat is preserved for future generations. The railway also holds another, less salubrious world’s first, in so far as the site is thought to be the location of the first ever human death caused by being struck-down by a locomotive. In 1821, a young man by the name of David Brook was walking home from work along the track of the Middleton Railway. It was the start of December, so night had fallen early and the area was experiencing thick, heavy sleet, obscuring vision and blocking out the moonlight. The wind was up, whistling past David’s ears with a high pitched screech. As the young carpenter continued to plod along the tracks he was totally unaware of an approaching locomotive. Likewise, the train’s driver was unable to see more than a few meters in front of the train as it trundled through the night.

When David became aware of the approaching steam engine it was already too late. The train struck him down, pushing him onto the tracks and dragging him under the moving carriages. When David’s body was discovered it was mangled and broken. Reports stated that one of his arms was cleanly torn from the shoulder and that the victim’s stomach had burst open, exposing his guts and organs. The corpse was a bloody, pulped mess, having been rolled along the track under the train for as much as 100 meters. The young man left behind a wife and two daughters. According to the local legend, David’s wife and children were unable to support themselves following his death and were evicted from their home. They ended up in a near-by Poor House, where they became the de facto slaves of a factory owner. Sadly, the poor house was where the two daughters ended their lives, both succumbing to an outbreak of TB in 1823.

Since the accident all those years ago, reports have been made of a ghostly figure wandering along the stretch of track where the accident took place. Witnesses have described seeing a man, dressed in a thick coat, stumbling along the railway line, often with one hand over the top of his face, as though he was sheltering his eyes from the elements. The ghost has been observed for as much as a minute at a time, before suddenly disappearing in a flash of light. Interestingly, the figure appears to be fading with time. Early sightings described a totally life-like apparition, whose appearance was indistinguishable from a living human being. More recent sightings, dating from the 1980s and 1990s describe a transparent figure. Although the details remain clear, the ghost has become see-through.

The ghost of Middleton Railway has not received much coverage, despite the fact that the story and corresponding sightings have persisted down the ages. The railway itself is now run by volunteers from the Middleton Railway Trust Ltd. It has become a favoured location for railway enthusiasts from across the globe to visit, yet few realise that this historic location has a much darker past. Whats more, few are aware that Middleton Railway may also have the oldest railway ghost story known to man.

7 Replies to “Ghost on the railway tracks – Leeds”

  1. I saw this ghost in the 1980 s. I was sat on a hill just above a tunnel and Middleton railway when my boyfriend and I saw a tall man, in a thick coat and a top hat walk into the tunnel. He was dressed a bit oddly but appeared a human, I was sure he was just a normal guy. We watched to see him come out of the tunnel he never did. I was having a bet that he had on a top hat and my boyfriend said it was just a hat. We watched both entrances when he did not come out we walked into the tunnel and he was not in their. It was a full moon and you could see everything. It spooked me, I would never go there after dark.

    1. I work at the railway and ive only just read this story i dont think that its just on the tracks i see things out the corner of my eye and hear moaning and groaning where did you see it on the line?

  2. I saw a ghost of a Monk at Kirkstall Abbey he walked across my pathway and watched him for about 30 seconds until he disappeared and wondered if anyone could tell me why he was wearing red garments instead of white

  3. I was on the train yesterday and pulled into Leeds station. I saw a man who looked like he was inspecting the track on all fours, he had an overcoat on and a trilby type hat. He looked very human and clear to see. I never really thought about it till this morning when I thought he was a bit old to be working on the track and if he was he was have a high visibility coat on hard hat etc… It can’t of been just somebody on the track as he was (if real) very visible and he would of been seen

    1. Hi Danielle, thanks for the comment. Leeds does seem to have quite a high number of railway ghosts. I am not sure why that would be. Perhaps something to do with the industrial past? We receive quite a large number of reports of ghosts on the railway tracks in Leeds. I must visit in person sometime soon to check it out myself.

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