Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year's Eve Ghost of Westminster Bridge

One of the most famous 'ghost' photos of 2014 was one that would come to be called The Parliament Ghost.  It was taken in London on New Year's Eve (31 December 2013) by professional photographer named  Jules Annan.  Across the Thames River are the buildings of Parliament, and to the right of the photograph is Westminster Bridge.

Noted in the foreground is the transparent image of a figure wearing a red coat, jeans, and boots, looking out over the water. While many say this appears to be a young man, I think from the tight jeans, the more shapely figure, and the fur-lined boots that its actually a girl.  Annan, who is associated with the company ConcertPhotography.co.uk, posted the strange image to Youtube, asking for help in finding out what the figure was and the story was subsequently picked up the UK publication, Mirror, where it was noted that Annan was seeking the help of paranormal investigators, including Lee Roberts, owner of Haunted UK Events.
Close up of figure

According to Annan, the photograph was taken with a 24-70 lens handleld camera leaning on a wall.  Further specs include:  ISO 400  APP 22  Speed 25.  Annan claims that this photograph cannot possibly be the result of double exposure OR of a long exposure.  However, much of the paranormal AND photography world disagrees, noting that the way the light streaks down is indicative of a long exposure and a tripod.  It would seem that someone simply wandered into the shot, paused a moment to look out over the river, then walked out of the shot again.  It is a technique often employed in art photography...and its something that happens accidentally quite often.

However, without actually having the original photo from which to extract the EXIF data, it is hard to prove without a doubt that a long exposure is the reason for this photograph.  What we CAN do, however, is take a look at the history and the hauntings behind the Westminster Bridge!

The current Westminster Bridge was opened in 1862.  Although it replaced an earlier bridge that was built around 1750, the history of a crossing at this location goes all the way back to Roman times, when people would ford the river at low tide on that spot.  And, over the years, the bridge has come to take on quite a haunted reputation!  In one story, a phantom barge can be seen coming down the river on misty Autumn mornings.  It will pass under the bridge, but it never does emerge on the other side.

Another tale involves the suicide of a young woman who jumped to her death from a ferry traveling between Greenwich and Westminster.  In 1933, a man named Elliot O'Donnell recorded his brush with the spectral woman.  While traveling on the same ferry one summer, he noticed a young woman wearing a black veil over her face.  Just as the barge was about to go under the Westminster Bridge, the young lady ran and leapt off the boat.  Elliot jumped in after her, but after coming up empty-handed, was pulled back aboard by the other passenger.  The captain later told him that he was the third person to have seen the woman and gone after her.  He went on to further explain that she was a real young woman who took her life on that very boat in the very same spot some time ago.

Photo by Tom Arthur
Interestingly, another ghost has been seen in the vicinity of the bridge on New Year's Eve!  It is believed that if you stand on the bridge on December 31st, as Big Ben strikes the midnight hour, you can look eastward and see a man in a black top hat plunge himself into the icy waters of the Thames.  It is believed that this gentleman is none other than Jack the Ripper, who took his own life in 1888, ended a reign of terror.

Obviously, this apparition, with the modern attire, doesn't appear to be the ghost of either the lady in mourning or the potential Ripper...so given that she IS a ghost, who could she be?  In recent years, there have been several deaths including a homeless pedestrian from Romania who was hit and killed during a collision with a taxi and a bus in late 2012.  A young Russian student was also killed when she was struck by a taxi, but her death didn't occur until May of 2014.  Was this photographer lucky enough to catch a glimpse into the spirit world...or just unlucky enough to catch a glimpse of a pedestrian walking in front of his shot?

Sources:

Mirror article                                                                                                                               
 Haunted London by James Clark

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