Dr. Margaret McCollum visits Embankment tube station every day just to hear her late husband’s voice.
We all know the typical chime of ‘mind the gap’; whether you’ve heard it on an early morning commute or drunk on a night tube, it’s easy to tune out.
However, to Margaret, one particular recording of the famous phrase is how she keeps the memory of her late husband alive.
Margaret’s late husband, Oswald Laurence, was an actor whose voice was recorded for the northbound Northern Line announcement in the 1950s.
The couple met in 1992 while he was working for a tour with a cruise company. The pair lived in north London until his death in 2007.
Speaking of the recording, she said, ‘Since he died I would sit and wait for the next train until I heard his voice,’ and explained how the recording helped keep his memory alive.
On November 1, 2012, however, suddenly Oswald ‘wasn’t there’, and so a ‘stunned’ Margaret approached TfL staff to ask what had happened.
I enquired and I was told there was a new digital system and they could not get his voice on it.
After hearing the news, TfL arranged for a CD of the recording to be sent to Margaret – but that’s not where the story ends.
London Underground Director Nigel Holness spoke about how the staff were ‘touched’ by her story and decided to help Margaret keep his memory alive.
We were very touched by her story, so staff tracked down the recording and not only were they able to get a copy of the announcement on CD for her to keep but are also working to restore the announcement at Embankment station.
So, with a lot of hard work from the staff searching archives and restoring the tapes, on New Years Day, Margaret heard her husband once again.
According to @allontheboard, the workers made a ‘rule’ with Margaret to honour her husband:
In his honour and for Margaret, a rule is in place that we let his voice play 3 times for every train before we make our additional announcements.
It’s wonderful hearing his voice there and wonderful to know it makes such a difference to her.
And that is why, if you go down to the northbound Northern Line service from Embankment, you will hear a completely different – but familiar voice – chime, ‘Mind the gap.’
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677
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