London Underground’s lost property department is a perennial staple for magazine writers looking for a quirky feature. Time and again, we’ve read about the unlikely sundries handed in at the Baker Street office – from false teeth to surfboards.
One of the more remarkable items in the collection is an urn, containing the ashes of a person unknown. The inscrutable vessel was featured on the Arena Tube special on BBC4 a couple of weeks back. Lost property supervisor Ted Batchelor described his nine year conundrum: whose ashes is he harbouring, and how were they misplaced?
To cut to the chase, a viewer solved the puzzle through the internet and phoning around, and the urn has now been repatriated with its one non-careful owner. Molly Schofield from Lancashire lost a bag containing the urn back in 1998. The ashes are those of her father, and were to have been scattered on the Thames.
The Guardian give a good account of the detective work. And they quote Molly:
We're still deciding what to do with the ashes. My thought is to go back to London and continue with our original scheme at the Thames, possibly as a holiday treat for my granddaughter's birthday in August. I don't think I'll put it in the luggage compartment this time. But my father would have enjoyed the publicity, if nothing else.
So, family reunited. And any hacks turning in wacky lost property stories will have a new flourish to add to a tired formula.