66(6)! The Coventry Street Vampire
It is a case obscure, hardly spoken of. Whilst the legend of the Highgate 'vampire' continues to intrigue and be discussed, something just as wicked occurred several decades before, in the West End at Coventry Street.
In 1922 a giant bat-like creature had been seen in the vicinity of West Drayton Church, as I have mentioned before, and some believed it was the vampyric spirit of a creature once said to have murdered and drank the blood of a Harmondsworth woman in the 1890's. Then, on the 16th April 1922 so began a series of attacks on the general public which bore all the marks of a blood-sucking assailant. For a short period, the bustling metropolis of London was on vampire alert.
It was 6am and a local clerk was walking to work, heading down Coventry Street. Suddenly he was accosted from the shadows by an unseen form which bit him in the throat. The man collapsed unconscious to the floor, and awoke in Charing Cross Hospital where he told the surgeons of his grim encounter. His tale seemed too far-fetched to the doctors, they believed he'd been stabbed in the neck. Then, just over two hours later, another attack took place. A second man was rushed to the hospital and had the same encounter to speak of as blood trickled from his throat. He'd been attacked by an invisible predator at exactly the same spot.
As the hospital staff attempted to solve the mystery, during late evening another man was attacked, his throat punctured by an unseen assailant at exactly the same spot – the turning just off Coventry Street. The police could not fathom as to what had happened and the press were quick to lap up the grisly rumours that a vampire-like attacker was on the loose, with the Daily Mail reporting on the sinister encounters. A reporter boldly and yet sarcastically asked the police if a vampire could be on the loose, and the officer replied nervously, "That's all!" and left the conference.
As hysteria rose in the area, one dark rumour circulated that the vampire had in fact been cornered by the police and executed by a vampire hunter who had been especially drafted in. The covert operation ended with the corpse being taken to Highgate Cemetery of all places where it was holed up in a vault, never to be spoken of again.
The story may sound like a piece of horror fiction, but how uncanny that a handful of decades later a bizarre, vampire-like spectre would be seen to haunt and attack within the confines of the gloomy cemetery.
Photo by JoshBerglund19 on flickr.