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The sweet story of a widow, a train station, and a late husband’s final message

Margaret McCollum

BhamUrbanNewsUK | YouTube | Fair Use

Cerith Gardiner - published on 06/27/22

Margaret McCollum visits her local underground station when she's feeling low for a very beautiful reason.

You may be familiar with the announcement “Mind the Gap” that is often heard on the London Underground. It’s a message most travelers take for granted, but for Dr. Margaret McCollum, it’s helping her grieve her husband Oswald, who died in 2007.

Back in 1950, Oswald recorded the announcement that is used on the underground network. After he died, McCollum, a retired general practitioner, would go to her local train station every day and listen to her husband’s voice.

Sitting on a bench, the widow would hear his familiar voice every few minutes when a new train pulled in to the platform. It helped her grieve and brought some solace.

However, the recording was eventually replaced by an electronic version in 2012. So McCollum went to the London Transport company to see if they could give her a copy of the original recording.

The London underground staff went to a lot of effort to find the original recording. The digitizing process meant all Underground recordings had been placed in archives, and work had to be done to restore the voice, according to Generation 95.

But instead of giving a copy to the widow, the company took it a step further. They were so moved by McCollum’s story they decided to reinstate Oswald’s recording at the station where McCollum can continue to visit every day for a little pick me up.

According to All on the Board, a motivational Instagram account run by two London Underground writers, that is the only station on the Northern Line Underground network that has such a recording. What’s more, for every train entering the station, Oswald’s message is played three times, which must be particularly moving for McCollum.

The fact the Underground went to such lengths to soothe a widow in need shows a human side to a very large organization. And it’s heartwarming that several years after her husband’s passing, his wife is still finding a way to connect with him until they meet again.

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