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Knight Bus Based in Fact?

by Stephanie Kinghorn

You can believe my surprise when, scanning through a book called Mysteries of the Unexplained, I found a story that reminded me most forcibly of one of the more precarious ways to travel in our favorite world: the Knight Bus.

As the story says, in the mid-1930s, a motorist made a report to the local authorities in North Kensington, London, following an accident. He said that he had been turning a corner when he saw a bus tearing toward him. “The lights of the top and bottom deck and the headlights were full on, but I could see no sign of crew or passengers. I yanked my steering wheel hard over, and mounted the pavement (sidewalk), scraping the roadside wall. The bus just vanished.”

He was not the only one to complain of this strange, vanishing bus. Hundreds of motorists complained of being forced off the road by a phantom bus that tore wildly around the corner from St. Mark’s Road into Cambridge Gardens, near the Ladbroke Grove underground station. The motorists described a mysterious red bus that hurtled toward them and then suddenly vanished. Many accidents, even several fatalities, were the result when drivers tried frantically to avoid this bus. Eventually, the road there was straightened, and there have been no more reports of the ghostly red bus.

Sound familiar? The Knight Bus is an emergency vehicle called to a witch or wizard by throwing out the wand arm. While being purple rather than red and having not two but three decks, it is driven by someone who seems not to have quite mastered the steering wheel, which relates to the wild driving pattern of the ghost bus of Ladbroke Grove; also, as Muggles aren’t supposed to be able to see it, the vanishing bit fits in here as well.

Could J. K. Rowling possibly have gotten the inspiration to create the Knight Bus from these strange events that occurred in the ’30’s? Is it just a coincidence? You decide.

Source: Mysteries of the Unexplained, p. 174, Reader’s Digest Association, Inc., 1982; Frank Smyth, Ghosts and Poltergeists, p. 60, Aldus Books Ltd., 1976