Haunted pub that used to welcome skiving signalmen

�Next time you order a pint in this time-honoured drinking haunt and feel an unexplained presence near you, you may want to ponder the souls that have previously treaded the floorboards there.

At 140 years old, the Spotted Dog public house near Barking Station on Longbridge Road is full of mysterious tales of haunted cellars and secret tunnels.

The first landlord of the Spotted Dog Hotel, built around 1870, was Edward Maynard.

According to the pub’s records, Mr Maynard was killed by a train at Barking Station, due to his poor hearing – not long after he had altered the rear of the building to fit in a billard room.

In 1885 the pub passed to a Mr Emmerson, before the current owners, a family business called Davy & Co, took over in 1910.

Further alterations to the building were made in 1911, 1915 and 1925.

Legend has it that during one of those alteration works, builders found remnants of what are thought to have been secret tunnels for contraband smugglers.

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Pub manager, Russell Humes, 44, said: “The basement used to be the wine bar and restaurant until four years ago. The word is that there were tunnels that could be leading to Dagenham Dock. That’s all blocked up now, there’s no visible trace.”

Another peculiarity adding to the pub’s mysterious allure are the puzzling sightings of a young girl, which are not necessarily related to the ingestion of drink.

Mr Humes said: “We do believe there are ghosts.

“There’s certainly one little girl that’s been seen in my time by customers and people working here.

“An engineer came to service our alarm system. At 10.30am he came upstairs from the basement and said he was surprised at how big the premises were and could not find the way out.

“But a young girl showed him the way back up. We were closed and could not see anyone downstairs. I told him everybody in the pub at the time was upstairs. That was two years ago.”

‘Not alone’

On another occasion, a little boy who had been waiting for one of the pub’s managers in his office.

Mr Humes said: “When he came back, the lights were off. He asked the boy why he was sitting in the dark. The boy said: ‘a girl came in and turned the lights off.’

“There have been evenings when you could feel that you were not alone, and it’s not paranoia.”

Mr Humes, who moved to Dagenham from Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, in 1992, added: “When you’re from an Irish background, you don’t get worried about things like that.

“You never hear of anybody being harmed. One of our in-jokes is that we have more than one type of spirit on site.”

The pub’s Railway Bar on street level, which houses some artefacts from the railway industry, used to be popular with railway employees such as signalmen.

Mr Humes joked: “They made their way in through the side entrance after work, but some were probably skiving off.”

Maybe others entered the same way after more fateful incidents at Barking Station – and they may not be leaving after last orders.