That was a chap called Fred (cannot recall his second name). He ended up as Revenue Control Inspector at Leyton. He would happily recall the story to anyone who showed an interest. In 1979 he lived near Ongar station and was at the time the Station Foreman. While he was working there, LT announced the decision to close the line. So Fred concerned about the loss of his Station, cooked up a plan to attract attention to Ongar station.
Fred travelled to Camden and bought some non poisonous Scorpions. He placed them near the headwall end of the platform while no one was looking. Then when passengers, arrived proceeded to make a fuss as if he had discovered a rare species of Essex Scorpions.
Soon the local paper caught the story and decided to run with it as their front page article. Fred was most pleased! The story was then picked up by the BBC who decided to send David Attenborough to Ongar to film them for a segment on the Wildlife On One show. Fred claims that by then the scorpions had died off, so the crew bought their own along and faked the shots for telly.
Despite bringing their own Scorpions the film crew were entirely unaware that they had been duped.
For many years the hoax remained a secret. And I think it still regularly appears when TV shows discuss well orchestrated hoaxes.
Fred retired from LUL in the early 90s. Soon after that Ongar closed.
SCORPION FOUND IN THE ONGAR AREA The European yellow-tailed scorpion, Euscorpius flavicaudis, is found on only rare occasions in Britain. It was first recorded at Sheerness in the l860’s, and has since 5 been located in several sites in southern England. For the first time in April this year a single specimen was found in stables in the Hatfield Heath/Sawbridgeworth area, just north of Ongar. A rather small scorpion, no longer than 5 cm, its body is dark brown and it has pale brown legs and a yellow tail (sting). It shelters in crevices in walls and feeds on insects and other small invertebrates. The sting is mildly dangerous to humans but is unlikely to be fatal. But, if you find one, handle it with care. It is thought that yellow-tailed scorpions migrate to this country aboard ships from continental Europe. Despite the typical British weather, some of the scorpions survive well, emphasising how adaptable these creates can be. With global climate changes they may become more common in the future. The finding of this scorpion must not be confused with past reports of scorpions in and around Ongar Railway Station. Regrettably the story of these scorpions was a hoax! Keith Snow