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Giant rats and ghost stations: The Ham&High’s top 10 most read web stories 2013

12:00 01 January 2014

South Park creators Trey Parker (left) and Matt Stone inspired the Monty Python reunion, Terry Jones told the Ham&High in November. Picture: PA Archive/Jonathan Brady.

South Park creators Trey Parker (left) and Matt Stone inspired the Monty Python reunion, Terry Jones told the Ham&High in November. Picture: PA Archive/Jonathan Brady.

PA Archive/Press Association Images

From Monty Python’s reunion to a 7 ft-reticulated python that haunted Hampstead Heath Ladies’ Ponds, life has been busy in Hampstead and Highgate over the past year. Enjoy the Ham&High’s top 10 most read stories of 2013.

South Kentish Town Underground station is one of north London's long forgotten 'ghost stations'. Picture: London Transport MuseumSouth Kentish Town Underground station is one of north London's long forgotten 'ghost stations'. Picture: London Transport Museum

1. EXCLUSIVE: South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone brought Monty Python back together

The original British comedy troupe, Monty Python, was reunited thanks to American comedy duo Matt Stone and Trey Parker, revealed member Terry Jones, 71, in November.

The pair, who also created smash-hit musical The Book of Mormon, “approached us and suggested we should get together and do something,” said Highgate resident Mr Jones.

And so the Python’s plan to reunite on stage for the first time in 30 years was born.

Jenny Anderson was one of many Hampstead residents left unhappy when Tesco Express reduced organic produce at its branch in Heath Street. Picture: Nigel SuttonJenny Anderson was one of many Hampstead residents left unhappy when Tesco Express reduced organic produce at its branch in Heath Street. Picture: Nigel Sutton

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2. The secret history of north London’s ‘ghost’ Tube stations

The 150th anniversary of the London Underground was as much a celebration of the old as it was of the new in January this year – and among the relics of the Tube’s past are a number of local forgotten ‘ghost’ stations.

Carey Miller with Adolf the tortoise, who finally come out of hibernation in April. Picture: Polly HancockCarey Miller with Adolf the tortoise, who finally come out of hibernation in April. Picture: Polly Hancock

They may be invisible to most busy commuters but the long-abandoned South Kentish Town, North End, York Road and Marlborough Road stations, have some fascinating stories to tell…

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3. Hampstead shoppers slam Tesco after organic porridge oats disappear from store

A goods train derailed near Camden Road London Overground Station in the early hours of the morning in October. Picture: Network RailA goods train derailed near Camden Road London Overground Station in the early hours of the morning in October. Picture: Network Rail

Residents slated the supermarket for cutting organic food - including the hearty porridge oat – and replacing it with junk food in October.

Tesco Express in Heath Street - Hampstead Village’s only major supermarket - put fizzy drinks and ready-made sandwiches centre stage, hiding away what little organic food was on offer.

Read the full story here

It was announced in February that Kevin Spacey would be a visiting lecturer at Regent's CollegeIt was announced in February that Kevin Spacey would be a visiting lecturer at Regent's College

4. Highgate tortoise who defied Hitler comes back from the dead

A 72-year-old tortoise, named Adolf in honour of his surviving a Nazi bomb dropped on Woodside Avenue, Highgate, in 1942, was thought to have met his maker when he was caught outside in the snow in April. It turned out he was just hibernating.

This is the second close shave for Adolf, whose owner took a chunk out of his shell and set him on fire accidently, when Adolf was asleep beneath a bonfire.

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Swimmers were unperturbed by the discovery of this 7ft python near the Hampstead Heath bathing ponds in June. Picture: City of London CorporationSwimmers were unperturbed by the discovery of this 7ft python near the Hampstead Heath bathing ponds in June. Picture: City of London Corporation

5. Days of disruption after train derails at Camden Road Station

A derailed freight train at Camden Road Station led to days of agony for commuters in October.

A carriage came off the rails and a container fell off the train at 3am, causing serious damage to overhead power lines but no injuries.

Hampstead Garden Suburb man Simon Sherrard told the Old Bailey he believed the Alpha 6 device had located Madeleine McCannHampstead Garden Suburb man Simon Sherrard told the Old Bailey he believed the Alpha 6 device had located Madeleine McCann

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6. Meet your new lecturer, students – Kevin Spacey comes to Regent’s College

Hollywood actor Kevin Spacey has been imparting his wisdom to aspiring thespians at Regent’s College since February.

Adrian Whitaker holding the rat he caught and killed in MayAdrian Whitaker holding the rat he caught and killed in May

The students lucked out after Mr Spacey’s charitable foundation partnered with the college to offer scholarships for its Acting and Global Theatre course.

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7. Python found lurking by ladies swimming ponds on Hampstead Heath

Harres Yakubi and Rachel Horigan were refused entry to Israel by border control at Ben Gurion Airport in November. Picture: Polly Hancock.Harres Yakubi and Rachel Horigan were refused entry to Israel by border control at Ben Gurion Airport in November. Picture: Polly Hancock.

A 7ft python was discovered lurking in the undergrowth near Kenwood Ladies’ Pond by a swimmer in June, after legions of ladies hadn’t batted an eyelid at the dead snake’s carcass.

The world’s longest breed of snake, and an excellent swimmer, was buried in woodland after no one claimed it for a pet.

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8. Fake bomb detectors located Madeleine McCann, Hampstead Garden Suburb man tells Old Bailey

A Hampstead Garden Suburb salesman told the Old Bailey in June that he believed a phony bomb detector device was able to “triangulate” Madeleine McCann’s location by walking in three metre circles in London.

He used a photograph of her to programme the Alpha 6, which he said indicated that she was “in Ireland or somewhere in the middle or northern Europe”. Simon Sherrard, 50, of Hill Rise, was subsequently cleared of fraud.

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9. Giant rat discovered under Highgate dishwasher as bins overflow onto streets

Piped piper of Haringey? Adrian Whitaker and his wife were horrified to find a giant rat under their dishwasher after they heard the snap of a tiny £1 mouse trap in May.

The dazed rodent’s body measured the length of 6ft 5in-tall Mr Whitaker’s forearm.

The couple think the rat was a result of overflowing bins after the council changed to fortnightly waste collections.

Read the full story here

10. Camden school friends interrogated and imprisoned on volunteer trip to Israel

Two former students of Camden School for Girls were interrogated for five hours and thrown into a cell by Israeli police after stepping off the plane to volunteer in November.

Their laptops, mobile phones and suitcases were trawled, before they were locked in cells for almost 12 hours without any sustenance.

The friends were then marched onto a plane and deported back to Britain.

Read the full story here

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