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Thread: The Man In The Cylinder

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    Default The Man In The Cylinder

    I don’t know if this case has ever been discussed on the board, my apologies if it already has. I read the tale in a book by Richard Whittington-Egan, which I think was called “Liverpool Colonnade” but which I haven’t seen since the mid-sixties.

    It referred to a cylinder, which was found near the junction of Great Homer Street and Kirkdale Road, although my memory is a bit hazy on this. The site had been bombed and burned out during the blitz and when the area was cleared after the war, the cylinder, which was about seven feet long and two feet in diameter, was dislodged from the ruins of one of the buildings which had stood there and left on the waste ground where it lay for a year or so. While some children were playing round it one day, one of them noticed a mummified human foot poking out of one end and fetched the police. It was naturally assumed that the body inside must have been a casualty of the blitz and the cylinder was taken to the city mortuary to be opened. When it was, it caused something of a stir. The body inside was not a casualty of the 1940s but was that of a man dressed in the fashion of the late Victorian period and he had been dead for about seventy years. Far from being in the cylinder by accident, he was actually lying on a rough bed with a pillow at his head. The ends of the cylinder had been hammered shut from outside.


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    Some documentation was found on him, with letters dated from the 1870s and a forensic scientist was able to decipher his name and address from what he found. I can’t remember the name but do remember he was a tallow dealer in the city and lived in Clifton Road. A search through old company records also revealed that he had been involved in bankruptcy proceedings in the 1870s and there was some record of the fact that he was missing. I can’t remember any more than that and have never been able to find the story again. I have been fascinated by this tale ever since I read it but have never been able to find out anything more than was in the book. How on earth did the man get into the cylinder and why? Who hammered the ends shut? A real mystery. Has anyone else ever come across this story or found out anything more on it?

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    Still alive snappel's Avatar
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    I'm sure Tom Slemen wrote about it once, but didn't know any more than you do.

    It's a strange story, but a plausible one. Maybe the guy wanted to fake his own death? Quite how he intended to stay alive, who knows?

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    Senior Member SteH's Avatar
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    I'm sure this must have been discussed here but I've just looked through the folklore/oddities section and done some searches and found nothing. I think you've covered it Birdseye, there hasnt been anything published on it except by Tom Slemen, who just re-hashed what Whittington Egan wrote

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    Love a mystery and also an interesting story... Had to read it twice.. Hemmmmm...Okay.. let me play Sherlock Holmes a bit.. LOL..
    First:
    Seems to me, he had someone that cared enough for him to see his request carried through ..Maybe some workers that he once befriended..from his soap or Tallow making company.. ? Bankrupted or not, he probably was a likeable man.. and being down and out.. doesn't mean someone didn't care... obviously they did...to send him off and with identity..

    Since he was a Tallow dealer..and tallow was extracted by melting the meats of animals for candles, etc.. maybe this cylinder was a troth for the animals that were slaughtered for their fat..??? Maybe, he knew it would preserve his body the wax that melted around the cylinder mummifying him.... ?? A cylinder..being able to withstand the climates and distruction.. Metal...

    All, of course, speculation ....

    The cylinder being lodged in the old building..well, Maybe, it was going to its last burial place.. and got lost in the shovel of the blitz.. and it was a holding area ..Anyway.. Those our my Sherlock Holmes thoughts.. anyone else.....

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    I have this story in his (RWE) Liverpool tales and curiosities book. I'll try and scan it to here. The site became a childrens playground at the foot of Marwood Tower where Greaty joins Kirkdale road at a point. The site now houses a ships buoy and anchor.
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    Senior Member verdi's Avatar
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    I had Liverpool Colonade, and loads of other books on Liverpool folklore and tales, ut whatever happened to them is a book itself. You are right this story was in it. Now, I recall the Echo doing a series on a lot of these stories, and they came to a good conclusion on this one. If my memory serves me, the end was' nt hammered over, but was done due to bomb damage or during the demolition. You were right they had a pathologist look at the body, no visable cause of death. They did establish it was the man who went bancrupt, I can't recall the name! No doubt the Echo may be able to help in their archives!

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    Senior Member lindylou's Avatar
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    Birdseye, I can't recall anyone talking about it here, but I have heard this tale before.
    it is fascinating isn't it. Clifton rd. I presume that will be the Clifton rd in Tuebrook.

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    Yes, thats the one.

    I've puzzled over this for years now and considered the possibility that the cylinder was damaged in some way, either by the bombing or by the demolition machine, to close it at both ends - but that opens up another riddle. If it was damaged, it would have been a curious impact which damaged it at both ends but not in the middle. The account in the RWE book mentions children rolling it about if I remember rightly, so it must have retained it's round shape. But even if that was correct and it was damaged in the way mentioned, it means that the cylinder would have been open sufficiently to see inside while it was in the house it came from. Given that it lay there for around seventy years, surely some tenant would have been curious and looked inside. If not, it would mean that it was concealed over the years it was there and that another person would have had to be involved in it's concealment, perhaps behind a false wall in the cellar.

    Whover concealed the cylinder when the body was inside may well have been responsible for the man's death but if he was dead when he was placed inside, why the rough bedding and the pillow? It seems a lot of trouble to go to to hide a body at a time when police detection of murder was in it's infancy. Or the man may have committed suicide because of his financial difficulties. If so, why would anyone wish to conceal his death by hiding his body?

    It really is a fascinating puzzle, made even more so by the fact that it is unlikely to ever be solved.

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    DaisyChains
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    Quote Originally Posted by birdseye View Post
    Yes, thats the one.

    I've puzzled over this for years now and considered the possibility that the cylinder was damaged in some way, either by the bombing or by the demolition machine, to close it at both ends - but that opens up another riddle. If it was damaged, it would have been a curious impact which damaged it at both ends but not in the middle. The account in the RWE book mentions children rolling it about if I remember rightly, so it must have retained it's round shape. But even if that was correct and it was damaged in the way mentioned, it means that the cylinder would have been open sufficiently to see inside while it was in the house it came from. Given that it lay there for around seventy years, surely some tenant would have been curious and looked inside. If not, it would mean that it was concealed over the years it was there and that another person would have had to be involved in it's concealment, perhaps behind a false wall in the cellar.

    Whover concealed the cylinder when the body was inside may well have been responsible for the man's death but if he was dead when he was placed inside, why the rough bedding and the pillow? It seems a lot of trouble to go to to hide a body at a time when police detection of murder was in it's infancy. Or the man may have committed suicide because of his financial difficulties. If so, why would anyone wish to conceal his death by hiding his body?

    It really is a fascinating puzzle, made even more so by the fact that it is unlikely to ever be solved.
    Good old RWE does offer a solution in that he thinks the man in the cylinder crawled inside to avoid debtors. I think he says his name is Thomas Creegan??
    (Going on memory!)

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    never heard this before, very interesting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by researchwriter View Post
    never heard this before, very interesting.
    Get this man some Whittington-Egan books poste haste!! hehe

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    Quote Originally Posted by DaisyChains View Post
    Get this man some Whittington-Egan books poste haste!! hehe
    I do have a couple and I've read a few more from the library in the past. He was (is?) certainly a gifted story teller but some of his sources can be a bit elusive in my experience.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ged View Post
    I have this story in his (RWE) Liverpool tales and curiosities book.
    Yep i read this one a long time back.

    Slemen did write about it, but you know after long research( oh yeah, not just copied like the others then )

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    Quote Originally Posted by researchwriter View Post
    I do have a couple and I've read a few more from the library in the past. He was (is?) certainly a gifted story teller but some of his sources can be a bit elusive in my experience.
    I'm sorry, you can say anybody is a bit elusive but Whittington Egan!
    This man is responsible for so many people's passion for Liverpool local history.

    I have corresponded with him and he comes from a well documented (and well to do) family, with connections in the Philharmonic orchestra, Maybrick's, and had many first hand meetings with alot of the legends that make Liverpool history so great.
    He even has his own little Black Museum! (wow!)

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    Quote Originally Posted by researchwriter View Post
    I do have a couple and I've read a few more from the library in the past. He was (is?) certainly a gifted story teller but some of his sources can be a bit elusive in my experience.
    Hello researchwriter

    I am pleased to tell you that Richard Whittington-Egan is still alive and living in Worcestershire with his wife, Molly, also a writer. Richard Whittington-Egan's The Quest for Jack the Ripper was first announced to be imminent in 1998 but has yet to appear from Rupert Books. I understand the book has grown to immense proportions and if and when it finally appears it should be a compendium that Ripperologists will wish to own as a definitive book on the topic.

    All the best

    Chris
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    Default Cylinder of Death

    By Richard Whittington-Egan.

    The discovery: Friday 13th July 1945.
    The location: The corner of Fulford street and Great Homer Street.
    Date of death - circa July 4th 1885.
    Identified as: (probably) Thomas Cregeen Williams. (paperwork in pocket)
    Resided at: 29 Clifton Road, Anfield.
    Married to: Elizabeth Lea (died aged 42 - buried at Anfield Cemetery)
    Place of work: Owned T.C. Williams & Co. paintworks at 18-20 Leeds st.
    Cause of death: Unknown.
    Reason for death: Possible suicide as he was being inspected by accountants.
    OR/: Possible accident as the result of crawling in there to sleep.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaisyChains View Post
    I'm sorry, you can say anybody is a bit elusive but Whittington Egan!
    This man is responsible for so many people's passion for Liverpool local history.

    I have corresponded with him and he comes from a well documented (and well to do) family, with connections in the Philharmonic orchestra, Maybrick's, and had many first hand meetings with alot of the legends that make Liverpool history so great.
    He even has his own little Black Museum! (wow!)
    Here is the Wikipedia entry on RWE:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Whittington-Egan
    Christopher T. George
    Editor, Ripperologist
    Editor, Loch Raven Review
    http://christophertgeorge.blogspot.com/
    Chris on Flickr and on MySpace

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    DaisyChains
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ged View Post
    By Richard Whittington-Egan.

    The discovery: Friday 13th July 1945.
    The location: The corner of Fulford street and Great Homer Street.
    Date of death - circa July 4th 1885.
    Identified as: (probably) Thomas Cregeen Williams. (paperwork in pocket)
    Resided at: 29 Clifton Road, Anfield.
    Married to: Elizabeth Lea (died aged 42 - buried at Anfield Cemetery)
    Place of work: Owned T.C. Williams & Co. paintworks at 18-20 Leeds st.
    Cause of death: Unknown.
    Reason for death: Possible suicide as he was being inspected by accountants.
    OR/: Possible accident as the result of crawling in there to sleep.
    Thanks Ged.

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    In this account anyway he names names from the kid who found the cylinder whilst playing hide and seek with his mates (Tommy Lawless) to the P.C. who was on patrol in the area (Robert Baillie) to the coroners deputy (Dr. Charles Vincent Harrison) to foresnsics expert (Dr J.B. Firth) to the coroner himself (Dr. G.C. Mort). There are other names including the Inspector (later chief inspector), the assistant chief constable, the dead suspects name and his wife, child (Thomas Lea Cregreen Williams - born circa Nov 1858 - has he any exisiting relatives?) and others including his place of work and address- all of which could be checked out i'm sure.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaisyChains View Post
    I'm sorry, you can say anybody is a bit elusive but Whittington Egan!
    This man is responsible for so many people's passion for Liverpool local history.

    I have corresponded with him and he comes from a well documented (and well to do) family, with connections in the Philharmonic orchestra, Maybrick's, and had many first hand meetings with alot of the legends that make Liverpool history so great.
    He even has his own little Black Museum! (wow!)
    I'm very happy to learn that Mr. Whittington Egan is alive and well and must apologise if my earlier post sounded like a criticism of his work. I quite agree that he is a hugely important figure, highly influential in his field and an excellent writer.

    The elusiveness or sources I was referring to is something that has cropped up recently during my researching a piece on Spring Heeled Jack where I came across some data from one of Mr. Whittington Egan's publications which didn't quite fit. On the whole I think he treats the supernatural accounts which he writes about much more as ghost stories and a bit less seriously than his historical stuff. That said, he's a good writer and can get away with it; he makes it a pleasure to read. However, from the point of view of myself researching a ghost book, some of the data is slightly lacking. Not really a criticism at all, just me moaning about me book being hard really. Sorry.

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    You sound really into making your ghost book being one of fact and not subjectiveness, conjecture or hearsay and folklore which is refreshing and commendable given that nearly all of the rest are just that. Maybe hitting the brick walls that you obviously are will greater awareness to all that even with todays technology, Ghosts are yet to be a proven phenomenon and is why the best of the rest seems so far fetched and made up. Good luck in any case.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ged View Post
    You sound really into making your ghost book being one of fact and not subjectiveness, conjecture or hearsay and folklore which is refreshing and commendable given that nearly all of the rest are just that. Maybe hitting the brick walls that you obviously are will greater awareness to all that even with todays technology, Ghosts are yet to be a proven phenomenon and is why the best of the rest seems so far fetched and made up. Good luck in any case.
    Cheers Ged. A lot of what I'm writing about comes from people's personal accounts and as such there's still a fair bit of unsubstantiated stuff in there. However, I'm doing my best to at least try to look into the history of the places and people involved. If I can't find anything then I'll just be honest and say "I spent some time in the records office researching X but could come up with no likely candidates for X", or similar. I love a good ghost story as much as the next man but if I used unsubstantiated stories without at least attempting to look into them a little I'd feel like I may as well just make it all up anyway. And if I did that, you lot would be the first to pull me up on it.

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    Senior Member ChrisGeorge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by researchwriter View Post
    I'm very happy to learn that Mr. Whittington Egan is alive and well and must apologise if my earlier post sounded like a criticism of his work. I quite agree that he is a hugely important figure, highly influential in his field and an excellent writer.

    The elusiveness or sources I was referring to is something that has cropped up recently during my researching a piece on Spring Heeled Jack where I came across some data from one of Mr. Whittington Egan's publications which didn't quite fit. On the whole I think he treats the supernatural accounts which he writes about much more as ghost stories and a bit less seriously than his historical stuff. That said, he's a good writer and can get away with it; he makes it a pleasure to read. However, from the point of view of myself researching a ghost book, some of the data is slightly lacking. Not really a criticism at all, just me moaning about me book being hard really. Sorry.
    Hi researchwriter

    As noted in the Wikipedia entry on Mr Whittington-Egan, he was for some thirty years or so a Fleet Street journalist. I would suggest that in that case, his writing to some extent in terms of features and even his books were influenced by the need to tell a good and enthralling story. So yes I should say that he probably accepted the ghost stories at face value because he knew they would interest his readers. In his crime writing, such as his book on American actor Philip Yale Drew, accused of the murder of a Reading tobacconist, he tends to be much more careful of his facts and his analysis thereof.

    All the best

    Chris
    Christopher T. George
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    http://christophertgeorge.blogspot.com/
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    After the body was extracted from the container by a Dutch bloke with clogs and a funny hat on there was a hollow cylinder and a silly hollander.
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    Updated weekly with old and new pics.

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    Default The Man in the cylinder

    Further information on this< I once had a book called. MURDER MYSTERY and Mayhem (tales of old liverpool), it was full of old liverpool stories about famous murders, Spring Heeled Jack, and other stories, I am told it is still available.

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    Hello frankpol and welcome. That is the Richard Whittington-Egan book referred to in the earlier posts above.
    www.inacityliving.piczo.com/

    Updated weekly with old and new pics.

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    Quote Originally Posted by frankpol View Post
    Further information on this< I once had a book called. MURDER MYSTERY and Mayhem (tales of old liverpool), it was full of old liverpool stories about famous murders, Spring Heeled Jack, and other stories, I am told it is still available.
    As Ged says these stories are by Richard Whittington-Egan. Murder, Mystery, and Mayhem is one of a series of pamphlets which collects tales drawn from Mr. Whittington-Egan's books originally published in the 1950's. The pamphlet series has been published at least twice to my knowledge.

    Chris
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    Hi

    I can remember my father telling me about this, he was a teenager during the war and can remember it being in the newspapers.

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    Memories... all alone in the moonlight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisGeorge View Post
    As Ged says these stories are by Richard Whittington-Egan. Murder, Mystery, and Mayhem is one of a series of pamphlets which collects tales drawn from Mr. Whittington-Egan's books originally published in the 1950's. The pamphlet series has been published at least twice to my knowledge.

    Chris
    Seems most of these accounts are traceable back to Richard W-E. Anyone got any sources that pre-date his book?

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