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.
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?