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Thread: The Man In The Cylinder

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    Member birdseye's Avatar
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    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?

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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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    Senior Member naked lilac's Avatar
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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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    Re-member Ged's Avatar
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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.
    www.inacityliving.piczo.com/

    Updated weekly with old and new pics.

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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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    Member birdseye's Avatar
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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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    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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    Senior Member johnreppion's Avatar
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    never heard this before, very interesting.

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