The Body In The Cylinder (Liverpool; 1945)

Souleater

Devoted Cultist
Joined
Jan 10, 2021
Messages
193
Reaction score
298
Points
63
The original news stories don't mention the diaries were indecipherable because they were in code. The implication is that they were unreadable because they were embedded within / infused by the body's decomposition products (adipocere), and some of them weren't in readable condition once extracted from that waxy material.

Edit to Add: The involvement of adipocere comes from the RootsWeb thread, where member Purlin states that info came from book extracts a cousin had sent. Unfortunately, Purlin wasn't advised as to the identity of the book from which they came.
Adipocere being wax would be a problem with paper, how ever the coroner seemed happy it was TCW and who am i to argue
 

EnolaGaia

I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...
Staff member
Joined
Jul 19, 2004
Messages
20,154
Reaction score
27,751
Points
309
Location
Out of Bounds
Some additional points ...

(1) I haven't seen any indication of how closely or widely separated the locations of TCW's known residence(s), his place of business, and the site where the cylinder ended up may have been. If there were any implicit significance to these locations' distribution it isn't mentioned in the news articles or inquest reports.

(2) There's mention of a 'brooch' being found within the cylinder. This brooch isn't described anywhere.

(3) The Creative History blog account cited in the OP is the only text I've found that claims the body was, or could have been, curled up in a fetal position. The news stories and reports on the inquest consistently indicate the body had been lying in stretched out in repose (i.e., as if for sleeping).
The cylinder was cut open by an oxy-acetylene burner, and disclosed the decomposed remains of a body, fully clothed and lying full length on some sacking. At the head was a brick wrapped in similar sacking, giving the appearance of a pillow.
Evening Express: 13 July 1945
... the position of the bones suggested the man was lying at full stretch with his head pillowed on a brick when he died.
Liverpool Daily Post: 20 August 1945
The body had been lying on the sacking not in it.
Evening Express: 31 August 1945
 

Souleater

Devoted Cultist
Joined
Jan 10, 2021
Messages
193
Reaction score
298
Points
63
Some additional points ...

(1) I haven't seen any indication of how closely or widely separated the locations of TCW's known residence(s), his place of business, and the site where the cylinder ended up may have been. If there were any implicit significance to these locations' distribution it isn't mentioned in the news articles or inquest reports.

(2) There's mention of a 'brooch' being found within the cylinder. This brooch isn't described anywhere.

(3) The Creative History blog account cited in the OP is the only text I've found that claims the body was, or could have been, curled up in a fetal position. The news stories and reports on the inquest consistently indicate the body had been lying in stretched out in repose (i.e., as if for sleeping).

Evening Express: 13 July 1945

Liverpool Daily Post: 20 August 1945

Evening Express: 31 August 1945
And where is the missing jaw!!!
 

EnolaGaia

I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...
Staff member
Joined
Jul 19, 2004
Messages
20,154
Reaction score
27,751
Points
309
Location
Out of Bounds
And where is the missing jaw!!!
The available documentation is surprisingly vague about the damage to the skull area. The Creative History blog version claims the lower left part of the jaw bone is missing (not the entire jaw bone). The contemporary news / inquest reports mention only that "the left base of the skull was missing", without any specific allusion to the jaw. This latter version is more consistent with the statement:

Dr Charles Victor HARRISON, senior lecturer in pathology at Liverpool University, said the cranium was broken in the region of the left middle ear, but there was no reason to think it had been caused by violence.
Evening Express: 19 July 1945
 

Souleater

Devoted Cultist
Joined
Jan 10, 2021
Messages
193
Reaction score
298
Points
63
The available documentation is surprisingly vague about the damage to the skull area. The Creative History blog version claims the lower left part of the jaw bone is missing (not the entire jaw bone). The contemporary news / inquest reports mention only that "the left base of the skull was missing", without any specific allusion to the jaw. This latter version is more consistent with the statement:


Evening Express: 19 July 1945
You have to take into consideration the cylinder was rolled down streets, spun around and generally mistreated in the weeks after it was found
 

EnolaGaia

I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...
Staff member
Joined
Jul 19, 2004
Messages
20,154
Reaction score
27,751
Points
309
Location
Out of Bounds
You have to take into consideration the cylinder was rolled down streets, spun around and generally mistreated in the weeks after it was found
Yep ... It's anybody's guess how many times the cylinder was moved after the body was inside. As I understand it, the cylinder was lying loose beneath debris as of 1945.

One of the accounts (I forget which ... ) mentioned the cylinder had been somewhat tilted with the open / crushed end downward prior to the kids rolling it to the place where they discovered the body inside. I suppose there's a possibility any missing skull piece(s) could have simply slid out the open end.
 

Souleater

Devoted Cultist
Joined
Jan 10, 2021
Messages
193
Reaction score
298
Points
63
Yep ... It's anybody's guess how many times the cylinder was moved after the body was inside. As I understand it, the cylinder was lying loose beneath debris as of 1945.

One of the accounts (I forget which ... ) mentioned the cylinder had been somewhat tilted with the open / crushed end downward prior to the kids rolling it to the place where they discovered the body inside. I suppose there's a possibility any missing skull piece(s) could have simply slid out the open end.
And the position/dislocation of the remains more than likely was affected
 

EnolaGaia

I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...
Staff member
Joined
Jul 19, 2004
Messages
20,154
Reaction score
27,751
Points
309
Location
Out of Bounds
And the position/dislocation of the remains more than likely was affected
Yes, though I'm not sure movement / jostling would account for the isolated claim the body was found in a curled-up position. The most numerous descriptions seem to indicate the skeleton / corpse remained stretched out (e.g., supine).

The cylinder was only 19 or 20 inches in diameter (accounts vary), so there wasn't a lot of room for juggling the sksleton.
 

Souleater

Devoted Cultist
Joined
Jan 10, 2021
Messages
193
Reaction score
298
Points
63
Yes, though I'm not sure movement / jostling would account for the isolated claim the body was found in a curled-up position. The most numerous descriptions seem to indicate the skeleton / corpse remained stretched out (e.g., supine).

The cylinder was only 19 or 20 inches in diameter (accounts vary), so there wasn't a lot of room for juggling the sksleton.
If the cylinder was stood on end then it is believable that a lot of the skeletal remains could end up at one end or the other
 

EnolaGaia

I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...
Staff member
Joined
Jul 19, 2004
Messages
20,154
Reaction score
27,751
Points
309
Location
Out of Bounds
If the cylinder was stood on end then it is believable that a lot of the skeletal remains could end up at one end or the other
Certainly - depending on the extent to which the remains were adhering to the cylinder's interior, 'glued' in place by adipocere.
:gobs:
 

Souleater

Devoted Cultist
Joined
Jan 10, 2021
Messages
193
Reaction score
298
Points
63
Certainly - depending on the extent to which the remains were adhering to the cylinder's interior, 'glued' in place by adipocere.
:gobs:
Indeed, but things like skulls are easily detatched and tend to roll arould a bit
 

Souleater

Devoted Cultist
Joined
Jan 10, 2021
Messages
193
Reaction score
298
Points
63
Some additional points ...

(1) I haven't seen any indication of how closely or widely separated the locations of TCW's known residence(s), his place of business, and the site where the cylinder ended up may have been. If there were any implicit significance to these locations' distribution it isn't mentioned in the news articles or inquest reports.

(2) There's mention of a 'brooch' being found within the cylinder. This brooch isn't described anywhere.

(3) The Creative History blog account cited in the OP is the only text I've found that claims the body was, or could have been, curled up in a fetal position. The news stories and reports on the inquest consistently indicate the body had been lying in stretched out in repose (i.e., as if for sleeping).

Evening Express: 13 July 1945

Liverpool Daily Post: 20 August 1945

Evening Express: 31 August 1945
I just found this link which has details of his address and the location of the cylinder when it was found
https://www.liverpoolpicturebook.com/2013/03/TheManInTheCylinder.html?m=1
 

Souleater

Devoted Cultist
Joined
Jan 10, 2021
Messages
193
Reaction score
298
Points
63
Some additional points ...

(1) I haven't seen any indication of how closely or widely separated the locations of TCW's known residence(s), his place of business, and the site where the cylinder ended up may have been. If there were any implicit significance to these locations' distribution it isn't mentioned in the news articles or inquest reports.

(2) There's mention of a 'brooch' being found within the cylinder. This brooch isn't described anywhere.

(3) The Creative History blog account cited in the OP is the only text I've found that claims the body was, or could have been, curled up in a fetal position. The news stories and reports on the inquest consistently indicate the body had been lying in stretched out in repose (i.e., as if for sleeping).

Evening Express: 13 July 1945

Liverpool Daily Post: 20 August 1945

Evening Express: 31 August 1945
I looked on google and got a rough ideaof the distance from the two locations, strangely i could find no evidence of a Fulford Street, maybe its not there any more
Screenshot_20210113-081921~2.jpg
 

Spookdaddy

Cuckoo
Joined
May 24, 2006
Messages
6,794
Reaction score
8,080
Points
294
Location
Midwich

Souleater

Devoted Cultist
Joined
Jan 10, 2021
Messages
193
Reaction score
298
Points
63
Some additional points ...

(1) I haven't seen any indication of how closely or widely separated the locations of TCW's known residence(s), his place of business, and the site where the cylinder ended up may have been. If there were any implicit significance to these locations' distribution it isn't mentioned in the news articles or inquest reports.

(2) There's mention of a 'brooch' being found within the cylinder. This brooch isn't described anywhere.

(3) The Creative History blog account cited in the OP is the only text I've found that claims the body was, or could have been, curled up in a fetal position. The news stories and reports on the inquest consistently indicate the body had been lying in stretched out in repose (i.e., as if for sleeping).

Evening Express: 13 July 1945

Liverpool Daily Post: 20 August 1945

Evening Express: 31 August 1945
Here are a couple more maps with distances from 1) last know address, according to the bankruptcy paper work and 2) the buisness address accordind to the same, to the lication the cylinder was found
1)
Screenshot_20210113-084443.jpg

2)
Screenshot_20210113-084528.jpg

The place of business could easily have been where the cylinder was unearthed by the army bulldozer as it it concievable the cylinder made its way through the actions of small children to its final place of discovery
 

catseye

Old lady trouser-smell
Joined
Feb 1, 2010
Messages
1,856
Reaction score
6,060
Points
219
Location
York
As the end of the cylinder was open (until run over by machinery), there's the possibility that animals could have dragged away some detached parts of bone that were small enough to get through the gap. Rats, perhaps. Might account for the missing part of the jaw.
 

Souleater

Devoted Cultist
Joined
Jan 10, 2021
Messages
193
Reaction score
298
Points
63
As the end of the cylinder was open (until run over by machinery), there's the possibility that animals could have dragged away some detached parts of bone that were small enough to get through the gap. Rats, perhaps. Might account for the missing part of the jaw.
It is steange niw you mention predation, if we take in the facts, 1) the cylinder was (according to the report) open one end until crushed shut by the bulldozer in 1040's, suggestung it was open for 50+ years, there is nothing in the forensic report about any sign of animal predation, thatin itself is odd
 

catseye

Old lady trouser-smell
Joined
Feb 1, 2010
Messages
1,856
Reaction score
6,060
Points
219
Location
York
I'm a little bit worried about how they launched an inquest to determine whether it was TCW, but seemed to simply confirm their own bias, with all the conjecture about what 'might' have happened. The only proof as to date of death is dated diaries (which could have been years old when sealed into the cylinder, perhaps they had been hidden in there previously and the body is nothing to do with them?).

There seems to be a huge amount of confirmation bias going on with this...all on the strength of a receipt from a company? Why would TCW hold a receipt from his own company (which had gone out of business)?

So many questions about this case, but so many conclusions seem to have rather been 'jumped to' by the Coroner. It would be lovely to see the case reopened and this man given back his identity.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

EnolaGaia

I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...
Staff member
Joined
Jul 19, 2004
Messages
20,154
Reaction score
27,751
Points
309
Location
Out of Bounds
... strangely i could find no evidence of a Fulford Street, maybe its not there any more ...
According to the caption for the last (1966) photo on the liverpoolpicturebook webpage the children's playground in the picture was "...
built over Fulford Street."
 

Souleater

Devoted Cultist
Joined
Jan 10, 2021
Messages
193
Reaction score
298
Points
63
According to the caption for the last (1966) photo on the liverpoolpicturebook webpage the children's playground in the picture was "...
built over Fulford Street."
That explains why its not on google maps
 

Spookdaddy

Cuckoo
Joined
May 24, 2006
Messages
6,794
Reaction score
8,080
Points
294
Location
Midwich
I'd really like to know more about the cylinder itself; I think it might have as much of a tale to tell as the body, and it's a shame that there aren't more and better photographs.

Is there any non-vague explanation as to what it might have been, and why it would have been in that location?

Maps of the area at the time of T C Williams' disappearance suggest that the area consisted of dense terraced housing, rather than industrial units (see the link in Souleater's post #43). But the 1851 map (below) shows a less densely developed area which might be more likely to contain industrial works (the sand pit might also suggest some sort of industrial use in the locality). There is also what appears to undeveloped space around where the Methodist Chapel would later stand, and immediately north of it - the area where the cylinder is said to have been found. I wonder if there's maybe a chance that the tube could have been an artifact of this earlier time, surrounded or obscured by later development.

Body in tube.png


Also, there seems to be an assumption that because the cylinder was discovered horizontal, it must also have been that way inclined for its intended use . Could it originally have been vertical? If so, this would add another form of misadventure to the list of potential reasons for a body being inside - people fall inside things and seriously injure themselves all the time.

I suspect the crumpled end is a product of later development related disruption, or the bombing and it's aftermath - and that the body was drying away in there long before it's means of escape was sealed.
 

Souleater

Devoted Cultist
Joined
Jan 10, 2021
Messages
193
Reaction score
298
Points
63
I'd really like to know more about the cylinder itself - I think it might have as much of a tale to tell as the body, and it's a shame there aren't better photographs.

Is there any non-vague explanation as to what it might have been, and why it would have been in that location?

Maps of the area at the time of T C Williams' disappearance suggest that the area consisted of dense terraced housing, rather than industrial units (see the link in Souleater's post #43). But the 1851 map (below) shows a less densely developed area which might be more likely to contain industrial works (the sand pit might also suggest some sort of industrial use in the locality). There is also what appears to undeveloped space around where the Methodist Chapel would later stand, and immediately north of it - the area where the cylinder is said to have been found. I wonder if there's maybe a chance that the tube could have been an artifact of this earlier time, surrounded or obscured by later development.

View attachment 33807

Also, there seems to be an assumption that because the cylinder was discovered horizontal, it must also have been that way inclined for its intended use . Could it originally have been vertical? If so, this would add another form of misadventure to the list of potential reasons for a body being inside - people fall inside things and seriously injure themselves all the time.

I suspect the crumpled end is a product of later development related disruption, or the bombing and it's aftermath - and that the body was drying away in there long before it's means of escape was sealed.
It mentions that the cylinder may have been a ventilation duct, maybe from a ship.
The maps are present day just to show relative distances between locations
 

Spookdaddy

Cuckoo
Joined
May 24, 2006
Messages
6,794
Reaction score
8,080
Points
294
Location
Midwich
It mentions that the cylinder may have been a ventilation duct, maybe from a ship.
The maps are present day just to show relative distances between locations
There's an image cropped from what I think is an 1890's map in the Liverpool Picturebook page that you linked to - that's the one I was referring to in my last post; I should probably have made that a bit clearer.
 

Souleater

Devoted Cultist
Joined
Jan 10, 2021
Messages
193
Reaction score
298
Points
63
There's an image cropped from what I think is an 1890's map in the Liverpool Picturebook page that you linked to - that's the one I was referring to in my last post; I should probably have made that a bit clearer.
The main theory, owing to the brick/hessian bag pillow is that the cylinder was being used to sleep in, it also nentions that the open end of the cylinder was crushed closed in the excavation of the bomb debris by a bulldozer
 

EnolaGaia

I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...
Staff member
Joined
Jul 19, 2004
Messages
20,154
Reaction score
27,751
Points
309
Location
Out of Bounds
I'd really like to know more about the cylinder itself; I think it might have as much of a tale to tell as the body, and it's a shame that there aren't more and better photographs.
Is there any non-vague explanation as to what it might have been, and why it would have been in that location?
I suspect the crumpled end is a product of later development related disruption, or the bombing and it's aftermath - and that the body was drying away in there long before it's means of escape was sealed. ...
Agreed ... The cylinder itself was a source of clues no one at the time seemed to be able to resolve into a coherent identification.

It has been addressed as a cylinder, a canister, a piece of ductwork and a pipe (in the materials I've seen). I find it somewhat curious that the inquest (as reported at the time) consistently referred to it as a canister.

Its source, its original location and its originally intended use were never established. It was suggested the object resembled a section of ventilation ductwork similar to ducts found in a ship. However, nobody alleged it couldn't have been a duct from a building, where I've seen similar cylindrical ducts.

It was found in or beneath a mass of other debris left over from the war's bombings. I've found no mention of whether its earliest documented location represented a destroyed location within which it had long been installed versus a pile of debris that had been piled up during the war.

Its state was not consistently described. Some accounts claim it was crimped at both ends. As one can readily tell from the sole photo, this is not true. One end had a cap or end plate bolted or screwed into place. The cylinder represented a dead end in whatever circuit or passage it provided. The other end was consistently alleged (though vaguely) to have been open but accidentally crushed into its crimped configuration by a bulldozer while it and other debris were being cleared away after the war.

I have yet to see any allegations whether the open end was finished (i.e., undamaged; as manufactured) versus being damaged as if torn from a larger assembly.

The earliest documentation clearly states it had a diameter of 19 (one source says 20 ...) inches. Later, derivative, accounts typically allude to its diameter being up to 24 inches. The cylinder's wall thickness was 5/32 inches.

TCW was known to have been a merchant dealing in paints. The early news reports note that no traces of paint were found inside the cylinder. The RootsWeb thread (see above) cites sources claiming TCW dealt in oils. I've not seen any mention of oil traces. Census records indicate TCW was a drysalter (a dealer in diverse materials and / or chemical products) early in his working life. I mention this because if TCW had continued to operate as a general drysalter (perhaps eventually emphasizing paints and oils) he may well have been dealing with dry materials for which a roughly 7-foot-long metal cylinder could reasonably serve as a storage container.
 

IbisNibs

Exotic animal, sort of . . .
Joined
Oct 30, 2016
Messages
1,617
Reaction score
3,672
Points
154
Location
Outside my comfort zone.
I find this detail very strange:
The two bankruptcy documents we have suggest no creditors had come forth to claim proceeds from liquidation as of 1885.
Would that indicate that other documents existed at one time, but are now lost/destroyed?
Or that, in some instances, no creditors come forth to claim proceeds from liquidations?
Or something else?
 

EnolaGaia

I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...
Staff member
Joined
Jul 19, 2004
Messages
20,154
Reaction score
27,751
Points
309
Location
Out of Bounds
... Would that indicate that other documents existed at one time, but are now lost/destroyed?
Or that, in some instances, no creditors come forth to claim proceeds from liquidations?
Or something else?
I don't know, because I don't know how insolvency / bankruptcy procedures were executed in Victorian England. Since the two calls for creditors occurred after 1869, the Debtors Act of 1869 would have applied. This would mean insolvency / bankruptcy had been decriminalized and Williams was not at risk of imprisonment.

Both notices to creditors were issued by a designated Trustee. This means Williams (or possibly one or more creditors) had petitioned legal authority to initiate insolvency / bankruptcy proceedings. A Trustee is assigned to manage the debtor's 'estate' (analogous to an executor managing an estate in probate). The Trustee governs the course and terms of the process, including managing the relations between debtor and creditors.

As far as I know (or can reasonably guess based on modern procedures) the Trustee holds decision authority over moving to final liquidation (at any time, with appropriate notice) or overseeing a debtor's ongoing operations so as to receive payments and distribute the proceeds to the creditors. In other words, the Trustee may decide to sell off all governed assets and pay the creditors all at once, or he may elect to keep the debtor on a leash for as long as regular payments toward the debts are made.

My guess is that Williams was subject to insolvency / bankruptcy oversight as of March 1884, at which point the Trustees announced a call for creditors pending liquidation. Whether that anticipated total liquidation was actually performed is an open question. Owing to either (a) a second fall into insolvency after a liquidation or (b) a deferral of the 1884 liquidation Williams was placed or had remained under Trustee governance as of September 1885, when a second notice was issued that made no reference to the 1884 notice or actions taken at that time.

Both notices cite Williams as doing business under the same company name and at the same address.

My first guess is that Williams managed to evade total liquidation in spring 1884 and continued to pursue his business. It may be that no creditors demanded liquidation and / or the Trustees negotiated a continuance while Williams attempted to pay off his debts under a managed payment arrangement. Even this second chance totally collapsed by late summer 1885, and the Trustees issued another call for creditors in preparation for a total liquidation. The diary entry about a June 1885 appointment and the postcard dated 3 July 1885 may have represented his last chances to continue doing business.

The two ruined pocket diaries (what we now call 'day planners') would have been invaluable in piecing together what happened. One was dated 1884 and the other 1885. I suspect that during the final two years they represented his 'database', and perhaps almost all there was of his operating resources.
 

Souleater

Devoted Cultist
Joined
Jan 10, 2021
Messages
193
Reaction score
298
Points
63
I don't know, because I don't know how insolvency / bankruptcy procedures were executed in Victorian England. Since the two calls for creditors occurred after 1869, the Debtors Act of 1869 would have applied. This would mean insolvency / bankruptcy had been decriminalized and Williams was not at risk of imprisonment.

Both notices to creditors were issued by a designated Trustee. This means Williams (or possibly one or more creditors) had petitioned legal authority to initiate insolvency / bankruptcy proceedings. A Trustee is assigned to manage the debtor's 'estate' (analogous to an executor managing an estate in probate). The Trustee governs the course and terms of the process, including managing the relations between debtor and creditors.

As far as I know (or can reasonably guess based on modern procedures) the Trustee holds decision authority over moving to final liquidation (at any time, with appropriate notice) or overseeing a debtor's ongoing operations so as to receive payments and distribute the proceeds to the creditors. In other words, the Trustee may decide to sell off all governed assets and pay the creditors all at once, or he may elect to keep the debtor on a leash for as long as regular payments toward the debts are made.

My guess is that Williams was subject to insolvency / bankruptcy oversight as of March 1884, at which point the Trustees announced a call for creditors pending liquidation. Whether that anticipated total liquidation was actually performed is an open question. Owing to either (a) a second fall into insolvency after a liquidation or (b) a deferral of the 1884 liquidation Williams was placed or had remained under Trustee governance as of September 1885, when a second notice was issued that made no reference to the 1884 notice or actions taken at that time.

Both notices cite Williams as doing business under the same company name and at the same address.

My first guess is that Williams managed to evade total liquidation in spring 1884 and continued to pursue his business. It may be that no creditors demanded liquidation and / or the Trustees negotiated a continuance while Williams attempted to pay off his debts under a managed payment arrangement. Even this second chance totally collapsed by late summer 1885, and the Trustees issued another call for creditors in preparation for a total liquidation. The diary entry about a June 1885 appointment and the postcard dated 3 July 1885 may have represented his last chances to continue doing business.

The two ruined pocket diaries (what we now call 'day planners') would have been invaluable in piecing together what happened. One was dated 1884 and the other 1885. I suspect that during the final two years they represented his 'database', and perhaps almost all there was of his operating resources.
The interesting thing i would like to know is the hisrory of 5 Leeds st, after TCWs business closed, if, as i suspect, the cylinder was within the premises up until a bomb waa dropped on it, did any other business operate within the buildind w between 1885 and 1945? I have tried a brief search for info on google but with no luck
 
Top