The Body in the Cylinder

In 1943, a bulldozer turned up a 6-foot cylinder while clearing building debris from a war bombed site in Liverpool, England. It was laid aside by the building contractors and remained unguarded for two years, until July of 1945 when three boys discovered a human skeleton inside. It appeared to be the remains of an adult male who had crawled into the cylinder and was lying there, his head pillowed on a brick wrapped in sacking, when he died, probably around 1885. He was wearing Victorian clothing of good quality, and his pockets contained two diaries, a postcard, a handkerchief, a brooch, a signet ring, and some miscellaneous papers. The postcard was addressed to T. C. Williams. In 1885, Liverpool had a paint and brush manufacturer by that name., and he had declared bankruptcy the year before. The inquest hypothesized that he had left home and been sleeping in the cylinder, perhaps at his place of business, when it became sealed somehow and he was asphyxiated. It’s likely the authorities at the time assumed he had absconded to escape his debts. There was no evidence that the man had been killed in the blitz, as had been suspected initially. The coroner closed the inquest by stating it was impossible establish a cause of death. The inquiry sought relatives of T. C. Williams, but had no success. His wife was buried alone, and there were no records of T. C. Williams’ burial. The case remains unsolved today.