Posts Tagged ‘1839’

It is a cemetery in the Gorbal’s district, Glasgow, Scotland and was opened in 1840 to provide more affordable burials; there are over 250,000 burials there on various layers of the place. The Old Gorbals cemetery was vastly overcrowded, this is not unusual for the time period, London and many major cities around the UK were opening more graveyards to compensate for the lack of space in those already established.

The proposals for a new cemetery started in 1839 and the following year the land was purchased and the first burial commenced. The first soul laid to rest there was 16-month old and occurred 21st July 1840. The three sections opened as follows: Central in 1840, Eastern in 1846 and Western in 1850. In 1954 the cemetery suffered from a large group of children who were committed to hunting down a vampire that they believed was buried in the cemetery. The incident sparked it’s own urban legend, a vampire had killed two children. The influence for this was blamed on American horror comics like Tales from the Crypt, despite no evidence for the reason being the comics the moral outrage led to an increased comic censorship.

23rd September 1954 PC Alex Deeprose was called out and expected to deal with a case of vandalism, instead he was met with hundreds of children from around 4 years old up to 14. They were armed with sticks and knives and were patrolling around inside the cemetery. They told the constable that they were looking for a 7 foot tall vampire, with iron teeth and had that he had kidnapped and eaten two local boys.

The rumours started in the playground, and there was a Chinese whisper emerging that they were going to head out there after school. At three o’clock that day the school emptied and children headed to the graveyard, gathering around the walls. Some were too scared to go in and stayed outside. There were no records of missing children at the time and the only blame they could come up with – comics.

Newspapers at the time took the tale and ran with it, the children turned up a second evening running and the headmaster of a local school had told them it was a ridiculous tale and eventually had the crowd dispersed.

Some of the other people in the area pointed out that they had got little reason to blame comics, after all the children were taught the bible. Daniel 7.7 specifically mentions a monster with iron teeth in it. The political frenzy however meant blaming comics was far more convenient. A local man explained that they would threaten the local children with the Iron Man before then, it was meant to be a sort of bogeyman affair but the political agenda against the comics made a better fit for the reason.

The cemetery is now operated by Glasgow City Council and is protected as a listed Category B building with the entrance listed as Category A. The cemetery also has 11 Commonwealth burials.

Glasgow. Southern Necropolis. Thomas Lipton's grave

Today’s find is more historical interest, I don’t find this macabre I find it very poignant.

The invention of photography might well be something we take for granted, after all we can happily wander around with digital cameras, phone camera’s and video cameras, we can snap anything we fancy, we can have a reel of 400 digital images to delete and never think about it…

But I think we should, imagine the age before photography where sketches, memories and sculptures caught the vision of the long deceased? Wouldn’t they marvel at even one small snap we produce?

From 1839 the invention of the daguerreotype was the first commercially successful photography, this meant pictures of the family could be taken however for the most part this was used as a momento for children. It’s worth noting here that the child mortality rate was high and often this would be the only pictorial reference. also found this if you are in England, may have to try to take a trip!

Of course it wasn’t restricted to children, originally they pictures might only be portrait shots but later on this adapted to other things, such as the coffin, or perhaps even props. For the children this might be a photo of the babe in the cot with toys, as time went on there was more thought put into the rosy cheeks or other little details.

This was a more popular trend in Europe than it was in the United States. I don’t know why because it’s America that has a Coffin Museum…
Postmortem man