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The sinister story of the UK’s most dangerous prisoner who has spent over forty years alone in solitary confinement

Robert Maudsley’s custom made underground cell has been compared to the famous glass cell in Silence of the Lambs…

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Having earned himself the title as the country’s most dangerous prisoner, serial killer Robert Maudsley has spent the last four decades of his life alone in an underground glass box in solitary confinement.

Maudsley was just twenty-one years old when he committed his first murder – however, his final three murders were carried out behind bars.

It all started with a turbulent childhood – born in Toxteth, Liverpool, Maudsley and his siblings were all brought up in an orphanage, and would go on to spend their traumatic childhoods in and out of foster homes. 

When he was just sixteen, Maudsley left his foster home to move to London, where he quickly developed a consuming drug habit.

List25 / YouTube

It was here where Maudsley met his first victim – after picking up work as a rent boy, laborer and alleged child abuser, John Farrel had paid Maudsley for his services, only to be strangled, stabbed and beaten to death. 

Maudsley was quickly apprehended for the murder, and was subsequently sectioned and sent to serve a life sentence at Broadmoor Hospital – here, however, he went on to torture and kill a fellow patient using a sharpened spoon, a brutality that earned him the nickname ‘Hannibal the Cannibal.’

From there, he was moved to the maximum security Wakefield Prison in Yorkshire where two more murders took place.

It was at this point where staff decided that Maudsley was too dangerous to be around other inmates, and thus his life in solitary confinement began.

In 1983, a special two-unit cell was constructed for Maudsley – measuring just 5.5m by 4.5m and containing bullet-proof windows. According to the Guardian, inside the cell there’s just a bed, table and chair, along with a toilet and sink that are bolted to the floor.

Anders Hanson / Unsplash

There’s also a solid steel door that opens inside a small cage within the cell, with a small slot towards the bottom for guards to pass Maudsley food and other items.

The publication reported in 2003 that the serial killer spends twenty-three hours a day in confinement, is escorted to the yard by six prison officers at a time, and isn’t allowed any contact with other prisoners.

According to the newspaper, Maudsley – who became the longest-serving living British prisoner following the death of murderer Ian Brady – wrote: “The prison authorities see me as a problem, and their solution has been to put me into solitary confinement and throw away the key, to bury me alive in a concrete coffin.

“It does not matter to them whether I am mad or bad. They do not know the answer and they do not care just so long as I am kept out of sight and out of mind.

“I am left to stagnate, vegetate and to regress; left to confront my solitary head-on with people who have eyes but don’t see and who have ears but don’t hear, who have mouths but don’t speak. My life in solitary is one long period of unbroken depression.”

Emiliano Bar / Unsplash

Over the years, the controversial cell has been nicknamed ‘the glass cage’ for its likeness to the 1991 film, Silence of the Lambs.

In 2000, Maudsley filed an application for suicide by a cyanide capsule – however, this was denied. His applications for a pet budgie, classical music and a television were also rejected.

In 2010, Maudsley reportedly asked officials to let him play board games with prison officials, claiming it would help ease some of the gloominess and monotony of life in solitary confinement – due to his crimes, however, officials remain reluctant to grant him any benefits.

The prisoner remains in this confinement to this very day, with no glimmer of any normality on the horizon – but should this case have been treated any differently?

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Street photographer creates incredible Mini Manchester and Blackpool nostalgia photo series

The photography series aims to encapsulate significant parts of Manchester’s history

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@giselaszlatoszlavek / Instagram

Whether it be retro beer cans or vintage match boxes, there isn’t much that Gisela Szlatoszlavek will limit herself to to capture the spirit of the city.

While Gisela works full time as a teaching assistant, she is also a keen street photographer with a passion for documenting gentrified areas of Manchester, with her even having published That Golden Mile, a sell-out book on Blackpool street photography.

And it was a combination of these two professions that sparked the idea for her ‘Little’ series, with Gisela finding inspiration during a photography lesson.

Talking on the birth of the miniature series, which sees her create scenes using tiny models, Gisela told Proper Manchester: “The pupils were working with small figurines around the classroom, and it made me think of how well that would work out in the street. 

@giselaszlatoszlavek / Instagram

“I started with Blackpool, and thinking of places that make the town iconic and recognisable… like the sunburned men wearing vests and local mums pushing prams.”

And being a local lass herself – she hails from Oldham – Gisela knew that Manchester and its vast history would provide the perfect backdrop for her new series.

She explained: “Everything I’ve done up to now is a nod to something special about the city, such as the Haçienda, the Manchester bee, Manchester United, and Manchester City.”

And despite the series only being a couple of months old, Gisela has countless instalments of a variety of different themes under her belt, all of which give an insight into life in both Blackpool and Manchester.

@giselaszlatoszlavek / Instagram

Her photographs range from trips to the football, chippy teas and seaside fun in Blackpool, and even trips to the iconic Haçienda nightclub – complete with a pair of maracas, of course.

And fans of Gisela’s work will notice a recurring retro theme, which in itself is a nod to her own passion for the 1980s: “That era was fantastic, I wish I could have taken these photos back then.

“So I wanted to try and create a lot of my series around that time period.”

A lot of the props used in the series are genuine vintage too, including retro beer cans found on eBay, cassette tapes and even match boxes from the era.

Putting together these images is no walk in the park, however, with some taking Gisela several weeks to complete from start to finish. 

@giselaszlatoszlavek / Instagram

Every aspect of the photo – from the initial idea to the construction itself – is a painstaking process, with Gisela often spending hours at a time scouring through Google Street View to establish which spots will work the best, whether it be the aesthetics, the lighting or just for the finer details to add to the final image.

Gisela then buys the figurines online, and spends even more time hand painting them to adapt them to different scenes – for some photos, she’s even gone to the effort of making miniature outfits using a magnifying glass.

And actually taking the photos is no easier, mainly thanks to members of the public and busy traffic, which Manchester’s city centre in particular has an abundance of.

She explained: “Unsurprisingly, Market Street is definitely the hardest location to work, thanks to the volume of people and things going on in the background. @giselaszlatoszlavek / Instagram

“Because I have to be as low to the ground as possible, I do get members of the public coming up to me and asking what I’m doing and checking that I’m okay… Some people even think I’ve collapsed in the street!

“But most people are lovely, and are just curious and want to know what I’m doing.” 

While the Little Manchester and Little Blackpool series remains as a side project for Gisela at the moment, she aims to one day collaborate with other artists, and eventually take on paid commissions. 

This is only the beginning for Gisela’s Little series, so make sure to follow her official Instagram page to stay updated with her latest work.

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Londoner shares his list of ‘observations’ about Manchester after spending four days here

City centre traffic, dog poo bags littering canals and Mancunian women dressing like Wim Hoff were all big talking points…

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Mylo Kaye / Unsplash

Whenever someone from the south is brave enough to venture up North, they’re usually met with a bit of a culture shock.

And this week, one Londoner fared no differently.

Taking to Reddit, the anonymous man explained that he had spent four days in Manchester and, while he described the city as ‘glorious’ and said he couldn’t wait to visit again soon, he was left with a few observations and questions.

He began by noting how ‘very small’ the city is – though he did point out that this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing because he was able to ‘walk everywhere’.

Fran Serra / Unsplash

Beats getting the tube, doesn’t it?

However, he then pointed out how nobody moves out of the way while walking in different directions in the street (presumably Market Street…), saying it made him feel like he was ‘in the Verve’s Bitter Sweet Symphony video’.

Other observations included a ‘disproportionate number of great restaurants’ and a lot of ‘beautiful buildings that seem to be falling apart’.

And, in one perception that may surprise many, he gushed at how ‘very quiet’ Manchester’s city centre roads are, mainly thanks to the ‘revolutionary lack of traffic’.

@mangopearuk / Unsplash

He also questioned if all Mancunian women are avid followers of Wim Hoff, a Dutch motivational speaker famed for his love of running through snow and ice wearing next to nothing.

With this, he admitted that their ‘ability to sport such minimal attire in such minimal temperatures was humbling’.

And staying on the topic of Mancunian clothing, the Redditor pondered what the obsession is with suit style jackets for women, while also pointing out the ‘lack of effort from their male counterparts’.

He added: “Tight Jeans, a branded white tee and some Yeezy’s seem the standard uniform.”

Chris Curry / Unsplash

However, not all of his observations were so light hearted, with him noting a blatant difference in Manchester’s racial diversity compared to that in the capital.

He wrote: “It’s very white. Having grown up in London I am used to seeing a fairly even spread of brown people. For such a metropolitan city this was the biggest surprise for me.

“I only had one instance of racial abuse. This is something that I don’t get in London.”

And he rounded up his observations with a question that many Mancunians will have asked themselves over the years: “Why are there loads of dog poo bags scattered along the canal toe paths? [sic]”

You can read the full post here.

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MANCHESTER’S MOST HAUNTED: The haunting of the Town Hall

More than just council officials lurk the Town Hall’s corridors…

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Steve & Michael D Beckwith / Flickr

Manchester has had its fair share of ghostly happenings over the decades, what with its dark and grizzly industrial past.

There’s the poltergeist of Westhoughton, a ghostly Black Shuck dog lurking within Manchester Cathedral and the sinister Grey Lady of Cheetham’s School of Music.

But did you know that the city’s Town Hall has its own sinister story?

Completed in 1877, the Grade I listed building is home not only to Manchester City Council, but apparently a few ghostly residents, too.

Manchester Local Image Collection at Manchester City Council

There have been countless reports of ghost sightings within the walls of this historic building over the years, with the spirits of deceased councillors allegedly roaming the many halls and corridors.

But the most frequently seen ghost is that of a Victorian police officer who is said to have died in the late 1800s.

Rumour has it that despite his death hundreds of years ago, this ghostly bobby continues to patrol the halls of the building, scaring off countless visitors and ghost hunters in the process. 

Ian Waring, a member of the Tameside-based paranormal investigations group Shadow Seekers, claims to have seen the spirit in the flesh in what he called an ‘incredibly strange and bizarre’ encounter.

Manchester Local Image Collection at Manchester City Council

It happened during one of his guided tours of the building, where he takes on the ghost hunting persona ‘Flecky Bennet’.

Ian told Mancunian Matters at the time: “I took this big gentleman around the first part of the tour in the town hall, and then he disappeared.

“He was stood in the middle of the group, but no-one saw him disappear and there was nowhere he could have gone, it was a big open area.

“The next day I explained to the town hall what had happened and they said he sounded like a police officer who died in the late 1800s.

Manchester Local Image Collection at Manchester City Council

“I looked up a photograph of him and it was definitely the man who was on the tour. It was incredibly bizarre, really strange.”

But people had been experiencing this ghostly copper decades prior – around twenty years ago, an unsuspecting electrician had been working late at night in the upper reaches of the building when he felt an eerie ‘disturbance’. 

When he looked around, he found a Victorian-looking gentleman staring at him and silently smiling. 

The electrician fled the scene and reported what he had seen to his foreman, who of course didn’t believe his tale. At this, the foreman instructed the terrified man to return to upper reaches to collect his tools, which he refused to do.

Manchester Local Image Collection at Manchester City Council

Eventually, the foreman went to collect the tools himself but, minutes later, returned with a look of sheer terror, having clearly experienced a firm telling off by the officer himself.

Other myths in the building include a spirit that hates the sound of whistling – anyone found to be making the noise is plunged into darkness with a few slamming doors for good measure.

Some members of staff also claim that the late Mayor of Manchester Abel Heywood haunts the the clock mechanism room, which seems appropriate considering he gave his name to the hour bell in the clock tower. 

But fast forwarding to today, the Manchester Town Hall is still undergoing its extensive £328m renovation, which poises the question as to whether its ghostly inhabitants will still be there upon completion. 

Though there will be only one way to find out…

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