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.
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.
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.”
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?
FORGOTTEN MANCHESTER: The mysterious underground tunnels and passageways below the city centre
There’s more to Manchester than meets the eye…
It’s no secret that, below the surface of the hustle and bustle of the city, Manchester houses a number of underground tunnels, passageways and deserted bomb shelters.
For decades now, rumours and speculation surrounding this mysterious underground world have been rife, with many even venturing into the depths themselves.
There’s even an interactive ‘Hidden Manchester Map‘ – created by Mark Crossfield – which allows you to browse through the catalogue of tunnels and passageways hidden beneath the surface; if that won’t sort you out for those 2am internet binges, I don’t know what will.
Anyway, the map has opened my mind to a whole new underground world, so I thought I’d share it with you lovely lot…
The Deansgate Tunnel
The eerie Deansgate Tunnel was discovered all the way back in 1911 when a row of houses were demolished on Cumberland Street (where the elusive Spinningfields neighbourhood now stands).
The tunnel was supposedly big enough to fit a horse and cart through, and featured a massive arched roof and exposed brick walls – evidently, it wouldn’t look out of place in the Northern Quarter property market today.
It remains unknown as to who actually built the tunnel, which runs right down the length of the Cathedral to Pomona at the Ship Canal, with some believing it could date all the way back to Roman times.
Piccadilly to Victoria Underground Railway
Disclaimer: There aren’t any actual tunnels from this… But there very nearly was. That’s close enough, isn’t it?
Anyway, over forty years ago, ambitious plans for an underground railway system not unlike London’s was well underway for Manchester; in fact, there have been at least six attempts to build a fully-functioning rail network beneath the surface.
However, despite the projects being far along with their developments, each attempt failed miserably, including a proposed line that would run from Victoria, underneath the Royal Exchange, under the Central Library, down Princess Street and finally onto Piccadilly.
The whole idea of an underground link was eventually shelved in the late 70’s, with four projects being eventually passed and transformed to above-surface roads, known today as Mancunian Way and the ‘Guardian’ a network of tunnels through the city to Salford.
The Manchester Cave
Nestled beneath the buildings along the River Irwell just a stone’s throw from Parsonage Gardens there lays the ‘Manchester Cave’, a mysterious and somewhat daunting underground abys.
There’s not a great deal known about this so-called ‘cave’, though going by the YouTube video of some daredevil climbing down into it, it looks like the remains of an old underground construction site.
Both unsafe and unnerving but, still, it made the Hidden Manchester Map so that’s all that counts.
Guardian Underground Telephone Exchange
The Guardian Underground telephone exchange was built way back when in 1954 as a result of ongoing fears regarding the Cold War nuclear destruction (we have it easy these days, don’t we?), intended to act as a safe communications network that could link with similar ones in Birmingham and London.
The GUTE is located a whopping 112ft below the city and, at one point, even managed to have it’s own supply of drinking water, as well as a number of bunkers to house people in the event of a nuclear war breakout.
The GUTE was never used (down to the lack of nuclear attacks, probably), but the tunnels still remain to this very day and are actually used by broadband companies like BT and Nynex.
According to the Hidden Manchester Map, there are plenty of rumours regarding some undiscovered tunnels beneath the Manchester Cathedral that lead to a number of locations across the city and its outskirts.
A number of the passageways allegedly connect the Cathedral to pubs (God wouldn’t have approved of that) and, according to Keith Warrender’s Underground Manchester, a heavy door was discovered in the tunnel leading to the Castle & Falcon Pub in 1975 which contained a pile of skeletons and a passage which led to the cathedral.
Who else is going to have nightmares tonight?
Make sure to check out the Hidden Manchester Map for yourself here – it’s well worth an hour’s scrolling time out of your day, I promise.
Artist creates incredible micro sculpture of Tyson Fury on top of a nail
Dr. Willard Wigan used a nylon cable tie, gold with a broken tip of diamond and his own eyelash as a paintbrush to create the sculpture
A talented micro artist has created a minuscule sculpture of Tyson Fury in a ‘smallest biggest tribute’ to the boxer following his historic heavyweight championship victory over the weekend.
Dr. Willard Wigan MBE, sixty-four, has produced an impressive catalogue of miniature sculptures throughout his life – we’re talking fourteen camels fitting inside the eye of a needle, kind of miniature – and considers himself to be ‘officially the greatest micro artist of all time’.
Willard prides himself on making the ‘most wondrous’ microscopic art in history and holds down an impressive fan base which includes Her Majesty the Queen, who invited him to Buckingham Palace after he sculpted her her very own miniature crown.
But where did this unusual passion for miniature sculpting come from?
Willard, who was diagnosed with autism later in life, was excluded from his classes as a result of his learning differences and, after constant humiliation from both his teachers and his peers, closed himself off, fully immersing himself in the world of sculpting.
His first sculpting masterpiece came after an experience with an ants nest in his back garden; using just his dad’s razor blade, a five-year-old Willard sculpted, built and constructed a whole miniature village – complete with tables, chairs and a fully-functioning playground – for ants using only twigs.
Recalling the moment his talent was discovered, Willard told Proper Manchester: “When my mum saw what I’d created, she brought it all into the house and said to me ‘If you make them smaller, your name is going to get bigger.’
“From there, my journey to create the smallest sculptures in the world began and I became possessed with it. My mum kept telling me I was the best, and that encouragement made me truly believe it.”
And fast forwarding nearly six decades, Willard has dedicated his entire life to the art of micro sculpting, creating an array of sculptures such as a tiny Mona Lisa and a minuscule London Bridge, some of which have sold for up to £200K.
And most recently, the artist decided to use his talent to pay tribute to a very new victory; Tyson Fury’s Heavyweight Championship victory last weekend.
A huge boxing fan himself, Willard has long regarded the Wythenshawe-born Tyson to not only be the greatest boxer of all time, but a mental health advocate, an inspiration and a philosopher in his own right. He said: “He’s an example at what can be achieved when you’re going through a dark tunnel. He inspires people to believe in themselves. He’s not just a boxer, he’s a philosopher as well.”
He also sees similarities between himself and the boxer, noting that he and Tyson are both the best at what they do, and both have inspiring stories to tell.
Using a nylon cable tie, gold with a broken tip of diamond and his own eyelash as a paintbrush, Willard worked on the sculpture – which features a set of green boxing gloves and black shorts emblazoned with ‘Gypsy King’ – for four weeks in his Birmingham workshop.
He eventually titled the piece ‘Hard as Nails’, noting that not only is Tyson hard as nails, but he has ‘nailed mental health, he nailed Deontay Wilder, and he’s also nailing the World Heavyweight Championship, and he will keep that nailed down’.
‘Hard as Nails’ is now on display at the Birmingham Contemporary Art Gallery, though you can view more of Willard’s pieces over on his website.
HEROES OF MANCHESTER: Meet the firefighter who ran Manchester Marathon in full kit to raise money for Alzheimer’s UK
A video of Andy crossing the finish line seven hours after the marathon began went viral over the weekend
A Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service firefighter managed to raise thousands of pounds for Alzheimer’s UK after running a marathon in his full fire fighting kit.
The annual Manchester Marathon took place over the weekend and, as is the case every year, thousands of people used the 26.2 mile run as an opportunity to raise money for a charity close to their hearts.
But one ambitious marathon-runner decided to take the challenge to the next level; Andy Ball, a fire fighter for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS), and his friend and colleague Ryan Jones ran the marathon in full fire kit – complete with a breathing apparatus cylinder – all in order to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK and Dementia UK.
The organisation is the UK’s leading dementia research charity and funds world-class pioneering scientists to find preventions, treatments and a cure for both dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Andy, a dad of two from St. Helens, has run two marathons in fire kit in the past, both to raise money for charity and other good causes. But this year, his motivation was a little closer to the heart; his grandad Derek suffers from dementia and having experienced first-hand the impact the disease can have upon both the individual and their families, Andy wanted to make a difference.
He told Proper Manchester: “I’ve had a lot of personal experience with dementia in my own family – my Grandad Derek suffers from the disease, so I’ve seen first-hand not only the awful effects it has upon the sufferer, but the impact it has on loved ones and relatives, too.”
Andy explained that his decision wasn’t a spur of the moment thing, however; preparation for the marathon was gruelling, with him training for months in advance. After he cut down on beer – arguably the most difficult task of them all – he started going on regular runs with his dogs, adding more weight to his clothing each time to prepare his body for the weight and the heat of his fire kit.
Andy explained: “The oxygen tank is approximately 15kg, and the rest of the kit comes in at around 10kg, so we had a good 30kg of extra weight.”
And in the rare Mancunian sunshine experienced over the weekend, this extra weight proved to be quite the challenge, with Andy recalling how difficult the marathon became as a result of the layers and weight.
He said: “It took us over seven hours to complete the marathon. But the intention for me was to get over that finish line on that same day… It was the hardest marathon I’ve run so far. It was very hard, very challenging. It didn’t help that the sun was out, either.”
Andy also challenged himself to complete the last mile of the marathon using the oxygen from his oxygen tank, known as being ‘on air’ in firefighter speak, something that only made the task all the more gruelling.
However, he noted that the atmosphere throughout the run was ‘brilliant’, saying that the people of Manchester were the ones to get him through. He said: “The atmosphere throughout the whole marathon was brilliant – the people of Manchester were just amazing and that’s what got me through to the very end.”
And, speaking of the moment he was greeted by his wife and children at the finish line – a moment captured on video and viewed by thousands of people across the country – Andy said: “If there had been no one at the finish line, there’d be nothing for me to carry on for. That was everything to me, having my wife and kids waiting for me there. It was just fantastic.”
And perhaps in even more miraculous news, Andy isn’t in any pain from his marathon today and is instead spending his day off ‘having a couple of beers with the dogs’ – I’d say that’s well deserved.
Across two different GoFundMe pages, Andy and Ryan set a goal of £6,000 – but they have completely smashed that today with a combined sum of £10,372 at the time of writing.