Tag Archives: Liverpool Street

Tales From the Terminals: Liverpool Street…. From Bedlam to Kindertransport (Part Two)

Liverpool Street at War

As with its former neighbour, Broad Street- which suffered at the hands of a zeppelin airship in 1915- Liverpool Street Station was the victim of enemy bombing during the First World War, with a devastating attack taking place in May 1917.

By this point the German military had realised that their airships, with their cumbersome and vulnerable nature, were no longer effective for carrying out air-raids over London.

With this in mind, they switched to smaller aircraft- the Gotha Bombers.

A Gotha Bomber; the make of aircraft which unleashed an early air-raid on Liverpool Street in 1917

With their speed and manoeuvrability, these craft proved far more deadly.

When a squadron of Gothas attacked Liverpool Street during the 1917 assault, they unleashed a lethal flurry of bombs, killing 162 people.

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Four years after WWI, in 1922, a large memorial was installed at Liverpool Street Station as a solemn tribute to the many employees of the Great Eastern Railway who had perished during the devastating conflict.

WWI Memorial at Liverpool Street (photo: Wikipedia)

This memorial was unveiled at midday on June 22nd 1922 by Sir Henry Wilson, a 58 year old politician who had served in WWI as one of Britain’s most senior officers.

Sir Henry Wilson

Once the ceremony was over, Sir Wilson hailed a taxi, the destination being his home on Eaton Square… however, he never made it.

Lying in wait at the Belgravia address were Reginald Dunne and Joseph O’Sullivan; two members of the Irish Republican Army who were reputedly unhappy with the terms of the Anglo-Irish Treaty which had been signed six months before (coincidentally, the treaty had been signed at 22 Hans Place, a short walk from Sir Wilson’s home) .

From their vantage point, Dunne and O’Sullivan waited for Sir Wilson to pay the cabbie and then, as their target mounted the steps to his front door, the pair dashed forward, shooting the former Field-Marshall several times.

Sir Henry Wilson died on his doorstep, the murder causing chaos and outrage. His killers were both quickly caught, and executed at Wandsworth prison a few months later.

WWII and the Kindertransport

Liverpool Street’s finest hour occurred during the prelude to WWII, when the London terminal played a vital role in shepherding 1,000s of Jewish refugees- all of whom were children- to safety.

This process was known as the Kindertransport.

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Ever since Hitler had seized power in 1933, Jews had been subject to persecution.

However, on the 10th November 1938, the Nazi’s hatred exploded dramatically and violently with the horrendous Kristallnacht; the ‘night of broken glass.’

A Synagogue burns on Kristallnacht, 1938

During the span of one evening, 267 synagogues, 7,500 Jewish businesses and 1,000s more Jewish homes were targeted, with Nazi thugs smashing windows and daubing anti-Semitic graffiti.

Arson was carried out on a huge scale, with many Jewish premises destroyed outright. A number of Jews were killed, whilst many more were rounded up and arrested.

Jews being rounded up in the aftermath of Kristallnacht

Following this night of horror, the Kindertransport concept was quickly conceived and put into action.

After getting the nod from then Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, certain immigration laws were suspended, thus allowing Jewish youngsters under the Nazi jackboot to enter the UK in large groups rather than waste precious time in applying individually.

In all, around 10,000 children found shelter in the UK under the system and every single one of them passed through Liverpool Street Station.

Plaque belonging to one of Liverpool Street’s Kindertransport memorials

The first group arrived just three weeks after Kristallnacht- 196 little ones whose Jewish orphanage had been callously destroyed by the Nazis.

Two Kindertransport refugees, photographed on a ferry bound for Harwich

The young refugees came to the UK by ship, landing in Harwich. From there, they boarded special steam-trains to London, where they would be introduced to their kindly guardians at Liverpool Street Station. 

The process brought both salvation and utter heart-break.

Although the youngsters found safe-harbour, the vast majority would never see their parents again as the families they were torn from fell victim to the perils of war, concentration camps and gas-chambers.

Mankind at its worst…. a Star of David patch which Jews under the Nazi regime were required to wear upon their clothes

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Today, the Kindertransport’s life-line is commemorated at Liverpool Street by two sculptures.

The first, which is tucked away on the station’s bustling concourse, was originally unveiled in 2003 and is dedicated to the Quakers, whose campaign was vital in instigating and implementing the Kindertransport.

This poignant statue is twinned with similar artworks at Prague’s Hlavni Nadrazi Station and Vienna’s Westbannhof Station, both of which served as departure points for the evacuating children.

Kindertransport statue in Prague; cousin to Liverpool Street’s memorial

On 21st May 2011, a ceremony was held in which Liverpool Street’s subtle memorial was rededicated by a very special man… Sir Nicholas Winton- who is represented as the bespectacled chap holding the small child in the Prague statue above.

‘Nicky’ Winton in the late 1930s

Sir Nicholas- a Londoner, born in Hampstead in 1909- played a huge role in the Kindertransport, single-handedly organising the evacuation of 669 Jewish children from Czechoslovakia.

His amazing feat, which was carried out from a makeshift office set up in a Prague hotel room, has resulted in him being dubbed Britain’s answer to Oskar Schindler.

In 2011, a documentary film- Nicky’s Family– was made, chronicling Sir Nicholas’s efforts and the subsequent influence his humanity has had upon others.

The trailer for this moving film can be viewed in the following clip:

A humble man, Sir Nicholas didn’t speak about the immense role he’d played in saving so many youngsters from the evils of Nazism for several decades.

Things came to light again in the late 1980s when his wife, Greta discovered Nicholas’ note-books in the attic; the very books and paperwork which he’d used to administer the large scale evacuation.

Greta approached the BBC, who managed to track down 80 of those whose name appeared in the book and, in 1988, Sir Nicholas was invited onto the show, That’s Life to discuss the Kindertransport.

What the great man didn’t know as he sat in the audience was that he was surrounded by a large group of the now fully-grown up children whom he’d saved 50 years previously, all of whom would have started their new lives at Liverpool Street Station.

The following clip demonstrates what happened next….

In 2009, to mark the 70th anniversary of the Kindertransport, the lifeline’s route was re-created, with specially chartered steam locomotives linking up the stages across Europe.

The carriages, which were hauled by vintage trains, carried many of the surviving (and now very much grown up!) refugees, who had fled tyranny so many years before.

Younger guests were also invited to join the special ride, giving them the opportunity to chat to the former Kindertransport children about their tragic stories and experiences.

The final leg of the emotional event- Harwich to London- was hauled by the Winton Train; named in honour of Sir Nicholas.

The fantastic engine can be viewed in the following clip, as it thunders towards Liverpool Street on the memorial day:

Sir Nicholas Winton is still alive today; going strong and looking amazingly well at the grand old age of 103.

A true inspiration.

Sir Nicholas Winton at Liverpool Street in 2011

Sir Nicholas can be seen in a BBC news report from 2011, which details the re-dedication of Liverpool Street’s first Kindertransport memorial. Please click here to view the clip. 

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The second Kindertransport memorial at Liverpool Street Station can be found just outside one of the entrances, standing on a relatively peaceful area which has been named ‘Hope Square’.

Hope Square Memorial, Liverpool Street

Unveiled in 2006 by Prince Charles, the sculpture was created by Frank Meisler- who himself was a Kindertransport refugee, arriving from the Polish city, Gdansk in 1939.

Frank’s Liverpool Street sculpture is actually part of a  series, having three counterparts across Europe which chronicle the route of the Kindertransport.

The other sculptures can be found at Gdansk station in Poland, Berlin’s Friedrichstrasse station (which also commemorates the many more unfortunate youngsters who boarded more sinister trains to the death camps) and Rotterdam; the port from where the children would depart for the assured safety of England…

Kindertransport memorial at Gdansk, Poland

Kindertransport memorial, Berlin… ”Children on the Train to Death and Children on the Train to life’ (Photo: Wikipedia)

Kindertransport memorial, Rotterdam… the departure point for England (photo: Frank Meisler)

The Blitz and a challenge to authority

Once WWII was fully underway the Kindertransports were forced to cease… and, in 1940, Hitler unleashed his fury on London with the nightly Blitz.

Once the regular air-raids commenced, many Londoners considered the London Underground- with its exceptionally deep tunnels- to be a natural place in which to seek shelter. 

The government however had other ideas.

They feared that allowing people to shelter on the tube would result in a ‘bunker mentality’- in other words, they believed that once the shelterers were down on the platforms, they wouldn’t want to come back up ever again, becoming subterranean dwellers! 

As such, official policy was that the Underground was for transportation only; anyone attempting to stay for the night would be moved on.

On the 8th September 1940, an event at Liverpool Street station would result in this policy being re-considered…

It was a Sunday evening when the air-raid sirens kicked in and the drone of enemy bombers could be heard approaching…. Eager to get under cover, large groups of residents from Spitalfields dashed towards nearby Liverpool Street, aiming to head for the station’s deep Central Line platforms.

Once there, the crowd found the entrance to the tube barred and gated; shielded by armed troops who were under orders to enforce the government’s no-shelter on the tube policy.

The spirited East-Enders took no time in deciding that this blockade just would not do … and by sheer force of numbers, they managed to disable the barricade, barging their way through and pouring down to the deep platforms, mounting what we today would most probably label a ‘sit-down protest.’

Overwhelmed, the authorities quickly realised that the ban on sheltering on the underground was unworkable and the following day, the Minister for Home Security did a U-turn, announcing that the public were in fact more than welcome to spend the night on the tube if they so wished.

Londoners sheltering at Liverpool Street Underground during the Blitz (photo: Museum of London)

Following this change of heart, the government’s paranoid predictions of bunker mentality were proved wrong.

People sheltered in the tube by night, but were more than happy to leave the following morning…. If anything, they were probably glad of the fresh air after being stuck deep below ground for hours in stuffy, smelly and downright uncomfortable conditions.

Nor was the tube always safe- on several occasions, many civilians were killed by direct hits on stations, with explosions at Balham and Bank being particularly catastrophic.

The following clip is taken from the end of the 1941 short film, Christmas Under Fire, which was shown in American cinemas and depicts the conditions endured by Londoners who opted to shelter on the tube during the Blitz:

Liverpool Street Today

Despite being one of London’s busiest and most illustrious stations, Liverpool Street gradually sunk into a gloomy, decrepit state during the second half of the 20th century.

In 1986, Liverpool Street’s neighbour, Broad Street was demolished and a fresh, modern development of offices, restaurants and public spaces known as ‘Broadgate’ rapidly sprung up to fill the void.

Part of this complex spilled over towards Liverpool Street; namely the impressive ‘Exchange Square’, which is constructed on a vast raft, perched over the subterranean tracks leading into the station; a set-up which invites an interesting perspective of Liverpool Street’s Victorian architecture.

Liverpool Street Station, seen from Exchange Square

Popular with city-workers on their lunch break, Exchange Square is dotted with small cafes and eateries… and a wide array of public artworks, the largest of which is the ‘Broadgate Venus’:

Broadgate Venus

Weighing 5 tons, the Broadgate Venus was installed in 1990, its creator being Mr Fernando Botero, a Columbian artist who originally trained as a bull-fighter! Fernando’s work is very distinctive in that his subjects often appear tubby- his 1959 re-imagining of the Mona Lisa being a good demonstration of his style!

Fernando Botero’s Mona Lisa

The Future and reminders of the Past

Today, Liverpool Street continues to grow thanks to its role in the new Crossrail project; an express subway which will link the capital to a number of commuter towns stretching from Essex to Berkshire.

Deep beneath Liverpool Street, a large interchange is currently being constructed to serve the new route; a true feat of engineering which requires hefty piles to be ploughed 130ft into the ground.

Artist’s impression of Liverpool Street’s Crossrail entrance

Whilst excavations have been taking place, a large number of human skeletons have been unearthed, many of which lay only a few feet below the surface as generations of commuters trudged overhead…

A former inmate of the Bedlam Psychiatric Hospital, which once stood on Liverpool Street (photo: Crossrail)

These skeletons, which have been receiving the utmost care and attention in their removal, belong to former inmates of the Bedlam lunatic asylum; the site of the excavations marking the old hospital’s burial ground.

Archaeologists on the project have confirmed that the remains of 4,000 souls lie in this compact area, and it is hoped these sad collections of bones will give historians more insight into the lives of those who were ‘treated’ at the horrendous institution. 

As this London terminal expands to meet the needs of the 21st century, these once long-forgotten skeletons are a sober reminder of Liverpool Street’s darker past.

Joseph Merrick… ‘The Elephant Man’ (Part One)

(Please note, this article contains images of ‘The Elephant Man’; Joseph Merrick and his deformities which some readers may find upsetting)

Earlier this month, the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel unveiled its recent £650 million redevelopment.

An East-End landmark, the hospital has original buildings dating back to the 18th century, so the expensive revamp was very much needed.

Covering an area equivalent to 40 football pitches, the Royal London employs 3,000 staff and contains no less than 26 operating theatres.

During the re-fit, three tall towers were added; two being 16 storeys in height, the other 10 storeys.

The Royal London’s three new towers, tucked amongst the existing buildings.

Constructed mainly from glass, the towers are state-of-the-art; designed to maximise light and provide beautiful views over the City, thus ensuring that the environment is as pleasant as possible for the patients being treated within.

The Royal London is also home to London’s Air Ambulance, and the roof of one of the 16 storey towers contains a helipad for this purpose.

London Air Ambulance Support Vehicle

In short, the extensive updates have ensured that the Royal London is now an ultra-modern, cutting edge facility which can continue to treat patients as it has done for 100s of years. 

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Over the years, countless patients have passed through the Royal London.

But perhaps the most famous person to spend time there was Joseph Merrick; a young man from the late Victorian era who suffered from horrendous disfigurements.

Most people will have heard of Joseph Merrick (also mistakenly called ‘John’ in some accounts- including the 1980 movie version of his life) at some point in their lives… although it is usually by his more descriptive moniker:

‘The Elephant Man.’

Joseph Merrick, photographed at the Royal London Hospital, c. 1889

Early Life

Born in Leicester in August 1862, Joseph Carey Merrick was a healthy baby, displaying absolutely no sign of the terrible disease which would come to define his life.

However, symptoms began to develop in early childhood.

At 21 months old, swellings began to develop on Joseph’s lips and, by the time he was 5 years old, his skin had roughened and loosened. A bony lump had also developed on his forehead.

To add to his woes, Joseph also suffered an accident at some point in his boyhood, causing damage to his left hip; a mishap which left him with a limp for the rest of his life. 

Despite his poor medical condition, Joseph still managed to attend school as a regular child.

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Joseph was very close to his mother, Mary Jane Merrick; a stable figure in his early life who provided him with much needed love and affection.

Tragically, in 1873 when Joseph was 11 years old, Mary contracted pneumonia and died.

Just over a year later, Joseph’s father re-married a woman named Emma Wood Antill, and the new family moved in together.

Sadly, neither his father nor new step-mother displayed any sympathy towards the deformed child, constantly chiding him for being a burden.

Joseph himself would later describe the unhappy situation in a brief autobiography:

“The greatest misfortune of my life… the death of my mother, peace to her, she was a good mother to me. After she died my father broke up his home and went to lodgings: unfortunately for me, he married his landlady; henceforth I never had one moment’s comfort, she having children of her own, and I not being so handsome as they, together with my deformity, she was the means of making my life a perfect misery…”

As a result of these conditions, Joseph ran away from home on several occasions, but was always quickly tracked down by his father.

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At the age of 13, Joseph secured a job rolling cigars in a factory, but this employment only lasted for two years as increased swelling on his right hand made the work practically impossible.

Frustrated by his inability to earn his keep, Joseph’s father secured a hawker’s licence for his son; thus permitting him to sell items of haberdashery door to door.

However, this calling also proved unsuccessful.

Due to his increasing facial deformities, many people were horrified by Joseph’s appearance, so much so that potential customers wouldn’t even answer the door. Those who did found it difficult to understand the young salesman, as the growths around his face and mouth were having an impact on clear speech.

As he shuffled his unprofitable days around Leicester, Joseph found himself being increasingly followed and harassed by onlookers who were only too keen to stare and taunt.

Through no fault of his own therefore, Joseph Merrick was unable to maintain stable employment… and finally ended up resigning himself to that much dreaded Victorian institution- the workhouse.

Leicester Union Workhouse

On to London

Joseph remained in the Leicester Union Workhouse for four years.

As he turned 20, it began to dawn upon him there was perhaps money to be made from his deformities, via one of the more dubious Victorian pastimes- the ‘Freak Show’.

With this in mind, the young Merrick wrote to Sam Torr; a local comedian and owner of Leicester’s ‘Gladstone Music Hall’, which was situated a mere 50 yards from where Joseph had grown up.

After receiving the letter, Sam Torr visited Joseph and, upon seeing his appalling deformities, agreed that there was indeed cash to be made.

A consortium of three managers was quickly put together and it was this group who gave Joseph his now infamous pseudonym; ‘The Elephant Man.’

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In August 1884, Joseph Merrick finally departed the workhouse, his new career as a showpiece quickly taking him on tour.

During his time in the travelling show, Joseph befriended a fellow ‘freak’; Harry Bramley, who was a midget.

A rare photo of Harry Bramley; one of Joseph Merrick’s earliest friends… seen here fighting a Wallaby!

Although small in stature, Harry was a noted boxer. He was also fiercely protective of his new pal.

Apparently, on a visit to Northampton, a gang of local hooligans began to harass Joseph in the market square…. needless to say, wee Harry was on hand to promptly lay the ring leader out!

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In November 1884, ‘The Elephant Man’ was brought to London, where his management was transferred to Tom Norman; a seasoned showman in charge of a number of East-End based ‘Penny Gaffs’; cheap places of theatrical entertainment specifically aimed at the lower classes.

Tom Norman had also operated similar venues in Islington and Hammersmith.

Tom Norman

One of 18 children, Tom was a flamboyant character who knew how to keep on his toes.

Nicknamed ‘The Silver King’ (on account of the numerous medallions and American coins which he sported upon his braces), Tom was always looking for a quick way to make money. He once lost his entire life savings at Royal Ascot, forcing him to walk all the way back to London!

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The East End of London into which Joseph Merrick arrived was at the height of its Victorian notoriety; a vast slum and by-product of the booming Industrial Revolution.

Overcrowding had reached epic proportions, and this was coupled with dreadful sanitation, rampant disease, widespread, casual violence, chronic alcoholism and depressingly high rates of mortality.

A Whitechapel ‘Penny Gaff’

The East End’s infamous ‘Jack the Ripper’ murders were only four years away- indeed, Joseph Merrick was resident at the Royal London Hospital when the nearby, bloody spree occurred, and would have been very much aware of the sensation surrounding the serial killings. 

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On Show in Whitechapel

The Elephant Man was exhibited in a run-down building on Whitechapel Road.

Joseph Merrick also slept at the location, and thus came to call the place home for several months. 

The premises are still in existence today, although nowadays the building facilitates the much calmer business of selling sarees to the local Bangladeshi community. 

The building where ‘The Elephant Man’ was put on show

On the crowded pavement outside this East End building, Tom Norman would hustle for business, aided by a large, painted canvas which had been provided by Merrick’s previous managers:

Reproduction of Victorian poster advertising ‘The Elephant Man’

Tom actually found the wild slant of this advertisement rather distasteful, especially as he’d quickly noted how gentle-natured Joseph Merrick actually was.

But, for the moment it was all he had to work with, and overcame his dislike for the poster’s sentiment by putting a twist on the words; adopting the cry that the Elephant Man was here “not to frighten you… but enlighten you”

Once a large enough crowd of punters had been assembled, the showman would lead the gathered group into the shop where, towards the back, Joseph Merrick sat hidden behind a curtain.

Before revealing the Elephant Man, Tom would spin out his well-rehearsed spiel:

“Ladies and gentlemen…. I would like to introduce Mr Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man. Before doing so, I ask you please to prepare yourselves- brace yourselves up to witness one who is probably the most remarkable human being ever to draw the breath of life.”

The curtain would then be drawn aside and Joseph subjected to the stares, shrieks and gasps to which he had become so sadly accustomed.

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The freak show was situated directly opposite the Royal London- one of the largest hospitals in the UK, and the main source of treatment for the poverty-stricken East End, typically dealing with cases involving injuries from vicious machine accidents and drunken brawls. 

Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel Road entrance

At the Royal London Hospital there worked one Frederick Treves; a doctor who, at the age of 31, was already a major force in his field.

Dr Frederick Treves

A number of employees at the Royal London had ventured across the road in their spare time to witness the Elephant Man and, upon hearing their reports, Dr Treves’s instinctive medical curiosity was instantly aroused.

Contacting Tom Norman, Dr Treves arranged a private viewing one morning before the show opened up to the public.

Years later, Dr Treves recorded his blunt reaction upon first seeing the horrendously deformed young man, describing what he saw as;

“The most disgusting specimen of humanity that I had ever seen… at no time had I met with such a degraded or perverted version of a human being as this lone figure displayed.”

Dr Treves suggested that a medical examination should be carried out, and both Joseph and Tom agreed.

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Although the journey to the hospital was barely a two-minute walk, Dr Treves was able to observe the great lengths to which the Elephant Man had to go in order to convey himself in public- Joseph possessed a set of clothing which was able to cover him from head to toe; a huge, black- almost theatrical- cloak and a custom-made cap, large enough to cover the huge swellings upon his head.

Attached to the cap was a simple mask; essentially a hessian sack, which covered Joseph’s face entirely, but had a slit cut out for his eyes. His feet were swathed in large carpet slippers.

Joseph Merrick’s custom made cap and mask

In 1980,The Elephant Man; the much acclaimed film version of Joseph Merrick’s life was released in cinemas.

Directed by David Lynch and with the role of Joseph brilliantly acted by John Hurt, the film gave a very accurate portrayal of the way in which Joseph Merrick dressed; the image also being famously displayed on posters promoting the movie:

For his short trip to the Royal London Hospital, Joseph also used a cab- during his time in the city, he would in fact become a regular customer of London’s Hansom cabs thanks to the privacy which they afforded.

Horse drawn Hansom-Cab; predecessor to the modern motor Taxi

At the Royal London, Dr Treves measured and examined Joseph’s various abnormalities, also noting that the patient was “shy, confused, not a little frightened, and evidently much cowed.”

These traits, coupled with Merick’s great difficulty in speaking clearly, initially led Dr Treves to conclude that the Elephant Man was also an “imbecile”- an assumption which he would later discover to be grossly untrue.

Shortly after this examination, Joseph agreed to be presented as a living specimen to the ‘Pathological Society of London‘, which was located on Berners Street in Bloomsbury; a plush world away from the poverty-riddled East End.

Berners St today… & the Royal Pathological Society’s old building

This event was depicted in The Elephant Man film:

After several more examinations, Joseph decided to stop his visits.

According to Tom Norman, Merrick stated that he did not like being stripped naked; the process making him feel like “an animal in a cattle market.”

Despite this sentiment, he maintained Dr Treves’s calling card.

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Mainly due to the nature of his business, some historical accounts have been unkind to Joseph Merrick’s London manager, Tom Norman.

However, although the nature of the freak show business inevitably necessitated Joseph being exploited, it seems that Joseph and Tom maintained a good working relationship, each holding a mutual respect during their few months together.

Tom split all of the takings 50/50, allowing Joseph to earn more money than he’d ever done in his life.

Tom also grew rather protective of his partner. Early on in their relationship, the showman was dismayed to see that Joseph wasn’t even able to lie down and sleep properly.

This was a problem which plagued Joseph throughout his life; to lie down like a ‘normal person’ would risk death, the sheer weight of his head being liable to either suffocate him or break his neck.

Instead, he had to either prop himself up, or sleep with his head on his knees.

This unorthodox style of sleeping was demonstrated in John Hurt’s portrayal of the Elephant Man:

John Hurt as The Elephant Man

Attempting to solve this uncomfortable problem, Tom Norman employed a carpenter to construct a special frame, which it was hoped would be able support Joseph’s head whilst he slept.

Although the attempt was sadly unsuccessful, it demonstrates that an intention of care and concern was evident.

Robbed and Alone

Despite the apparent popularity of the freak shows, overall public attitudes to such displays were in fact beginning to take a turn.

Considered vulgarities, many of the shows were starting to get shut down by police, leading Tom Norman to become anxious that his ‘half-man, half-elephant’ show would be next.

Merrick’s management team therefore decided to send the exhibition to Continental Europe.

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However, once out of the UK, it transpired that freak shows abroad were also on the wane, and the Elephant Man experienced the same increasing hostility which was brewing back home.

Joseph’s show ended up in Belgium, where he was granted yet another manager. Although the identity of this individual is unknown, one thing is certain- Joseph’s new administrator was a heartless crook.

Whilst on show in Brussels, this mysterious character, realising that the Elephant Man display was losing profit, abandoned his protégé.

Even worse, he stole Joseph’s life savings; essentially all of the money which he’d earned whilst under Tom Norman’s wing. The sum- £50- was a considerable amount, equivalent to some £4,000 in today’s money.

Alone in a foreign land, unable to speak clearly- let alone in an alien language- and with no friends and no currency, Joseph was left to fend for himself, his only protection coming from huddling himself within his large cloak and mask.

Somehow managing to pawn the few items he owned, Joseph made his way to Ostend, where he attempted to board a ferry to Dover… however, the ship’s captain refused to let bedraggled figure onboard.

Joseph was now forced to make a further trek to Antwerp.

Here he had more success, managing to secure a place onboard a ferry (known as a ‘Railway Steamer’) to Harwich in Essex.

Arriving back on British soil on 24th June 1886, Joseph quickly progressed to the next stage of his journey; a connecting train ride from the port to London’s Liverpool Street station… and it was here, by now utterly demoralised, that he was about to encounter one of the most distressing events in his turbulent life…

Mobbed at Liverpool Street

The train from Harwich steamed into the huge, London terminal on a Thursday morning; rush hour. As Joseph disembarked, his mask and large cloak immediately drew attention, with people pointing and loud comments being muttered.

London Liverpool Street Station today

Like a snowball effect, the crowd grew larger, people curious to see what all of the commotion was.

Before long, Joseph was swamped with unwanted attention, cowering and terrified in the midst of it all.

He was rescued by two police officers, who barged their way through the deluge and pulled him towards the safety of a third-class waiting room.

Once inside the barren cubicle, the policemen had to barricade the doors, as the crowd continued to swell, pressing up against the windows, eager to catch a glimpse of the supposed strange creature.

By now, utterly dejected and exhausted, Joseph simply couldn’t face anymore, and collapsed in a corner of the waiting room.

In David Lean’s film, Joseph’s nightmare at Liverpool Street was a key moment and, although a dramatized version, the famous scene is an effective depiction of the mob mentality which hounded him that awful morning.

The following clip was filmed on location at Liverpool Street station itself which, in 1980, had yet to be modernised, and still retained the same Victorian aura through which Joseph himself had been pursued decades before:

The police attempted to help further, but the two kindly bobbies were unable to understand what the stranger was saying, especially as Joseph was now also suffering from bronchitis; the gasping from which did little to help his already tortured speech.

Amazingly, salvation came in the form of Dr Treves’s calling card- which, along with the small and much cherished portrait of his mother, was one of the only items Joseph had managed to cling onto during his travels across Europe.

Dr Frederick Treves’s Business Card

Seeing the name and address, the police quickly sent word to the Royal London, requesting the doctor attend.

When Dr Treves arrived at Liverpool Street, the inquisitive crowd had grown so large, that he had considerable difficulty in forcing his way through.

Upon re-discovering the Elephant Man, the doctor assured the police that he would assume full responsibility for the unfortunate fellow.

Joseph was led to a hansom cab and promptly rushed back to the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, where the next stage of his tumultuous life was about to begin.

Please click here for Part Two