Bristol Bloodbath: Six Spooky Sites You’ve Walked Past
Jess Connett seeks out some of Bristol’s darkest true stories, and reveals some gruesome deaths in the heart of the city.
Brains in the Popcorn – odeon cinema, union street
On 29th May 1946, five shots rang out in the Odeon cinema. Four were from the film playing to a full house in the main auditorium. The fifth came from inside the manager’s office.
The manager, Mr. Jackson, was found dying by cinema staff, who frantically called the police while the public laughed at the film on the other side of the wall. Detectives found nothing and the case was officially never solved – though in 1993, whilst on his deathbed, a Welsh crook named Billy Fisher confessed to murdering Jackson during a robbery that went wrong. The manager came back early, and – surprised – the armed robber fired, splattering Mr Jackson’s brains amongst the popcorn.
Commuting is a Killer – platform 5, temple meads station
On a cold morning in October, 1917, the train to London approached busy Platform 5 at Bristol Temple Meads. Amongst the crowd, a soldier in uniform was having a loud argument with a woman.
Through her tears, Bessie told Private Albert Cross that she was pregnant by another man. With calm, precise movements, he reached for his gun and aimed it at her swollen belly. There was the crack of gunfire – and the conductor stepped off the train to see a woman, slumped and bleeding, at the feet of the soldier. ‘I have shot my wife,’ he told the police as he was dragged away from the blood-stained platform to be charged with her murder.
All at Sea – The hole in the wall, queen square
In the 1700s, The Hole in the Wall was frequented by murderous gangs who washed in with the tide. They would sit in the pub and ply unsuspecting Bristolians with booze until they passed out, then kidnap them, drag them on to their boat and set sail.
When the hangover set in the next morning, these unlucky sailors would find themselves on the open water, wearing the uniform of the Royal Navy. Unable to get off the boat, which was bound for far-away slave ports in Africa, the sailors often went mad – or were murdered by the mutinous slaves on the way home to Bristol.
Hung out to Dry – Bristol New Gaol, Cumberland Road
The only part of Bristol’s New Gaol that survives is its gatehouse, where unfortunate inmates were hung by the neck for their heinous crimes. The last person to be killed there was a 17-year-old girl.
Harriet Thomas, a poor serving girl, was convicted in 1849 of the violent murder of her employer. She was sentenced to death, and dragged to the gallows screaming and pleading for her life. The waiting crowd crossed themselves, and even the prison governor fainted away. After her body was cut down, the feeling of the crowd turned to repulsion, and letters were written to stop the public hangings. The prison was closed and left to rot, like the bodies of those who met a grisly end above the gatehouse.
Dead in the Water – bristol harbour, welsh back
The water in the docks around Welsh Back is almost 14 feet deep and infested with rats. It wouldn’t be nice water to drown in – but luckily for Mark Yendell, he was dead before he hit the water.
In 1984, a police car rolled along Welsh Back and stopped to investigate an illegally parked car. There was no sign of anyone around, but while peering through the windows, the officer spotted bloodstains all over the driver’s seat. Following a trail of blood drops to the edge of the harbour, divers were called and eventually a man’s body was recovered. It was identified as Mr. Yendall. He had received massive head injuries and been strangled before he hit the water. His brutal murder has never been solved, and his killer(s) may still walk the streets of Bristol with the rest of us.
Under the Skin – Hatchet Inn, frogmore street
The Hatchet claims to be the oldest pub in Bristol, dating from 1606. Over that time, it’s had a long and chequered past. Like many other old Bristol pubs (especially the Llandoger Trow and King William Ale House) it is reportedly haunted.
But the strangest thing about the Hatchet Inn actually lies on the outside of the building. As you push open the big, black front door, you might feel something a little odd, that makes the hairs on the back of your neck prickle. For underneath the layers of paint and tar, if you were to peel them back, you would find, stretched thin and stiff with age, that the door is made from human skin, with its own hairs rising as you brush past.
Know any other ghostly spots in Bristol that Jess missed? Had any supernatural experiences? Tell @RifeMag your most hair-raising ghost stories…just don’t have nightmares!
Support more young people to have their voices heard
Rife is Watershed‘s online magazine created for young people, by young people.
We offer paid internships and publish work by young writers, photographers, illustrators, and filmmakers from all sorts of backgrounds, helping them get into creative careers. Rife has reached over 8,000 young people through our workshops, over 220 young people have made stuff for Rife on topics ranging from mental health to identity to baked beans, and last year, over 200,000 people visited our website.
In these complex and uncertain times hearing from and supporting young people who are advocating for social change and contributing fresh perspectives has never been so important.
Through supporting Rife you can ensure that this important work continues and that more young people have their voices heard.