St Woolos Cemetery - The Haunted Holy Ground

From the book "The Haunted Holy Ground" by Mike Buckingham and Richard Frame published in 1988.

About the Authors






A Tippler's Terrible Death

By Mike Buckingham and Richard Frame
First published 1988

© Mike Buckingham and Richard Frame 2012

It is generally accepted that one should not take a drink before noon. When, 111 years ago Edward Granville broke this golden rule it led very shortly afterwards to his interment in the family plot hard by the Roman Catholic chapel.

Granville was a cellarman at the Tredegar Arms, the popular public house which is still a feature of Newport’s dockland and the place where on the morning of September 15,1877 he took his last, fatal tipple.

On that morning Granville followed his employer into the cellar to help change the barrels. Tempted by an open bottle which he had spotted he took a long pull. We can only surmise that the label saying “poison - carbolic acid” had been facing the cellar wall.

At the inquest which followed Granville’s agonising death the landlord, a Mr Kelly, testified that shortly after he and Granville went into the cellar he was called away to give the drayman his order for more stocks of beer. He returned to find his cellarman hastily replacing the bottle having apparently taken a furtive drink.

Without a word Granville walked out of the cellar and began talking to a Mr Gatehouse to whom he was overheard to remark: “I have been drinking something hot.”

Mr Kelly who had by this time joined the pair asked Granville where he had found the drink and got the reply that it had been in a black bottle.

All this time the carbolic acid was doing its corrosive work. Granville took a long drink of water but shortly after that fell down unconscious. He was taken from the cellar and laid in the pub’s back yard. A few minutes after this Dr Brizzel arrived and administered olive oil, milk and eggs but to no avail. Within two hours Granville was dead.

Two days later a post mortem was held on the body of Granville, who in life had dwelt at 21 Jeddo Street, Newport only a minute’s walk from the pub.

There were no outward signs of the injuries Granville had suffered. But when first the throat and then the stomach was removed during the post mortem a teacupful of the deadly carbolic acid was found - many times the fatal amount.

As if the terrible death of Granville had not brought enough to trouble Mr Kelly the rumour soon got round that he had been using {jig carbolic acid to dilute the beer.

In fact Mr Kelly had used the acid to disinfect his drains. Church Street is in Pill, a part of Newport that was once marshland but which was gradually reclaimed by the simple expedient of ships dumping their ballast and gradually consolidating the marsh.

Huge sewerage pipes had been laid under Pill but occasional tides would wash the sewage back up them, hence the need for disinfectant.

Even today where these old pipes are still in use certain tides can cause very real problems.

When the original Tredegar Arms was demolished and the current building erected on its site in 1906 one would have thought the last lingering memory of Granville’s death would be erased. But as Tom Young, landlord for three years until the end of 1987 will confirm, strange events still centre on that part of the cellar which dates back before the 1870s.

“I’m not a superstitious sort of a man and I don’t automatically believe all the things I’m told, but there are strange things about the TA which defy all explanation,” he told us when we visited him at home in Milman Street, Pill.

“On a couple of occasions the gas bottle connected up to the beer turned themselves off, really tight. There was no way anybody could have got down there to tamper with them because there was only one key and it was hanging from my wife’s belt.”

“And there was something else which happened to my wife while I was in America.”

“She had locked up for the night and had just turned off the lights in the cellar when they came straight back on. There was no rational explanation for this.”

“We also had instances of the icemaking machine turning itself off despite the fact that you had to clamber over and reach down behind it to reach the button and there was no way it could have happened accidentally.”

"Just before we took over, the pub was closed for a bit. A group of dockers were looking the place over with a view to taking it over as a club.”

Three went down into the cellar and I was at the top of the steps when the three come bursting out of there obviously very frightened. They just fled from the place in panic swearing never to return.

“And then I had trouble with the dogs. I had a scrapyard down by the Octopus Bridge and a couple of healthy, strapping alsatians to look after it at nights. I was building some kennels for them and decided to put them down in the cellar at nights.”

“I had to virtually drag them down there and after one night I was sorry I had.”

“The next morning the dogs were trembling with nerves. There is no way of knowing what they saw.