Wednesday 10 April 2024

Mysterious Fires, Corpses & The Cayman Islands

July 1965 saw the very last goods train pass the site of Polbrook Gurney Colliery. The pit-head and associated buildings were demolished within 6 months of closing in 1962, with former Pedant & Armchair pub closing its doors the following year. 

If you can find the site now, little remains other than the platform lurking in the undergrowth and a boggy area which used to be the canal basin and coal wharf. But there is a newish bungalow, more on that shortly. 

A housing estate was to be built on the former colliery site, but due the the instability of the land, that’s still to happen decades later. This is unusual, for housing estates are often built in unsuitable places, with flood plains being a particular favourite, and of course above old mines with collapsing tunnels. 

For many years the former pub was rented by recluse Nasal Nigel which then become derelict after the police on a routine visit discovered his heavily decomposed corpse clutching what appeared to be a TT gauge Flying Scotsman locomotive and local legend Beryl’s nylon knickers tied very tightly around his neck. Nigel’s green rubber raincoat with special pocket saved his body from complete decomposition, making identification relatively easy, though of course there was never any chance of confusion.

After 15 years standing empty, the former pub was demolished after mysteriously catching fire, despite being disconnected from gas and electricity for many many years. But in happier times the cellar had been used as a moonshine store, so that could have something to do with the fire. 

On the site there is now a bungalow called ‘The Pedant’ as a link to the past much enjoyed by the inch high nefarious misfits and socially challenged. Until his recent departure to the Cayman Islands, Barry Bullhead from The Ministry of Misery owned the extensive bungalow, which is rumoured to have gold taps in the kitchen and several bathrooms. Not 2 taps for each sink and bath, but 3, the third one being used for moonshine dispense. Though that is just a rumour. 

But on a lighter note, a group of enthusiasts are keen to reopen part of the Dorset & Somerset Canal, and have been granted permission to clear the canal basin and 2 miles of the former canal for boat trips and model boating. But as with all projects they required extensive finance, so if you’d like to help, you can donate here

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