Tank Cottage in Bassaleg was a small property dominated by a large water tank in the front garden. It was the home of Charles and Mary Thomas. He was 82 and she was ten years younger. They had lived on the Tredegar Estate in Newport, where Charles had been a wood cutter but finally, just two weeks earlier, he had finally retired and they had been given use of Tank Cottage.
On Thursday 11 November 1909 they retired to bed, early as usual. But their neighbours didn’t see them at all on Friday and became alarmed. Mary hadn’t turned up to go shopping in Newport with a friend, as was her habit. So Constable Bale was called and he found a terrible scene when he went upstairs. Charles and Mary were dead in bed, their heads beaten with a heavy blunt instrument until they were almost unrecognisable. Blood was splattered everywhere. It had been a brutal assault on a benign, elderly couple.
The awful story of Tank Cottage features in my new book, Grave Tales of Wales, which was published by Cambria in July 2021. The book explores the stories represented by thirty gravestones from across the whole of Wales, from Anglesey to Cardiff, from Llangrannog to Newport.
The stories are about the surprising lives of the people who still lie beneath those stones, who still lie beneath your feet, and who still have something to say.
There are stories of anguish and sorrow, stories of courage and achievement and these tales from the past that can still speak to us today. There are great events here – the Titanic, the sinking of The Royal Charter, the execution of a King, the exploration of the Antarctic – but there are also terrible murders and tragic deaths.
Through these graves you can explore fascinating and sometimes unexpected stories from Welsh History
The book is 190 pages long and is illustrated throughout with full colour photographs
Find out more by looking for Grave Tales From Wales in the menu or by following this link
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