You may be familiar with the  story of Finn MacCool, well this story relates to another giant  which was discovered in London's Broad Street railway depot in 1895 and which appeared in the Illustrated ‘Strand Magazine’. In an article focusing on the Lost Property Office of the London and North-Western Railway Company, they discovered that the company had in its possession a giant with a court injunction against its removal.  The story takes place in the mid 1870s, a time when the world was still being discovered and curios from various parts of the world were being brought back to Europe and exhibited to the general public as curiosities, it was also the time people were hearing about petrified bodies and fossils.

 

The story centres around three characters Guiseppe Sala, John Dyer and Edward Ford,  all three had travelled from America to England in 1875 after an abortive scam.  Sala was paid to come along for his expertise, he was a monumental sculptor who had carved statues on the Clock Tower in Buffalo New Jersey.   After another abortive scam in London involving a petrified body they moved  to Ireland and hatched a plan to create something which would make them plenty of money.

 

In May 1876, Sala carved a giant figure out of stone (limestone or sandstone) at Greenisland, this was then transported  to a farm near the Giant’s Causeway where it was stored until the plan was carried out.  Dyer revealed locally that he had come to the area with information that would lead him to discover the petrified body of the giant that built the Giant’s Causeway. To add creedence to his story he set about undertaking several local expedition in local bogs but nothing was found, as this was part of the ploy.  The giant which Sala had created was 12 feet 2 inches tall, the chest measured 6 feet 6 inches, the arms were 4 feet 6 inches long and for curiosity one foot had six toes. The overall weight was over two tons, the giant figure  was placed in a coffin like wooden structure which it was transported in.

 

In late June 1876 Dyer announced locally that he had found the petrified body of a giant which he believed was the giant Finn Mac Cool who had built the Giant’s Causeway. This news create a big stir locally and a groundswell of interested people wanted to see the body.  Dyer then exhibited it locally which attracted hundreds of people, after this he took it to Dublin, then to Liverpool and Manchester.  He was making a tidy sum of money charging sixpence per head to see the ‘Petrified Body’ of the giant Finn MacCool. He then took a  partner named Kershaw who invested in the enterprise but the two had some kind of disagreement which resulted in Dyer shipping the giant to London by train.  While at the Broad Street Railway Depot of the London & North-Western Railway Company awaiting collection by Dyer, Kershaw took out an injuction preventing the removal of the giant until the legal ownership was settled. The story came to light when the 'Strand Magazine' published an article on Lost Luggage in 1895.  It was stated that the bill for storage was £138, a  colossal figure for 1895, plus carriage costs and £60 legal fees incurred by the company.  The case was never settled, Kershaw and Dyer both died and the giant remained with the Railway Company. Nearly forty years later in 1935 the company tried to find descendants of Kershaw or Dyer to claim the giant and pay a charge of £2,000 for its release.

 

Others suggested that the authorities had become suspicious about the authenticity of the 'petrified body' and suspected a scam, so the two partners fled the scene.  Anyway, no-one came forward to claim the giant and it was eventually used to fill in a bomb crater in London during the Second World War.