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The Cauliflower, Ilford

The Cauliflower at 553 High Road, Ilford, is a popular live music venue and whilst Deryck Jones was the landlord it had a reputation of being haunted, with the case being written about in The Publican’ and ‘The Haunted Pub Guide’ (Guy Lyon Playfair 1985). The date the Cauliflower was built is unknown, but in 1897 plans were made to make the pub into a hotel. The Cauliflower Hotel opened in 1900 and the building was described as being “probably one of the finest this side of London and is on a par with similar buildings in the West End.”

As for the haunting, the experiences seem to have been restricted to the cellar with taps being turned on and off, holes being created in beer lines and some crates and gas cylinders being moved. A Spiritualist Medium named Florence Thompson apparently contacted the ghost identifying it as a girl named Kathy, who’s friends had been in a gang and hiding from the authorities when they died in a sluice. It was speculated that by turning off the taps, Kathy was in some way trying to save her friends. After the psychic’s exorcism the haunting experiences were said to cease. I do not know if any evidence to support the psychics information concerning the existence of Kathy or her drowned criminal friends was ever found.

An interesting piece of social history concerning the Cauliflower and a tragic drowning was highlighted in an article in the Ilford Graphic entitled ‘Ilford Passengers on the Titanic’ and was dated 19 April 1912. ‘On April 2nd last, Mr and Mrs Ben Hart were present at the "Cauliflower" in their honour prior to their departure for Canada. During the evening they were the recipients of a beautiful Illuminated Address which included the following words, "And may the Almighty Jehovah send you safe voyage and a prosperous career in the land of your adoption." Mr Hart was a Jew, and the introduction of the word "Jehovah" into the Address touched him very much. His emotions were easily aroused and he could barely respond with the tears swimming in his eyes. We see from the papers that Mrs Esther Hart and Miss Eva Hart are among the saved, but there is no mention made of Mr Hart, and we fear the worst.’

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