Mckenzie’s soul lies above the ground
In that pyramid near Maryland
After we’d visited the Hardmans’ house we walked a short distance down Rodney Street to the former church of St Andrews. We wanted to take a look at a monument in the graveyard that features in a well known tale told in Liverpool.
A pyramid stands over the tomb of a certain William McKenzie. He was a “self made man”, born in Nelson, Lancashire, who, after initially working has a weaver, became a civil engineer and became a successful contractor in the canal and railway industries, which developed rapidly in the 19th Century. He eventually moved to Liverpool where he lived in Grove Street, which I know very well as this is where the University of Liverpool Chemistry building is located!
He is supposed to have been an inveterate gambler, who bet and lost his soul in a game of poker with the Devil. The local legend is that he is sat upright in the tomb at a table with a winning hand of cards in his hand, thereby, not being buried, depriving Old Nick of his soul. However, his unusual entombment also prevents him entering heaven, so his ghost is said to prowl Rodney Street at night.
An interesting story but one that cannot be true (even if you believe in heaven and hell). McKenzie died and was buried in 1851 but the pyramid was only erected 16 years later by his brother.
Despite this, the legend persists, and is even mentioned in the first two lines of a song Does this train stop on Merseyside by local band, Amsterdam.
It’s also been recorded by the well known Irish Folk singer, Christy Moore
Which version do you prefer?