A Life of Crime - Making a Living
Soon after emerging from his two terms at Borstal, Arthur began to hang around
Clark’s Coffee Shop again. This time he was the leader of all his age. In Arthur’s
words “you could say the older boys were the first eleven team, and me and my
pals were the second”.
Thieving was Arthur’s main income for the next few years, though generally he
was the leader and the lookout, rarely being the one that did the actual thieving.
Arthur and his contemporaries worked Brick Lane and Whitechapel Road, and also
traveled far and wide throughout the country, pick-pocketing people at country
fairs and local markets. Find out more
Cabinet making was the sole legal channel Arthur pursued, and this was only for
a short while. Find out more
In 1909, Arthur turned 23, and many of his boys moved away from thieving and
onto living off women, becoming what the Jews called ‘shundicknics’, now known
as pimps. Find out more Arthur went in for snide-pinching (counterfeiting coins), buying up forged currency
from skilled but secretive craftsmen and then traveling the country, changing
it all up. Find out more
In 1910 Arthur and his contemporaries used to conduct armed raids on 'spielers'
(Jewish social clubs). First they'd knock the bouncer unconscious and then wave
their guns in the air to declare they really meant business. None of the Jews
ever started trouble, but Arthur eventually had to stop in case some of the gang
got too trigger-happy. These acts, which yielded little financial reward considering
the risks, ensured the gangs reputation for toughness for years to come.
A Webley RIC (Royal Irish Constabulary) revolver. A very common gun for criminals
to possess and very easily obtainable. (above)
Brick Lane and the racecourses were the backdrops to which the majority of gang interaction
unfolded. Arthur was so well known that bookies at the races would pay him simply
for good measure, knowing he would protect them. Of course, he wasn't the only
hard man making his living this way, so territorial rivalry and tit-for-tat shootings
One end of Brick Lane was run by Ikey 'The Coon' Bogard, and the other was dominated by Arthur and his boys. When other key players
came in and tried to get stall holders to cough up some money, Arthur or Ikey
would pursue and protect their territory and to some extent, their investment.
A Brick Lane shop owner has given a fantastic account of the way the gang operated.
Continue to 'A Life of Crime': Arthur and the Vendettas'>>
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