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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

A Webley RICIn 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 inevitably occurred.

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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