After the underworld, there was a kind of void in Arthur’s life where excitement
and adrenalin-pumped gangland action had once stood. This frequently drew him
back into menacing behaviour at the racetracks and may have led him to his role
as a leader of a group of strikebreakers in the General Strike of 1926. He hired
a crew of mainly Irish, very tough men who scared the dockers back into work.
In the ‘hungry thirties’ plenty of houses had dusty old gold jewellry knocking
about which was worth a lot of money. Arthur decided to travel the country making
a living from it, assessing the value there and then, and offering a price which
was often very dishonest, especially if the seller wasn’t very clued up. The period
was so prosperous for Arthur that he bought a house in Leyton and moved out of
the East End for good.
The Second World War saw Arthur as a warden and wardrobe dealer. His mother was
bombed out of Gibraltar Cottages, moved just round the corner and died soon after.
His sister couldn’t face living in the same house and so Arthur bought a shop
at 250 Brick Lane and let his sister live upstairs. He also did a good trade in
buying and selling stolen clothing coupons used for rationing, and earned enough
to pay off his mortgage. Find out more
In the 1950s Arthur was an associate of Oswald Mosley and the BUF (British Union of Fascists), though he never wore the black shirt that so many
of his followers did. The whole Mosley crowd called him ‘Uncle’, including Mosley
himself at one stage. He joined because of want for excitement without getting
mixed up in criminality and was, in his own opinion, ‘certainly no racist’, believing
firmly that each human being is fundamentally the same as another.
The years after Arthur’s retreat from the underworld were long and fruitful.
He had six children in total and stayed with his adored wife for 43 years until
she died in 1967. Arthur died an old man in 1981 at the age of 95, just a few
months after he saw Raphael Samuel’s book ‘East End Underworld’ about the his
life come into print.
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