Memories

Arthur Harding seen through the eyes of Arthur’s granddaughter, Diane Rowbury

Diane Rowbury kindly came in to the Bishopsgate institute and in a taped interview, described her memories of Arthur.

Arthur was remembered as a well-mannered, jovial, kind-natured man who always had his dog by his side. He was quite a strong character, always willing to stand his ground when he thought himself to be in the right. He brought his family up very fearful of authority and demonstrated his desire not to see his children follow the same paths as he did in life. None of them ended up pursuing a career in crime.

Despite his old age, he showed fantastic levels of concentration and focus when writing his autobiographies. Even in to his nineties he retained his feistiness and remained mentally and physically strong, loosing only one tooth in his life due to an indulgence in toffees. 

Many lessons can be drawn from Arthur's life. His 'criminal apprenticeship' may help us to understand some of the factors which contribute to criminal activity, such as deprivation, inequality or an unforgiving legal system. Arthur's life can also provide an insight into criminal activity from 'the criminal's' point of view, rather than from the point of view of the police or media. 

Overall, this may help us to realise the errors made regarding crime in our society in the present day and may enable us to better understand the social causes of crime, and the consequences of poverty.

Arthur's granddaughter didn't know the existence of the Name 'Harding' until after Raphael Samuel's book came into print, as in later years Arthur scrapped the name Harding and reverted back to his birth name Tresadern. Throughout his life it appeared he had two names, the most commonly used being Harding. This name developed at least two generations before Arthur, possibly as his grandfather had difficulties with the name's pronunciation. 'Tresadern' originated in Cornwall and didn't translate very well into the more South-Eastern accents. Arthur believed 'Harding' may have come from the second part of Tresadern, the 'Adern' slowly developing into 'Harding'.  

For whatever reason, Arthur grew up using Harding as his surname. In later years, he may have seen Harding as synonymous with his life as part of the East End underworld to which he was trying so hard to escape, and reverted back to his real name in order to distance himself for good.

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