The ‘Peaky Blinders’ of Birmingham.

800px-Day_17_-_Peaky_BlindersRecords of the gang members and their crimes are preserved in Sparkhill’s West Midlands Police Museum.
The dank, slum streets of Birmingham are ruled by gangs made up of hundreds of youths armed with knives, razor blades and hammers.
Murders are rife. Robberies, thefts and riots are a daily occurrence at the hands of young gang members who hold the entire city in a fearful, bloody grip.
Police do their best to control the daily nightmare but are vastly outnumbered.
Their chilling nickname was derived from the razor blades carefully stitched into the front of their caps which could be used to blind their victims.
From as early as the 1870s, inner-city Birmingham streets were filled with overcrowded slums and extreme poverty – and the lure of crime was a pull for some.
It soon led to an eruption of gangs and violence across the city.
Battles to “own” areas such as Small Heath and Cheapside broke out. These saw hundreds of youths fighting – sometimes to the death – in mass brawls that lasted for hours.
The most prominent – and ruthless – of these early gangs were known as the Sloggers, or the Cheapside Slogging Gang.
For 30 years they ruled the city’s streets with protection rackets and violence.
Led by John Adrian, and his trusted lieutenant James Grinrod, they began their reign of terror in about 1870.
Their weapon of choice was a heavy-buckled belt used to pummel male and female victims of all ages into submission.
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Image caption: The Garrison Lane slums were home to Henry Lightfoot; one of the first to be referred to as a “Peaky Blinder”
An 1872 Birmingham Mail report records a typical example of the Sloggers’ antics.
It states how “400 roughs brought indiscriminate violence to the Cheapside area, attacking and stealing”.
Source: Birmingham’s real Peaky Blinders – BBC News

The London Guide to Cheats and Swindlers, 1819.

londonguidestran00lond_0005A comprehensive guide to help the unwitting visitor avoid falling victim to the various and nefarious crimes abound in early 19th-century London.
Written by “a gentleman who has made the police of the metropolis an object of enquiry for twenty-two years”, the book is split into six main chapters:
“Out Door Delinquencies”, “Inn Door Tricks”, “Miscellaneous Offences”, “House-Breakers”, “Minor Cheats”, and “Of Conspirators and Informers”, containing within them a multitude of sub-chapters including the rather wonderfully titled offences of “Smashing”, “Greeks and Legs”, “Private Stills”, “Bon Ton”, “Box Lobby”, and “Pretenders to Literature”.
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via The London Guide and Stranger’s Safeguard against the Cheats, Swindlers, and Pickpockets (1819) | The Public Domain Review.

Flambard Escapes White Tower Prison.

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A visual Impression of what Ranulf Flambard could have looked like.
Ranulf Flambard, chief tax-collector, was imprisoned under King Henry I. He was the Tower of London’s first prisoner and also became its first escapee.
Flambard had made himself unpopular doing King William Rufus’s dirty work, collecting large taxes and becoming very rich.
When William died, his brother Henry I accused the Bishop of extortion and sent him to the White Tower in chains.
Flambard used the cover of the feast of Candlemas to make a bold escape.
He had a rope smuggled to him in a gallon of wine. He invited his guards to join him for a great banquet. When they were completely drunk and snoring soundly, he seized his chance.
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The White Tower of London.
He tied the rope to a column which stood in the middle of a window and, holding his Bishop’s staff, he climbed down the rope.
At the foot of the tower, his friends had horses ready and he galloped off to safety.
Read more via Ranulf Flambard’s Incredible Escape From The White Tower’s Prison.

Billy the Kid, Outlaw.

(1859-81) The American outlaw, born Henry McCarty, killed eight people before being shot dead at the age of 21.
This new photo of the criminal (second from the left) playing cards, which is said to be only the second in existence of him, is being auctioned in Dallas, Texas and is expected to sell for $1m (£770,000).

Bonnie and Clyde Barrow, photos by W.D. Jones, 1933.

Photos of the Real Bonnie and Clyde of the Notorious Barrow Gang Photographed by W.D. Jones, 1933
Bonnie and Clyde met in Texas in January, 1930. At the time, Bonnie was 19 and married to an imprisoned murderer; Clyde was 21 and unmarried.
Soon after, he was arrested for a burglary and sent to jail. He escaped, using a gun Bonnie had smuggled to him, was recaptured and was sent back to prison.
Clyde was paroled in February 1932, rejoined Bonnie, and resumed a life of crime.
In addition to the automobile theft charge, Bonnie and Clyde were suspects in other crimes in several states. At the time they were killed on 23 May 1934, they were believed to have committed 13 murders, kidnappings, several robberies and burglaries.
These pictures were from undeveloped film found at their Joplin, Missouri hideout taken by W.D. Jones, also a member of the Barrow Gang.
They left the hideout and many possessions behind after a shootout with the police, which resulted in the death of 2 police officers.
Source: Photos of the Real Bonnie and Clyde of the Notorious Barrow Gang Photographed by W.D. Jones, 1933 ~ vintage everyday

The Knife Angel, Middlesborough town centre.

Middlesbrough, England
The Knife Angel is installed in the town’s Centre Square.
The 8m tall sculpture will stand for four weeks as a reminder of the devastation caused by knife crime.
It was created by The British Ironwork Centre and is made from more than 100,000 discarded knives and weapons confiscated by police across the country..
Image Credit: Photograph by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images
Source: The 20 photographs of the week | Art and design | The Guardian

The Men who Inspired Sherlock Holmes.

tumblr_m6sdwxsAnb1qkgkowo1_500The inspiration for the character of Sherlock Holmes.
Doyle said that the character of Sherlock Holmes was inspired by Dr. Joseph Bell, a surgeon at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh for whom Doyle had worked as a clerk.
Like Holmes, Bell was noted for drawing large conclusions from the smallest observations.
However, some years later Bell wrote in a letter to Conan Doyle: “You (meaning Conan Doyle) are yourself Sherlock Holmes and well you know it.”
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Sir Henry Littlejohn, Chair of Medical Jurisprudence at the University of Edinburgh Medical School, is also cited as an inspiration for Holmes. Littlejohn served as Police Surgeon and Medical Officer of Health of Edinburgh, providing for Doyle a link between medical investigation and the detection of crime.
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via Sherlock Holmes.

How Billy the Kid Really Died, 1881.

William Henry McCarty Jr., aka Billy the Kid, born in 1859, was killed in an ambush by Sheriff Pat Garrett in Fort Sumner, New Mexico, in 1881.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Sheriff Pat Garrett would later claim that on the night he shot down Billy the Kid, the notorious outlaw was holding a gun.
But the account Garrett gave of that night in his biography of Billy the Kid is odd, to say the least.
The date was July 14, 1881, and Billy had been a fugitive for months. Acting on a tip, Garrett had tracked Billy to Fort Sumner, New Mexico and entered the home of his acquaintance Peter Maxwell. Garrett found Maxwell asleep.
The sheriff sat down on the bed, roused Maxwell and asked him the whereabouts of Billy. Remarkably, at that precise moment a shadowy figure entered the room, having nearly stepped on Garrett’s two assistants who were lurking outside the door. It was Billy.
He was carrying a butcher’s knife and, allegedly, a gun. The knife was intended for carving a hunk of meat from a yearling Maxwell had recently butchered. You see, Billy was feeling peckish and in need of sustenance and had ventured over to Maxwell’s to secure the meat in question.
As Billy entered the dark room and moved to the head of the bed to speak with Maxwell, his eyes adjusted enough to note the presence of Garrett who was still sitting next to the supine Maxwell on the bed.
Billy jumped back nervously, aiming his gun at Garrett and saying in Spanish, “¿Quien es? ¿Quien es?” (Who is it? Who is it?) They were the last words Billy the Kid ever spoke.
Maxwell helpfully informed Garrett that this new visitor was none other than Billy the Kid, whispering, “That’s him.” Garrett drew his gun and fired.
Billy fell, struggled to breathe for a few moments, then expired. Garrett claimed Billy was 21 at the time but nobody knows for sure if that’s true.
He might have been as young as 19.
Continue reading via Source: How Billy the Kid Really Died | HowStuffWorks

Paul Newman and Robert Redford ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is an American Western film directed by George Roy Hill and written by William Goldman.
It was the top-grossing film of its year and top 10 for its decade, though initially received lukewarm reviews from critics.
The film was nominated for total seven Oscar categories and won four for Best Cinematography, Best Original Score for a Motion Picture (not a Musical), Best Music, Song and Best Original Screenplay at the 42nd Academy Awards.
The story is loosely based on two Wild West criminal outlaws Robert LeRoy Parker, known as Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman), and his partner Harry Alonzo Longabaugh, the “Sundance Kid” (Robert Redford).
Butch was the brains and leader of the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang, while his closest companion Sundance preferred action and skill.
After their second robbery on the same train, Butch and Sundance began to get pursued by a special posse.
With their persistent track, Butch convinced Sundance and Etta (Katharine Ross), the latter’s lover, that they should escape to Bolivia, which was a paradise for robber according to Butch’s visions.
Source: The Iconic Western Duo: Paul Newman and Robert Redford in the 1969 Crime Drama ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ ~ vintage everyday

William Tyndale, died translating the Bible into English, 1536.

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The execution of William Tyndale, who translated most of the Old Testament into English, in 1536. ‘It was the translation of the Bible into the vernacular, a project at the heart of the Reformation, that opened up the stories of the Hebrew scriptures to ordinary people,’ writes Giles Fraser.
Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images
William Tyndale was born around 1494 in Gloucestershire and educated at Oxford and Cambridge University where he became a strong supporter of church reform.
He was ordained as a priest in around 1521 and returned to Gloucestershire to serve as a chaplain to a member of the local gentry. Tyndale’s controversial opinions began to attract the attention of the church authorities.
An English Bible
In 1523, Tyndale moved to London with the intention of translating the New Testament into English, an act that was strictly forbidden. He passionately believed that the Bible should determine the practice and doctrine of the Church and that people should be able to read the Bible in their own language.
Tyndale was setting himself against the established Church in England as these sorts of ideas were closely associated with Martin Luther and other controversial Protestant religious reformers.
In 1524, Tyndale left England for Germany with the aid of London merchants. He hoped to continue his translation work in greater safety and sought out the help of Martin Luther at Wittenberg.
Just one year after his English New Testament was completed and printed in Cologne in 1525, copies were being smuggled into England – the first ever Bibles written in the English vernacular.
In hiding
Tyndale’s work was denounced by authorities of the Roman Catholic Church and Tyndale himself was accused of heresy. He went into hiding and began work on a translation of the Old Testament directly from Hebrew into English.
The emissaries of the King Henry VIII and Cardinal Thomas Wolsey were unable to track him down and the location of Tyndale’s hiding place remains a mystery to this day.
Henry VIII’s break with the Catholic Church in 1534 signalled the beginning of the English Reformation, and Tyndale believed it was safe to carry on his work in public.
He moved to Antwerp (in modern Belgium) and began to live more openly.
Betrayal
Soon afterwards Tyndale was betrayed by his friend Henry Phillips. He was arrested for heresy by imperial authorities and imprisoned for over 500 days in Vilvoorde Castle.
On 6 October 1536, Tyndale was tried and convicted of heresy and treason and put to death by being strangled and burned at the stake.
By this time several thousand copies of his New Testament had been printed.It was reported that Tyndale’s last words before his death were “Lord, open the king of England’s eyes.” Just three years later Henry VIII published his English “Great Bible” based on Tyndale’s work.
Even though Tyndale’s translation of the Old Testament remained unfinished at his death, his work formed the basis of all subsequent English translations of the Bible, including the ‘King James’ version of 1611.
Source: BBC History – William Tyndale