News reports of street violence, perpetrated by those described as ‘callous, mindless thugs’ shock and disturb all decent people. But it was ever thus in Victorian England, and nowhere more than on the dark, narrow, cobbled streets and dockland haunts of Liverpool. Violent street gangs had been in existence in the Town since the mid-19th Century, Some would go on the attack for sectarian or racist reasons’; some for the purposes of robbery; and others simply for the pleasure they derived from inflicting brutality and violence on completely innocent people. Violence was often then as it is now, drink related, report from 1874, listed 1,929 pubs, 384 beer houses, and 272 off-licences, just in the centre of the Town. Crowds of thugs known as 'Cornermen' would loiter outside the doorways to pubs, and intimidate passers-by into handing over the price of a pint. If you did not pay-up, the least you would get was a beating.


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