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    Default The Gangs of Liverpool



    THE Tory leader David Cameron's view that we should all "hug a hoodie" instead of reviling those dressed in such fashions, strikes a chord with historical writer Michael Macilwee.

    As the author of a new book called The Gangs of Liverpool, dealing with ne'er-do-wells of the late Victorian era, Michael believes that the debate about street crime has barely moved on.

    The familiarity of the arguments are both reassuring, that in one sense previous societies faced the same battles, and depressing, in that we have been unable to resolve such appalling behaviour.

    "One thing deeply struck me while researching the reaction to the muggings and gang rampaging by the press and public is that in some ways nothing has changed," says Michael, from West Derby.

    "The debate gets polarised into those who think the answer is more youth clubs, better education and housing, versus those who think that the solution is more police and tougher sentences. We seem to be no closer to resolving the situation of street crime than they were back then when these crimes were played out in the 1880s.

    "The Liverpool grandee William Henry Picton started the Gordon Works Institute and I've helped run a boxing club in Huyton, many of which were set up as a way of channelling young male energy in a socially acceptable way.

    "David Cameron's advice to 'hug a hoodie' instead of despising them has its parallels back in 1874 when outraged middle class readers of the Daily Post were writing of the need to meet the Cornermen gang members, buy them a loaf of bread and reason with them, or build new housing for this underclass.

    "Among the judiciary, Justice Day was known as the 'flogging judge', but Recorder Hopwood QC was regarded as too lenient. Arguments raged over what was the most effective deterrent: harder sentences or softer options." Such was the dichotomy that there was even a rhyme about the two men set to the tune of Marie Lloyd's music hall hit "Oh, Mr Porter".

    Michael, 46, who works as a library cataloguer at Liverpool John Moores University, had long been fascinated by a tragic attack that occurred in the road where he once worked, Tithebarn Street.

    "I work over the road from where this murder happened. I started researching the circumstances, getting drawn further and further into the story. It eventually culminated in this book," says Michael.


    The story, soon labelled the "Tithebarn Street Outrage", concerns a couple, Richard and Alice Morgan who on the 1874 August Bank Holiday were suddenly attacked by street thugs.

    "This was a first. As far as I can tell, it was a unique incident for strangers to be set upon by people they didn't know," says Michael, who has an MA in Victorian literature. "It happened in daylight, on a major city street, not up a back alley in the dark. People were watching and it was a real shock, now as then, to learn that many were encouraging the attack and others joined in with this appalling violence.

    "There was a question about whether the incident was to do with gangs. These were poor people from terrible housing conditions who used to hang round street corners.

    "The victims were also poor, but respectable. The whole thing turned on the continuing influx of Irish. There was criticism that these Irish immigrants were perpetuating the lawless lifestyle through big families which bred uncontrollable youngsters.

    "The newspapers were saying we ought to keep tighter control of immigration, though doubtless the many of these Irish found themselves in a brutalised state by the circumstances they had and were enduring.

    "Most murders are committed between people who know each other, a concept which was also accepted back in Victorian times. The idea of strangers beating each other up for no reason was an outrage unheard of, and for years later the newspapers kept referring back to Richard Morgan's death on Tithebarn Street."

    It would appear the Morgan murder was caused by a loosely-related group of youths, whereas more sinister organised gangs started to appear in Liverpool about a decade later.

    From the street gangs came the Hibernians, Dead Rabbits and Cornermen, often fuelled by sectarian religious intolerance.

    Most infamous was the High Rip gang, who stabbed a sailor to death, in 1884. This gang was supposed to be organised and that caused an extra fear for the law-abiding citizens of Liverpool.

    "There were small organised groups with their own codes and hand signals and an oath, but such was the public obsession with the High Rip Gang that at one point, every violent crime seemed to be attributed to them," says Michael.

    "Newspapers, led by the Daily Post, couldn't publish enough bloodthirsty tales of the gang. Typical headlines included 'High Rip Terrorism', 'High Ripping in Marybone' and 'The High Rip Outrage at Aintree'."

    The Aintree "outrage" was the frightening sight of 150 - 200 High Rippers marching up to Walton Prison hoping to kick a "grasser" to death.

    "The gang consisted of youngish lads between 15 and 20 years of age, who used to plan crimes in quite a detailed way," says Michael.

    "They knew where the police were, they had look-outs and specialised in beating up and robbing dockers.

    "They knew how much he'd been paid, how many days he'd worked, where he lived and his route home. There were plenty of revenge attacks on people who gave evidence against the gang to police or in court. They used to try and silence witnesses, the most obvious being the Walton Prison march."

    There were frequent stabbings and the gang members wore belts with buckles sharpened, which brought into use with the 'Belts off, boys". One had his eye split open hit by one of these belts. big rivalry occurred between High Rip gang and the gwood Men, first mentioned in 1885 newspapers, who to be more of a vigilante They were allegedly med to counter attack the Rippers as they terrorised Scotland Road area.

    There are accounts of breaking into a house 'We're the Logwood ', but they may have just using the name to cause terror," says Michael. The High Rip gang's reign of ror reached a bloody climax in when it went on rampage Scotland Road. They burst into shops, shop owners, robbed from pawn brokers and, one incident, punched a baby, by the shopkeeper's arms, who set up the "Me baby's killed". Another was assaulted and many were stabbed.

    The gang was probably the first generation of youths born of Irish parents, mainly living around the Scotland Road area, stretching from Islington right up Great Howard Street to Bootle," says Michael.

    "There is a debate on one single gang or several, as cover so many areas. Different gangs calling themselves the High Rips to cash in on the fear the name provoked.



    "This was the end of the gang. They came before Judge John Day - 'the flogging judge' - and members received sentences such as flogging, whipping and 15 years in jail put an end to the gang. Again, there as political debate and lots of letters to the press complaining about this High Rip rampage, saying the Army should be brought in. The public were certainly alarmed. It was big headline news at the time.

    "The people the gang was robbing were their own kind. Many of them had jobs on the docks, like scalers (cleaning ships' boilers and hulls), which were tough, but there was no justification for their violence.

    "Another problem was that so many carried knives for their jobs, tucked in big thick belts and whenever there was trouble their knives came out.

    "I was surprised in my researches by the sheer poverty and atrocious housing conditions. Modern conditions do not compare to what these people suffered. Those children that stole from shops really were starving. This book ends in 1890 and I would like to bring it up to date with the Peanut gang and Swallow gang, which are both shrouded in mythology. Some members are believed to be still alive in their 80s.

    "While violent street robbery dropped off, burglary of big new suburban middle class houses and the growth of fraud started to rise - but that's a whole different story."

    * MICHAEL MacILWEE will sign copies of his book at Border's, Speke, on July 27 at 7pm; and Waterstone's, Bold Street on July 28 at 4pm. The Gangs of Liverpool, by Michael Macilwee, Milo Books, £9.99

    The murder of Richard Morgan

    A DAILY Post editorial in 1886 fulminated about "Savage Liverpool", scathingly describing the city's moral extremes.

    It said: "The highest type of civilisation and the lowest type of savagery are to be found in Liverpool, existing side by side; and in no city in the world can a more startling contrast of the two races of mankind - the civilised and the uncivilised - be found."

    What started this outraged comment lay with a murder back in 1874, when on August 3, Alice and Richard Morgan returned from New Ferry Druids' Gala and met his brother Samuel at Liverpool Landing Stage.

    Although they lived in a Leeds Street slum court, the Morgans were law-abiding, working class respectable people. Both Morgan brothers were fit and robust, working as a porter and a carter.

    Just beyond Exchange Station, on the corner of Lower Milk Street, four or five youths stopped the trio and demanded "six pence for a quart of ale".

    Richard Morgan replied that the youth should work and pay for his own drink.

    Suddenly he was punched from behind and stunned, fell sprawling into the road, never to speak again.

    His brother retaliated, but the ruffians whistled for help and were soon kicking the helpless body of Richard.

    Alice Morgan tried to cradle her prone husband but was knocked over by a flying kick from another youth, who started choking Richard. When Alice tried to pull him away, she was punched in the ear, leaving her deaf.

    A third yob thrashed Richard with his belt.

    Alice's screams for the police attracted a crowd who verbally encouraged the attack on the Morgans, some joining in, with seven people booting Richard's body, which was "kicked like a ball" some 40ft down the street.

    Eventually a policeman arrived.

    With cries of "Hec, hec" or "Nix, nix" (meaning run away) the gang dispersed down Lower Milk Street.

    Source....



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    Gangs of Liverpool
    19 July 2006

    Book signing on 28 July at 4 pm



    Dr Michael Macilwee, from LJMU's Learning and Information Services will be signing copies of his new book 'The Gangs of Liverpool' at Waterstones bookshop on Bold Street on Friday 28 July at 4pm.

    For more information about the book, please click here.

    Source: LJMU News Update

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    Senior Member Paul D's Avatar
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    I've got this book but I haven't read it yet but it looks great.

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    ..................it does look interesting, let us know what its like.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kev
    ..................it does look interesting, let us know what its like.
    I read a few pages in HMV today about a prize fight between two Irish lads from Scottie Rd which went 15 or so rounds and resulted in the death of one of 'em. Reckon it's worth a read.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Howie
    I read a few pages in HMV today about a prize fight between two Irish lads from Scottie Rd which went 15 or so rounds and resulted in the death of one of 'em. Reckon it's worth a read.
    I find it amazing that these stories are found....
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    Senior Member Paul D's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kev View Post
    I find it amazing that these stories are found....
    I think that because the stories went to court they have been lifted from court records.

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    Senior Member Paul D's Avatar
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    I'm half way through this book and I have to say the Liverpool of today is nowhere near as bad as it was then for crime,I suppose with the amount of poverty around then and the amount of rich people rubbing shoulders with the poor that crime was inevitable.I still see parallels with modern Liverpudlians and scousers back then the main one being the total lack of repect for authority,I suppose it's understandable because the poor were dealt a raw deal and I think the contempt for authority has been passed down through generations.Also very interestingly "The Times" newspaper used to use scathing attacks on the people of Liverpool regulary even back then so we have been demonised for centuries by the Southern based press,a good book so far and I have also learnt the the author is to follow up this book with the gangs of Liverpool part 2 taking us right up to the 50's so that's something to look out for.

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    Quite interesting

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kev View Post
    People were watching

    and it was a real shock, now as then, to learn that many were encouraging the attack and others joined in with this appalling

    violence.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kev View Post
    Alice's screams for the police attracted a crowd who verbally encouraged the attack on the Morgans, some

    joining in, with seven people booting Richard's body, which was "kicked like a ball" some 40ft down the street.
    Say

    Whaaaaaaaaaaat?!?!!
    , I can't get it out of my head, have I misunderstood these two incidents? Non-Gang members who were around actually encouraged and

    joined in these very cold murders? Just ordinary public people loved seeing these innocent people murdered and joined in kicking a young mans body 40ft down

    the street? I must have misread this.


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    Default First post......just something to say!! :)

    Just reading this book now!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Howie View Post
    I read a few pages in HMV today about a prize fight between two Irish lads from Scottie Rd which went 15 or so rounds and resulted in the death of one of 'em. Reckon it's worth a read.
    Was that the one at the old Adelphi Theatre in Christian Street?
    That was also another long-forgotten cinema which I'll get round to putting in the "Some Liverpool Cinemas" thread.

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    Philip...you are obsessed! Keep it going!!

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    Liverpool gangs: Our history of violence
    Apr 7 2008 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo

    His first book on the vicious street gangs which plagued turn-of-the-century Liverpool was short-listed for a literary award. Mick Macilwee tells Greg O'Keeffe why the sequel is just as disturbing

    SOME crimes in Liverpool have sickened the nation to its stomach and convinced people that society has reached a new low.

    No-one will forget the feeling when the details emerged of how James Bulger was murdered in 1993, or the revulsion last year after 11-year-old Rhys Jones was shot.

    Understandably people believe these startling tragedies are unique; events which have brought a troubled era into stark focus.

    But Mick Macilwee is forced to disagree.

    While he would never deny their horrors Mick, who researched thousands of old newspapers for his new book, has found that the past holds terrible echoes of both murders.

    Tearaways. More Gangs of Liverpool: 1890-1970 examines the various effects major world events had on the city. In one chapter Mick explores how WW2 impacted on children here.

    The nightly destruction and violence must have had some adverse psychological effects.

    In 1939, two boys kidnapped and assaulted a seven-year-old.

    The young victim was found wandering in the road, wounded and naked. In court, his 12-year-old attacker explained how they met the boy coming up Marsden Street, off West Derby Road:

    'We got two bottles of lemonade and told the lad to come with us. When we got him into the yard in Winter Street we took him inside and jumped on him.

    “We both kept hitting him in the face with our fists and I kept running to the gates to see if anyone was coming.

    'The other boy hit the lad on the head with a brick. He was covered with blood so we pulled him into a shed and then took all his clothes off, and we both started to throw bricks at him.

    'We both lifted him into a tin bath and then started to hit him to make him go to sleep. I did not hit him with a piece of iron, but only with a strap and some bricks.

    'He was covered in blood. When he was in the tin bath and he said: 'I am warm. Let me go to sleep,' we got on the roof and dropped a lot more bricks on his head. When he was still, we went away and left him in the bath.’

    The accused boy was sent to a remand home for a week. His mother, seemingly unaware of the gravity of the offence, stunned the magistrate by asking: 'Can't he come home?'

    It would seem such incidents were not uncommon.

    “A year later, the savagery of the young generation was again demonstrated by an attack on a four-year-old and his two-year-old brother. Three boys, aged seven, eight and 11, dragged the two youngsters into an air raid shelter and beat them unmercifully with weapons until they screamed.

    “One of the perpetrators was armed with a tree branch, one clutched a stick and the other brandished a wire spoke from an umbrella ...

    “In 1941, a female magistrate expressed dismay that such vicious children existed in Liverpool.”

    In an equally shocking passage Mick, from West Derby, goes on to describe the 1946 death of an 11-year-old boy shot using a stolen gun.

    “Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the war was the availability of real weapons ... In 1946, in Norris Green, an 11-year-old called George Gell was shot dead by a 14-year-old, using a rifle stolen from an army cadet barracks. The boy had been playing with friends in a field when he was shot through the heart.

    “Mrs Gell raced to the scene and spoke to her son as he closed his eyes for the very last time. The culprit was later put on probation.”

    Mick, a Liverpool John Moores university librarian and part-time boxing coach, even observed similarities in the suggested ways of halting such outrages.

    "I've coached kids in boxing for years so I'm interested in the debate of youth crime, social conditions and how they affect children," he says. "It's like with the Rhys Jones case, many people either say we need more help for these kids or instead, longer sentences and the reintroduction of the cane.

    “That same debate was taking place after the first world war. They had the problems of kids running wild while their dads were at war.”

    It wasn't only teenagers causing trouble in Liverpool's past though.

    The most notorious Liverpool gang of all was the High Rip which announced itself with the infamous Blackstone Street Murder and waged a vicious war against its sworn enemies, the Logwood Gang.

    According to Mick, the crimes of the High Rip fell into three categories known as the wrongdoers’ three Rs – random violence, robbery and revenge attacks.

    Members of the High Rip were drawn mainly from the area around Portland Street, off Vauxhall Road, and Mick says they were one of the most violent gangs ever to emerge from Liverpool, often targeting dockers wandering alone.

    “The High Rip were often portrayed as having some level of organisation, which they used to plan criminal activities,” he says.

    “However, one of the most terrifying features of the gang was their willingness to engage in random acts of violence.

    “There was often no attempt at theft.

    “It seems that nobody could innocently walk past them without falling prey to some sort of abuse or violence.”

    And they even sported a uniform, of sorts, just like the black tracksuited gangs of today.

    “Members dressed in a uniform of tight-fitting jacket and bell-bottomed trousers held up by a thick leather belt. A quiff of hair would protrude from underneath a ‘bucko’ cap, set at a jaunty angle.

    “The gang was so organised and so bold that they thought they could get away with anything. They usually did.”

    But, as Mick amusingly recalls, the High Rip’s comeuppance came from a policeman who struck fear into the local thugs.

    “A huge, tough policeman from the Cheapside Bridewell was said to have put the fear of God into the gang. Legend has it that he once tackled some ruffians by grabbing the leader and turning him upside down. He then swung him around by his feet, knocking down the rest of the gang like skittles.

    “The officer, known as ‘Pins’, summed up his unorthodox methods; ‘I grabs ‘em, I pins ‘em against the wall and I slaps ‘em a bit’.”

    There are lighter moments. Another chapter looks at examples of how youngsters were affected by cowboy films.

    “In 1918, a posse of three teenagers from Bootle lassoed two women in Stanley Road and dragged them screaming halfway down Rufford Road.

    “One of the captives collapsed when she was released, while her friend fainted when she got back home. In court, one of the cowboys explained they had meant no harm.

    “They had tried the trick a few times on the girls from the smelting works and didn’t realise that their latest victims were married ladies.

    “Youth crime has always been made a big deal of in the press,” says Mick. “After incidents like the lassoing they even tried to use an early form of an ASBO to ban some kids from going to the cinema.

    “Now there are problems with online bullying and text messages. But in the 40s kids were pushing threatening notes through doors.

    “One of the themes which runs through the book is that when one phase or trend for gangs runs out, another one replaces it.

    “Unfortunately there is always a new channel for the aggression and violence of some young people.”

    Tearaways is published by Milo Books, priced £7.99

    Liverpool: The Wickedest City – see Part 2 tomorrow

    grego’keeffe@liverpoolecho.co.uk
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    Default Tearaways

    Have just bought Tearaways this afternoon and look forward to reading it.

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    Thugs who made us into Britain’s ‘wickedest city’
    Apr 8 2008 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo

    In the second of a two- part series on Liverpool street gangs, author Mick Macilwee tells Greg O’Keeffe how rock ‘n’ roll and football influenced the city’s thugs

    EVEN FOR a city used to criticism from the national press, this was a low blow.

    While reeling from the high profile conviction (later quashed) and hanging of the two men accused of the infamous Cameo murders, Liverpool was still arguably no more violent than any other major UK city.

    But the city’s vicious gang scene triggered massive concern.

    In February 1950, Justice Oliver told the Liverpool Assizes ‘Violence in Liverpool is rife’. In the same year, the Daily Herald felt compelled to ask of Liverpool: ‘What makes it our wickedest city?’

    And during an exhaustive trawl through the newspaper cuttings of the time to write his new book (Tearaways, Milo Books, £7.99), author Mick Macilwee found that things were about to get even worse – thanks to rock ‘n’ roll.

    He writes: “This imported craze coincided with the creation of a decidedly English teenage style that slavishly copied, or rather parodied, the sharp cut of earlier upper-class fashions from the beginning of the century.

    “The very name ‘Teddy Boys’ derived from the Edwardian suits revived by Savile Row tailors in 1950. Working-class teenagers soon filched the style and made it their own ...

    “The very strangeness of the Teddy Boy’s attire brought terror to neighbourhoods. They were such a visible presence on the streets.

    “Not since the days of the High Rip, with their ‘bucco caps’ and mufflers, had a gang stood out so menacingly from the crowd.

    “People were assaulted for simply staring at the Teddy boys ... In Edge Hill, the Teddy Boys were known as ‘Mississippi Gamblers’. Tailors were blamed for selling the suits on the ‘never never’ thereby allowing teenagers to become gangsters overnight ...

    “In 1954, the chairman of Liverpool Juvenile Court told three Teddy Boys accused of burglary in Fazakerley: ‘You seem only to ape Edwardians in their dress. It would be far better if you adopted their code of honour’. ”

    Adds Mick: “The Teddy Boy phenomenon spread like wildfire throughout Merseyside. Women in Norris Green voiced concern that they were afraid of walking past the groups who congregated on the corner of Utting Avenue East and Broadway. The Capitol Cinema in Edge Hill was forced to display notices banning lads in Edwardian dress ...

    “In the same year, some Teds piled on the top deck of a bus as it stopped in Wavertree. Two men sitting quietly with their partners objected to the lads’ bad language. One was punched and beaten. As his girlfriend tried to stop the assault, a Ted stood on the seat and booted her in the face.

    “The police later brought the woman to a local dance hall where they were able to identify their attackers.”

    Mick was amazed at the constant prevalence of gangs on the streets of Liverpool, and suspects basic human impulses are to blame.

    “If it wasn’t sectarian gangs, it was gangs of Teddy Boys and so on,” says the 47-year-old. “When one phase finishes a new one comes along, and it’s another channel for the aggression and violence of young men.

    “It’s like the idea of kinship. That sense that ‘we are together and you are against us’.

    “Like today were we have gangs from the same part of Liverpool who might only live just a few streets from each other.”

    Fast forward to the following decade and Mick charts the beginning of another Liverpool gang scene which was preoccupied with fashion – football hooligans.

    The chapter Mersey maniacs charts the beginning of football-related violence.

    It recalls: “Merseyside football fans were still able to make an impression, particularly on away trips.

    “When Everton fans visited Leicester in 1933 a long special train brought over 600 boisterous supporters, who crowded out of the station and made a terrific din with rattles ...

    “With shouts of ‘Good old Everton’ and ‘Everton for the cup’, they surged down Granby Street behind one of their number, who carried a large jar of beer on his shoulder.

    While such behaviour was not threatening, by the 1960s it had become more than that.

    Mick recalls how one headline in 1963 said: ‘Let’s save the game from Merseyside’s football hooligan hordes’ and Goodison Park became the first British ground to install temporary barriers.

    He writes: “In January 1964, play between West Ham and Liverpool was paused to allow the referee to pick up shards of broken glass thrown at the Londoners’ goalkeeper.

    “In August 1967, both Merseyside clubs faced their two Manchester rivals. Trouble was almost guaranteed. At Goodison Park, during a 3-1 win against United, 33 rowdy fans were arrested, a British record at a time when the average number of arrests was 10 per game.

    “After a 0-0 draw with City, Liverpool fans smashed the lights and fittings of the special train carrying them home.”

    The national success of Merseyside football teams during the 60s, together with the worldwide triumph of the Merseybeat sound, certainly put Liverpool on the map.

    Yet the ascendancy of Scouse popular culture only served to mask some severe social problems back on the streets of the town.

    Says Mick: “A massive redevelopment programme was to disperse some of the city’s landmark communities and see the dreams of town planners become the nightmares of uprooted residents of the new overspill estates. The Tearaways responded by smashing up the place and turning on each other.”

    Mick adds: “A lot of people look back at the past with rose-tinted glasses and think it was a golden age. But nothing really changes. It was as bad then as it is now.”

    grego’keeffe@liverpoolecho.co.uk
    Liverpool in Pictures/ YO! Liverpool has taken me over 10 years to develop and maintain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kev View Post
    Liverpool gangs: Our history of violence
    by Greg O'Keeffe

    Tearaways is published by Milo Books, priced £7.99



    KEV. I once read a book called 'Razor King' about the gangs in Glasgow between the wars, their calling card was a slash across the face with an open razor.

    All major cities had their gangs and tearaways, not just Liverpool.

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