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Crime and Punishment in Victorian London. A Street-Level of by Ross Gilfillan

By Ross Gilfillan

'Crime loomed huge within the minds of Victorian Londoners. all around the urban, watches, handbags and handkerchiefs disappear from wallet, items migrate from warehouses, off docks and out of store home windows. Burglaries are rife, shoplifting is carried on in West finish shops and other people fall sufferer to every kind of creative swindles.

'Pornographers proliferate and an anticipated 80,000 prostitutes function on London's streets. The weak are robbed in darkish alleys or garroted, a brand new form of mugging during which the sufferer is half-strangled from at the back of whereas being stripped of his possessions...'

Discover Victorian London's dirty rookeries, domestic to millions of the city's poorest and so much determined citizens. discover the crime-ridden slums, flash homes and gin palaces from a different street-level view and meet the folk who inhabited them. 

Ross Gilfillan uncovers London's misplaced legal earlier during this attention-grabbing account of 19th century low-life. Come...

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Boys, he claims, “boastfully carried on loud conversations…of their triumphs over the virtue of girls, and girls have laughed at, and encouraged the recital”. Some lodging houses are fronts for fences, traders in stolen property, and the food cooked in the kitchens is often thieved from local markets by light-fingered lodgers. The shock of finding oneself in such a place can be greater for those who have known something better. A man who “had filled a commercial situation of no little importance” but ruined himself through drink, left a rather pathetic description of the place to which his intemperance led him: I myself have slept in the top room of a house not far from Drury Lane, and you could study the stars, if you were so minded, through the holes left by the slates having blown off the roof.

Here, he “often saw boys follow the male passengers when the boats came to the Adelphi stairs”. When the passengers had finished disembarking from the boats, Dick finds that his companions generally have “one or two handkerchiefs”. The boys then introduce the young Dick to a shifty man called ‘Larry’, a meeting which takes place in the unusual location of a (presumably abandoned) prison van. Larry, as he discovers, gives the boys whatever price he likes for the handkerchiefs. If they don’t agree, he threatens to have them arrested.

Up the Spout: a visit to the pawn shop For working-class families living in the poorer districts of mid-century London, the pawn shop is a regular resort. Visits to ‘Uncle’, as pawnbrokers are euphemistically called, to put something ‘up the spout’ are common. Small amounts of money are borrowed to buy food, fuel or, too often, drink. Household items or clothing are left as security, either to be redeemed when the borrower has cash, or to be sold by the pawnbroker. Buying the item back usually means paying an additional five per cent of the sum borrowed.

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