Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Names that pop up

When Birkenhead was hit by a heroin epidemic in the mid-eighties, and the subsequent book about the case came out, I worked with a number of guys from Birkenhead. I asked my buddy, Dave, about some of the names that cropped up.  The brains behind it was a Liverpool villain called Peter Burley.  Not exactly a household name, yet his crew of `Head villains created a tidal wave of crime through the area, due to drug addiction.  Birkenhead acquired the tag of "Smack City".  From Woodchurch came Jimmy Miller.  "Well-known for violence on the doors" said Dave.  From the Ford Estate, came hardman Gerry Brown.  "Not heard of him"  The other man was Martin Andrews from Morton.  "Yes, I have heard of him", said Dave, "Involved in various activities, so I`ve heard!"  

    One area that Burley stayed away from was Leasowe.  It seems that the crime family there, rather unexpectedly, wanted nothing to do with drugs.  Burley thought that he could muster up the muscle to take the family out of the frame and move in, but the resulting violence would have brought too much Police activity, so he decided to leave it be.  Dave could not remember the name of this family, but said, "Brian can tell you.  He knows them".  Brian was a doorman and we worked together for some time.  "The Cavanaghs" he told me.  "They use the pub The Oyster Catcher as a base of operations"  There certainly was some heavy villains in Birkenhead.  There was a family that had long sold drugs in Birkenhead, and astonishingly, the grandmother was allegedly involved.

    The Police brought down Burleys` drug empire and from then on, other areas around the country acquired this tag of "Smack City"