Saturday, 16 March 2013

Docks & Seaports

Docklands and seaports have always been a hotbed of high and low level criminality, with large scale theft, smuggling and prostitution at the forefront.  The main ports for decades were London, Liverpool and Salford.  Up to the 1950`s, three families had a hold on the capitals` docklands.  The powerfulest of these families were the Butlers who ran a docking firm called Scruttons.  Everybody who stole from the docks had to pay a cut to the Butlers.  The other two families were the Collins` and the Maddens.

    Liverpool had over eight miles of dock area, which had long been a gold mine for large scale organised theft.  During the second world war, massive amounts of war supplies arrived from America, for Britain and for the war effort in Europe. But large scale thefts were rife and so a major operation was mounted by Liverpool Police, which was so successful that the head of the operation, the infamous Bert Balmer, was praised by none other than J.Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI.  Thefts substantially dropped and the culprits jailed.  After the war, the large scale plundering began again, and a good number of Liverpool villains became very wealthy, due to their highly organised thefts and fencing.  As with villains in other big ports, some of these wealthy villains did not need to expand into any other branches of crime, though some did in the 80`s branch out big time into the drug trade.  In the 80`s and 90`s, Manchester villains were busy shooting and killing each other over "Respect" and territory, but in Liverpool, they got on with the business of crime.  Again, raking in fortunes.  It makes you wonder what city was the city for excellence when it comes to crime.  London or Liverpool?

    Salford was the third busiest port in Britain, despite the fact that is so far inland.  This is due to the Manchester Ship Canal which opened in 1894, and by-passes Ellesmere Port, my birthplace.  In fact I worked down near the docks before I moved away.  This was another port where men became wealthy through organised thefts and dealing very forcefully with anybody who tried to interfere.  It is said that Salford bred more big hard men than any where else.  But, as in time, the docks declined through out the country and in particular in Liverpool and Salford. The Salford Quays were redeveloped into a luxury flats area