Thursday, 10 October 2013

The Peanut Gang

The Peanut Gang was a notorious street gang that operated in South Liverpool from the thirties to just after the war.  At that time, Liverpool was awash with juvenile gangs, ranging from three youths up to a dozen plus, but the Peanut Gang had many members, though it was never established that they had any leaders.  They were also known as the Park Lane Gang, owing to the area they lived in.  This area included Caryl Gardens, Brassey Street, Dombey Street, and others.  Their ages ran from young teens to their early twenties.  Their name came from one of their leading members "Peanut" McGlynn.

    Their crimes ran the gauntlet of a crime sheet; assault, intimidation, street robberies, burglaries, stolen cars, and a particular form of income was from attacking and robbing sailors and soldiers.  Liverpool was the second busiest port in Britain, and a stopping off point for troops being brought from the USA and Canada.  This was known as "Rolling".  Once when a number of them were in court and they were facing jail terms, one of their defence lawyers was none other than Sydney Silverman, the MP who managed to get the Death Penalty suspended, then had the criteria for a Capital Offence changed to five certain offences. Rose Heilbron, one of the first, if not the first, female Barrister, defended some of the others.  She later defended George Kelly, but failed to save him from the gallows, and became a High Court Judge.

    Their reign of terror continued throughout the War years, with numerous complaints from the public for the Police and the courts to stamp them out once and for all.  Some were barely teenagers and magistrates complained that they were legally too young to receive a flogging, and despite being sent to approved schools, this did not deter them.  In fact it was a badge of honour for them, making their mark for the elders of the gang to see and appreciate.  Youngsters going to school were particular targets, mugging them, and some were unfortunate enough to see their assailant smash a bottle, and then sadistically, stick it in their faces.  But as the war came to an end, as they had gotten older, some dropped out, due to working properly, raising families, but it was the thought that many, many men whom had fought in the war, and had a taste for real combat, returning to Liverpool, were just too much for the Peanut Gang to face, and so they fizzled out.  But gang violence has continued to ravage the city right up to the present day.