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Gangs of Manchester, The : The Story of the Scuttlers Britain's First Youth Cult Paperback – 7 May 2009
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'A well thought out, brilliantly told, historically accurate and definitive work...Simply the best of its kind.'
-- United We Stand
'An absorbing read.' (Family History Monthly) -- FAMILY HISTORY MONTHLY
'An important addition to the growing library on pre-Fifties youth culture.'
-- Jon Savage in THE DAILY TELEGRAPH
'An important addition to the growing library on pre-fifties youth culture.' (The Daily Telegraph) -- THE DAILY TELEGRAPH
'Andrew Davies evokes the energy and excitement of gang life, their pride, their loyalty to each other, their love of fighting and their brutal excesses.' -- HISTORY TODAY
'Fascinating.' (Salford Advertiser)
-- SALFORD ADVERTISER
'If ever a book was captured by the image on its front cover then this is it.' (History Today) -- HISTORY TODAY
'Lively, well-researched...A masterly job.'(BBC History Magazine) -- BBC HISTORY MAGAZINE
'Rampant knife crime. Warring yobs clad in their own threatening uniform. And utterly powerless police. No, not 2009, but a Victorian England terrorised by teenage gangs even more savage than today's. -- DAILY MAIL
'With all the skill of a novelist, Davies weaves together the fruits of meticulous research to recreate the Manchester of the late 19th century in all its appalling fascination. An absorbing read and a must for anyone who wants to understand life in the classic slum.' -- FAMILY HISTORY MONTHLY --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
'Andrew Davies evokes the energy and excitement of gang life, their pride, their loyalty to each other, their love of fighting and their brutal excesses.' --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
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The problems faced then remain unchanged now, youngsters with too much time on their hands, the practice of obscene communications (long before Channel 4!) undermining social respect, teenagers (girls as well as boys) being involved in what they perceived as peer approved behaviour and, above all, the ready availability of alcohol in the days before the introduction of limited hours. If ever proof of "four generations and back to clogs" were needed, 24 hour licensing provided it.
Although there were some racial and religious elements involved, the gangs were (as today) largely territorially based. Many of those in their early teens claimed to be adults in order to avoid a five year sentence to the Reformatory School, where discipline was strict, rather than the inside of Strangeways where the maximum sentence for assault by an adult was likely to be six months or less.
Underpinning it all lay the English tradition of fighting for the sake of it (the beer merely increased the incidence). For many living in the city which coined the term "Acid Rain" as early in 1872, it was the only energetic outlet of drab lives and much of it was mischievous rather than criminal in intent.
The introduction of alternative forms of recreation such as Lads' clubs and the Boys' Brigade played a part in changing attitudes and activities. Ultimately it was discipline (either in the form of military service or, in many cases, marriage) which saw young men drained of their capacity for violence and finally settle down.
There was a large degree of self interest against change. Rather like the saloon keeper in High Noon, publicans were less interested in keeping law and order as keeping their customers (however bawdy) happily supplied with alcoholic beverages.
What is perhaps surprising is that ideas of how to punish offenders were as diverse as now. Not all judges considered jail as the first option, many recognised the need for social reform and the introduction of social and legal structures which could be respected by all sectors of society.
Andrew Davies has written a first rate history of late nineteenth Manchester and Salford, evoking a culture which was still prevalent in the early 1950's in the schoolyard and society as a whole. What's more he has made it readable and lively while maintaining the highest level of scholarship. Well worth buying. Indeed, a bargain.
The book brings home to life the harsh existance and lack of opportunties for the working classes in the hey day of Industrial Manchester and Salford, that led to the rise of the Scuttlers.
As a Salford resident, I learnt a lot about the area in which I live that I simply wasn't aware off. The people and places (many of which I know) are brought vividly to life - I've already had quite a few conversations in the local pub about the events portrayed and the people involved.
Now that I've read the book, I would love a follow up on what happened to the Scuttlers in later life and wouldn't it be good to meet the modern day descendants of the "King" of the Scuttlers and get their view on their infamous ancestors.
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