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Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth like a garment wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air. William Wordsworth, Composed upon Westminster Bridge, 1807
London Cholera: the London Broad Street pump is the killer. Mankind: The Story of All of Us X: Revolution, History 2012
The pavement and the road are crowded with purchasers and street-sellers. The housewife in her thick shawl, with the market-basket on her arm, walks slowly on, stopping now to look at the stall of caps, and now to cheapen a bunch of greens. Little boys, holding three or four onions in their hand, creep between the people, wriggling their way through every interstice, and asking for custom in whining tones, as if seeking charity. Then the tumult of the thousand different cries of the eager dealers, all shouting at the top of their voices, at one and the same time, is almost bewildering. ‘So-old again,’ roars one. ‘Chestnuts all ’ot, a penny a score,’ bawls another. ‘An ‘aypenny a skin, blacking,’ squeaks a boy. ‘Buy, buy, buy, buy, buy – bu-u-uy!’ cries the butcher. ‘Half-quire of paper for a penny,’ bellows the street stationer. ‘An 'aypenny a lot ing-uns.’ ‘Twopence a pound grapes.’ ‘Three a penny Yarmouth bloaters.’ ‘Who’ll buy a bonnet for fourpence?’ ‘Pick ’em out cheap here! three pair for a halfpenny, bootlaces’ ‘Now’s your time! beautiful whelks, a penny a lot.’ ‘Here’s ha’p’orths,’ shouts the perambulating confectioner. ‘Come and look at ’em! Here’s toasters!’ bellows one with a Yarmouth bloater stuck on a toasting-fork. ‘Penny a lot, fine russets,’ calls the apple woman: and so the Babel goes on.’ Henry Mayhew, Victorian social essay
This square mile of the city of London contains the finest concentration of Baroque architecture outside Rome – 51 Baroque gems nestling among the money-making skyscrapers. Waldemar Januszczak, Baroque! From St Peter’s to St Paul’s III, BBC 2013
Monet and Pissarro, both of whom had children and mistresses to look after, fled here to London. Waldemar Januszczak, The Impressionists: Painting and Revolution I: Gang of Four, BBC 2011
Because it was here in London that Monet and Pissarro discovered Turner. ibid.
London, England May 1973: when Vincent arrived at Victoria Station, London, it was an overwhelming sight. Vincent – The Untold Story of Our Uncle I, 2012
Hogath’s London was one hell of a subject for an artist. By far the biggest city in Europe. One in ten Englishmen lived here. The Genius of British Art: Hogarth, Channel 4 2010
It was getting like the wild west. John O’Connor, commander Flying Squad, re 1960s proliferation of bank robberies
In London alone there are 250 recognised gangs. And an estimated 4,500 young people caught up in gang culture. Gang Life, BBC 2012
Gang members carry out half of all shootings in the capital. ibid.
An early and violent death is another aspect of the life-style. ibid.
On March 5th 1969 identical twins Reginald & Ronald Kray were sentenced to Life imprisonment. They were 35-years-old. Flesh & Blood: The Story of the Krays, 1991
Since their early twenties the Krays had been building up a criminal empire in the East End of London. ibid.
The streets of the East End were increasingly coming under the control of two gang leaders – Billy Hill and Jack Spot. ibid.
Their gang was now known as The Firm. ibid.
The Krays’ network of clubs, fraud and protection was now a substantial concern. ibid.
In 1964 Ronnie Kray finally became headline news: his name was linked with Lord Boothby in a homosexual scandal that was set to rock the nation. ibid.
They were all-powerful in the East End; they were celebrities in the West End. ibid.
The Firm wanted Frank Mitchell, the Mad Axeman. In 1967 they arranged his escape from Dartmoor Prison. ibid.
In June 1967 Frances killed herself with an overdose of tablets. ibid.
It was to become the longest and most expensive trial in British legal history. ibid.
But the men standing behind Judy Garland are not rising young stars. They were gangstas. The Kray Twins, Ronnie and Reggie, ran protection rackets in London’s East End. The Krays loved publicity. They dressed to impress. Thanks to press and the TV they rapidly became household names. But the Krays had rivals. The Richardson brothers. Unlike the Krays, Eddie and Charley shied away from the media spotlight. They quietly built a major criminal empire based on illegal drinking clubs, extortion and corporate fraud. The Krays were based in London’s East End; the Richardsons operated across the River Thames. Both groups jealously guarded their respective turfs ... Fraser and the Richardson gang offered protection to bars and pubs in return for installing the gang’s fruit machines. It was thinly veiled extortion. Underworld: London
During the 1950s Ronnie Kray and his twin brother Reggie grew up in a working-class East-End household close to the docks. Early on, the brothers learned how to use fear and intimidation to survive in a tough city neighbourhood. Freddie Foreman, a lifelong friend, joined the Krays in their criminal enterprises. He soon discovered that getting between them was dangerous. With Foreman’s help, the Twins rose from poverty to become crime bosses of London’s East-End. The Krays called their gang The Firm ... The Twins made money through extortion, offering protection for clubs and pubs and receiving payment in return. Those who refused to comply faced serious consequences. ibid.
The Richardsons made £100,000 from fraud alone. More than a £1,000,000 in today’s money. But they were businessmen with a highly unusual management style. ibid.
London 1966: for months a dispute had been heating up between the city’s top crime families over control of the West End, London’s red light and entertainment district. ibid.
Ronnie Kray shot [George] Cornell in front of witnesses ... In London’s East End the Krays were beyond the reach of the law. ibid.
Across the River the Richardsons weren’t so lucky. Angered at the continued use of torture to keep them in line, gang members began informing police about the abuse. It was the break authorities had been waiting for. On July 30th 1966 Charlie Richardson was arrested on five counts of grievous bodily harm. He joined his brother Eddie and Frankie Fraser behind bars. With key members of the Richardson gang locked up, the Kray twins effectively became the rulers of London’s gangland. ibid.
London’s police now made busting the Krays a top priority ... The Krays still believed gangland loyalty would keep them from prison. Ronnie and Reggie were both sentenced to Life with a minimum of 30 years for the murders of Jack McVitie and George Cornell. Freddie Foreman got 10 years for his role in the McVitie murder. ibid.
The 1970s saw a five-fold increase in armed raids. Robbers like Bernie Khan were committing three or four robberies a week ... Alarmed with the crime wave, police fought back with an elite specialised squad of detectives – the Flying Squad. ibid.
Meanwhile, the City’s banks and cash-carrying companies were still being targeted. Out on the streets it was business as usual for the criminals. Robberies in London continued to escalate – 734 in 1978 alone ... By the 1980s the recent rash of armed robberies plaguing the City was declining. Security was also improving at banks and in the vehicles that transport the cash. ibid.