Scuttlers: gangs and knife crime

During the late 19th century Manchester was ‘gripped by recurring panics over youth gangs and knife-crime’. Two of the notorious gangs of ‘scuttlers’ were based within 500 yards of the George & Dragon. These were the Angel Meadow gang and the ‘Bengal Tigers’ from Bengal Street and area, off Oldham Road. The two gangs frequently clashed ‘with knives and buckle ends of their heavy leather belts in seemingly endless raids on street corners and pubs’.

We don’t know if the George & Dragon was one of the pubs raided by the gangs, though the licensees in this period must have been constantly on their guard. Amongst the victims, ‘serious woundings were commonplace and doctors at Ancoats Hospital complained of having to stitch up dozens of scuttlers per month when the Bengal Tigers were doing their worst’.

Jailing a member of the Angel Meadow gang for manslaughter in 1887, a judge said:

“Life in parts of Manchester is as unsafe and uncertain as it is amongst a race of savages.”

Jailed for 20 years was 19-year-old Owen Callaghan; his victim, Joe Brady, 18, was a member of the Bengal Tigers. The above information on Scuttlers is from an article by Andrew Davies, guardian.co.uk, Sunday 21 August 2011.