Meet the Author

If you’re in the Manchester area during November and would like to meet the author of The Gangs of Manchester, come along to one of the following bookstore events:

Saturday, 15 November, 12.00: Waterstone’s, Trafford Centre

Saturday, 22 November, 2.00: Waterstone’s, Deansgate

DATE TO BE CONFIRMED: Borders, Cheetham Hill Road (Manchester Fort)

Andrew Davies will be signing copies of the book, and talking to readers about the scuttling gangs of Victorian Manchester and Salford.

Mike Duff on The Gangs of Manchester

Manchester poet and novelist Mike Duff has written an appreciation of The Gangs of Manchester in the fanzine United We Stand (issue 177, November 2008). Mike read an early draft of the book and wrote the poem “The King of the Scuttlers” in response. This is what he made of the final version:

THE GANGS OF MANCHESTER is a well thought out, brilliantly told, historically accurate and definitive work about a phenomenon that swept the slums of Manchester during Victorian times: The Scuttlers. This was a Manchester of public houses, gin-shops, singing saloons, organ grinders and monkeys and music halls. Of prostitutes and pimps and lodging houses where men slept the line (if you couldn’t afford the price of a mattress they let you sleep on a wooden chair, the chairs were placed around the side of the room, and men would fall asleep upright on a rope stretched from one wall to the other). This was a Manchester of salvationists, revolutionaries, thieves, cadgers and Fenians. And Marx and Engels knew the Meadow, Ancoats, the Adelphi in Salford well and drank on the Crescent. It was here amongst the bedraggled that they formed their theories. And the author captures the mood, danger and violence of the times. So much so that you walk the streets of Manchester with the Scuttlers. The Scuttlers were groups of youths who caused murder and mayhem across the streets of our city and frightened the authorities into a frenzy. Scuttling (gang warfare for turf) first arose in the squalid, rat invested dwellings at the bottom of Rochdale Road, when Angel Meadow went to war with Ancoats over who controlled New Cross, and it quickly spread across the poorer parts of the city to Salford. Gangs and gang leaders quickly became legendary (the Bengal Tigers, the Bungall Boys, the Meadow Lads, John Brady and Owen Callaghan). Their mode of dress was amusing by modern standards, they favoured silk flashy scarves, brass tipped clogs, bell bottomed trousers and had their hair cut short at the back and sides and they sported long fringes plastered down beneath peaked caps that they always tilted to the left. Their favoured weapons were belts wrapped around their knuckles, pokers, hammers and chivs (knives) and remarkably they ranged between 12 and 22. The Rochdale Road wars lasted for thirty years and on every page of Andrew Davies’ gritty book there is a tale or two that will shock the reader and lay low the myth that the youth of today are any more out of control than their predecessors. In fact I’d argue that the kids today are angels in comparison. If you don’t know the streets of Manchester or Salford it will not impair your enjoyment of a book that is simply the best of its kind that I have read.

Mike Duff


Angels with Manky Faces

Tales of totty, scuttlers and gin … a play inspired by The Gangs of Manchester is to be staged at Manchester’s Library Theatre in 2009. The North Manchester-based MaD Theatre Company will be performing Angels with Manky Faces from 19-22 August. If you saw one of MaD’s previous productions at the Library – ASBO, She’s just nipped out for fags or Les Puddings Noir – you’ll know you’re in for a treat. More details will follow soon – keep an eye on the page on the play.

Scuttlers auf deutsch

A German news agency,  Wissenschaft Aktuell, has covered the scuttlers here. The first reports of “scuttling” in the Manchester press surfaced during the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71, when rival armies were formed in the Rochdale Road district of Manchester to re-enact continental battles. The “Prussians” were the Protestant boys of the slums of Angel Meadow and New Cross. Their opponents – young Catholic lads from the same neighbourhoods – formed a rival army, and marched into combat behind a flag bearing a single word: “FRENCH”. As “scuttling” spread across the Manchester conubation, this religious dimension was rapidly eclipsed by neighbourhood loyalties and by the mid-1870s, most “scuttling” gangs contained both Catholics and Protestants.

Gangs of Manchester in the Guardian

Martin Wainwright, the Guardian‘s Northern correspondent, discusses The Gangs of Manchester here. Many of the stories in the book were first reported in the same newspaper in its original incarnation as the Manchester Guardian.

BBC Manchester Online: feature on The Gangs of Manchester

To read a feature on The Gangs of Manchester, plus an interview with Andrew Davies by Richard Turner of BBC Manchester, click here.

Gangs of Manchester launched

 Andrew Davies launched his book The Gangs of Manchester at Manchester Central Library on Thursday 2nd October. 75 people turned out for the ticket-only event. Andrew will be following up this launch with a public talk about and reading from the book at the Central Library on Wednesday 22 October at 6pm. The event is free but ticket only – book your tickets at the Library (see links on lefthand column to Manchester Local Studies and Archives).

You can see more photos of the launch here

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