Gangland London
There were many gangs that operated in London in the early 1900’s such as the Elephant gang, from the Elephant and Castle, the Titanic gang from City road, the Vendetta gang led by Arthur Harding, the Strutton Ground mob and the Coons led by Darky the Coon. But it was the Sabinis who were to become the major shareholders in gangland London.
Their reign was to last almost 3 decades.
They originally provided protection for the Italian community in Little Italy in Clerkenwell but progressed into the horseracing world and eventually took control of all the tracks in the south of England. By the time Frankie Fraser was born in 1923 the Sabinis were well and truly established. And it was Darby Sabini who gave Frank aged nine, his first real job as a bucket boy on the racetracks.
One of the reasons that the Sabinis managed to survive for so many years is because they were not too worried about grassing on the opposition and in many ways worked with the police to keep that control. If there were known criminals working the tracks members of the Sabini gang would approach them and slap them on the back leaving a white chalk mark clearly identifying them to the police.
Other gangs such as the Sabinis gradually eased the Hoxton mob, Aldgate mob and Broadstreet mob out and their interests taken over.
As well as the racetrack concessions they owned and protected many drinking and gaming clubs in the West End.
They would also take a percentage of any criminal activities that occurred on their patch, a formula that would later be perfected by the Krays.
When the Cortesi bothers, Augustus, Enrico, George and Paul split from the Sabinis it left a way open for the White family from Islington. They challenged the Sabinis forcing them to reach an accommodation that they (the Whites) should have the Kings Cross area and the Sabinis, the West End.
During the war the Sabinis were interned and that effectively left the doors wide open for the Whites to step in. After the war the Whites had moved into the West End and now had control of all racing in the South.
The West End had never been completely controlled by any one gang and there were many power struggles by smaller gangs hoping to expand their territory.
By this time Frankie Fraser was well into his criminal career and was working with Albert Dimes supplying gaming machines to West End clubs. Albert was an associate of Billy Hill who had also seen the opportunities that were now up for grabs. When Hill and Jack Spot teamed up in the late 40’s the writing was on the wall for the Whites.
This alliance brought peace to the West End and with the help of the police it was to stay this way for some time. However this marriage was to end in tears. Both Hill and Spot claimed to be King of the Underworld and articles written in a certain newspaper favouring Hill enraged Spot so much that he attacked Albert Dimes, Billy Hill’s right hand man.
This was a big mistake for Spot. Frankie Fraser and others attacked Spot leaving him on death’s door. He survived but by then had lost all credibility in the underworld and slowly went downhill. Unfortunately for Frank he was arrested (1956) and received 7 years in prison for his efforts.
With Frank in prison, Spot on the decline and Billy Hill now semi-retired in Spain, London was again open territory.
The Nashes, another Islington based gang, made inroads into the West End owning and protecting more than twenty clubs.
But it was to be two of their acquaintances, The Richardsons and the Krays that would dominate gangland London in the late 50’s and most of the 60’s.
While Frank was away, the Richardsons had been building their semi legitimate businesses south of the river. And in the East the Krays had well and truly established themselves as a force to be reckoned with.
When Frank had finished his seven years he went to work for the Richardsons but still maintained his ties with Albert Dimes.
The Krays had also sought Frank’s services but was won over by the Richardsons when they supported Frank’s brother in law Jimmy Brindle after he was brutally beaten by Ray Rosa, Bill Noyes and Eric Mason.
This Fraser-Richardsons alliance was once compared to China getting the Atom bomb.
The Richardsons and the Krays had been afforded some immunity to prosecution because in many ways they were doing the work of the police by keeping crime, in their respective areas down to a minimum. But they were becoming too powerful, believing that their apparent immunity extended to torture and murder.
And as history has recorded, the 1960’s were to see the arrests of the Richardsons and the Krays and effectively an end to organised crime in the capital.