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Peter the Plotter and the Diamond Raid

Byworth and Co. were a diamond mounting firm in 19-21 Heddon Street, a small road off Regent Street. In June 1922 thieves opened two safes with an oxy-acetylene cutter and stole jewelry worth £20,000. Nobody was convicted. Over 30 years later they were the target of another robbery. The premises closed as usual on Friday night 16 July 1954 after the week’s work. When the staff returned the following Monday, they found the door to the safe had been blown off with gelignite and the office was covered in dust and debris from the explosion. They immediately called Scotland Yard, and Detective Superintendent Bob Higgins of the Flying Squad was put in charge of the investigation. Altogether £37,000 worth of diamonds, gold, and platinum had been taken from the safe, today equivalent to over £1M. Someone had climbed up to the fourth floor and entered the building through a lavatory window. Lengths of knotted rope were found on the roof. Sup. Higgins asked for accounts of any suspicious activi
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Ahoy there! Howard Lang

On Easter Sunday, Marianne watched ‘Ben Hur’ for the umpteenth time and among the support actors, she recognised a familiar face - Howard Lang. He was the man beating time – or to give his proper job description, the hortator, on the slave galley that included Ben Hur played by Charlton Heston. The hortator varied the rapidity of his drum strikes – the more beats the faster the rowers had to pull on their oars, with a little encouragement from soldiers who hit them with whips. The fastest tempo was sea battle or ‘ramming’ speed. We had a conversation about Howard Lang. He is probably best-known for another maritime role as Captain Baines in the long-running BBC series ‘The Onedin Line’. This portrayed a fictional shipping company in Liverpool from 1860 to the 1880s. It was compulsory viewing for Marianne but wasn’t a programme that appealed to Dick.     In real life Howard Lang was born in London as Donald Yarranton. At the time of the 1911 census on 2 April, his parents Edward and

The Kilburn Riot

The firm of Saxby and Farmer was Kilburn’s largest employer. In 1863 they opened a factory in Canterbury Road and their patented railway signals were sold around the world during the railway boom. In 1871 they employed 414 men and 36 boys rising to 2,000 at their peak, until the factory closed in 1903 and the company moved to Chippenham.   The Neville’s Cross pub at 40 Denmark Street was built in 1865 on the corner with Neville Road. The owner Neville Newton was a publican at The Plough in Kensal Green. He may have named the pub after the 1346 battle of Neville’s Cross near Durham, when the invading Scottish army was defeated by the English. Or he named it after himself and the street where the pub stood at a crossroads. Soon after it opened, the licence was transferred to publican Charles Ashby.  1860s OS Map 1894 OS Map The two OS maps show the growth of South Kilburn between the 1860s and 1894. The red marks show the Neville’s Cross and Sir Robert Peel pubs. At 11.30 pm on Saturday

Louis Massey: The Great Escape

At 11.15 am on Sunday 3 September 1939 the whole country were huddled around their radios waiting to hear Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who gave a 5 minute broadcast on the BBC Home Service. He said: ‘I am speaking to you from the cabinet room at 10 Downing Street. This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin handed the German Government a final note stating that unless we heard from them by 11 o'clock that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us. I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received, and that consequently this country is at war with Germany’. Thus War was declared on Nazi Germany and the Second World War began. The following day the troops of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), began to move to France and Belgium. Over several months they dug in and waited. Then on the 10 May 1940 the Germans invaded France and the Low Countries. The battle raged with the Germans getting the