Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Troubled Times; Chronicle Archives Reveal '50S Gang Wars

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Troubled Times; Chronicle Archives Reveal '50S Gang Wars

Article excerpt

WE talk today about the violence in society, about uncaring people and how unsafe the world is becoming.

It was never like this when we were young we say.

But is that true? I have taken a trip back through the Chronicle files and landed in 1958, finding headlines such as "Girls daren't walk down the Lonnen after dark" and "Terror by night" plus "Vandals' orgy follows departure of PC".

The first story, dated February 7, 1958, told of terror of the streets of Lonnen, after dark and said: "Girls dare not walk along one stretch of a Newcastle street after dark for fear of being molested, though once it was a quiet part of the city.

"Now gangs of young hooligans, mainly teenagers, accost unescorted girls as they walk past the shops in the Two Ball Lonnen.

"If a girl crosses the road, they call out to her with a string of vulgar suggestions. Flick knives are openly flaunted by the youths. Traders find doors, windows and fences chipped and hacked.

"Frequent rowdyism and shouting by teenagers of both sexes as they congregate in groups and gangs is making life a misery for those who live in fear.

"Elderly people and women whose husbands have to leave the flats during the evening live in fear that windows will be smashed in. Recently one woman watched a youth smash a bottle outside her door and sharpen the jagged edges as if to use it as a weapon." But, according to the story people agreed that the young hoodlums, sometimes in gangs of 20, were not locals.

"Most live on the Blakelaw Estate. Some take a bus journey to get here," said one man. "This used to be a quiet area." In 1958, if you moved along to St Cuthbert's Road, in Fenham, you would have seen a street of attractive semi-detached houses - a pleasant place to live, you might have thought. But it was not.

Our story on May 4, 1958, said it was: "Terrorised by marauding gangs of teenage hoodlums, 70 families in the area have appealed for immediate protection; not only for themselves but because of the effect on children of 'sickening' scenes of immorality between gang members and girls. …

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