IN HIS new book lifting the lid on Cardiff’s criminal past, former police detective John F Wake says: “Researching and writing this book has been fascinating.”
And I can truly add that The Cruel Streets Revisited – A Case File of Cardiff’s Lawless Past, its Growth, its Characters, its Murders, and its Mean Streets, has been a fascinating read too.
The book has chapters about the infamous Minnie McGuire, the Hannah Williams murder, “the shame of Temperancetown”, walking the Tiger Bay beat, the Notorious Mary Ann Street and much, much more.
John, who told me that he hates injustice, also tells the story of Ellen Stewart.
In 1900 she was sentenced to nine months of hard labour for stealing half-a-crown (2/6) from a coal miner.
And, as late as 1907, a starving woman was sentenced to seven days of hard labour for stealing a loaf of bread from a Cardiff shop.
The 40 thieves race gang murder (which incidentally features in my recently published book Racing Rogues: The Scams, Scandals and Gambles of Horse Racing in Wales), when Dai Lewis had his throat cut in St Mary Street, is also included.
The book is compiled from extensive research in public archives, conversations with local people, and from the author’s personal experience as a copper for more than 25 years on the beat.
The story of the hapless Minnie McGuire, who was probably born in Cardiff in the 1860s, is a shocking one