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sheffield gang wars
The Sheffield Gang Wars
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Gang warfare in the 1920s was nowhere more violent than in Sheffield, dubbed Britain's 'little Chicago'. One man was murdered, two hanged, and many others gaoled before the gangs were finally smashed, after five years of knifings, shootings and razor-slashings, years in which the law-abiding citizen became afraid to walk the streets of his own city. The Sheffield Gang Wars is the only full and factual account of what is an integral part of British criminal history. It reveals how and why the gangs quarrelled and who were the real aggressors. It questions the guilt of the brothers Fowler, hanged for their part in the Princess Street murder. It details the controversial tactics of the Home Office-instigated Flying Squad. It puts the gangbuster reputation of Chief Constable Sillitoe - later to become head of M15 - in true perspective. The Sheffield Gang Wars tell the real story as it happened.


The Sheffield Gang Wars was published in September 1981, by D & D Publications. It made an immediate impact, helped by a six-part serialisation the Sheffield Star.  In 1986 the BBC broadcast a television drama-documentary based on the book, repeated nationally in 1987. JP Bean was interviewed in the film, as was the son of gang leader George Mooney and the daughter of Wilfred Fowler, who spoke of visiting her father in the death cell at Armley Prison, Leeds, the day before he was hanged in 1925. The book has been cited as a reference in many criminological works.

JP Bean: “It took over two years to get The Sheffield Gang Wars published. Twenty-five publishers turned it down. One said it wouldn’t sell more than a few hundred copies. I think they miscalculated - it’s sold well over 35,000 and has never been out of print.”  


IBSN: 0-9507645-0-7


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Reviews & comments

I never realised there were gangs like this beyond Watford until I read this excellent book

Bruce Reynolds, mastermind of the 1963 Great Train Robbery

‘Immaculate research makes this book a pleasure to read’    

James Morton, author of the Gangland series

‘As readable as any good “blood and thunder”, and all the remarkable because it’s true’       
Yorkshire Life

‘Written in a remarkably objective manner … its account of police methods defines what “old-fashioned coppering” really meant’    

Police Review

A real contribution to criminal history

Law Society’s Gazette


HOT NEWS:   MARCH 2014 - a major British film company have aquired the film rights to The Sheffield Gang Wars by JP Bean



JP Bean in conversation with Great Train Robber Bruce Reynolds