The Krays and Jack the Ripper are some of London’s best-know criminals, but back in the 18th century, residents were being scandalised by the antics of gangs such as the Night Plunderers, the Scuffle Hunters and the Heavy Horsemen.
These nefarious crews plundered the ships moored at London’s docks, stealing what they could from the hundreds of ships loaded with precious cargo. St Katharine Docks — opened in 1828 — was the centre of luxury goods importing, stockpiling everything from tea and coffee to silks and feathers. Yet despite being fronted by six-storey high warehouses, it didn’t take much to get the first mate drunk then sneak off with barrow-loads of swag.
Find out how theft at the docks prompted the first organised police force in London, drove innovation and social change, and transformed the capital for good — at a special talk as part of the Totally Thames Festival on 21 September. Led by Georgina Young, senior curator of contemporary history at the Museum of London and Christopher West, author of new book The Story of St Katherine’s, the discussion will delve deep into dock history, bringing to life what was one of the most important aspects of the city.
Hear more Stories from the Docks on Sunday 21 September, 1.30pm-3pm aboard HMS President. Tickets £7.50, £5 concession per talk, or day pass (entry to three talks) £15, £12.50 concession. Tickets are available online. This talk is part of Londonist Afloat: Terrific Tales of the Thames events for the Totally Thames festival.