Opportunist thieves, disgraced perverts and crooked railway staff: Mugshots of notorious early 20th century transport criminals released

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Chancers photographed after swiping unattended luggage, while organised felons used their connection to the railways to steal whisky supplies

British Transport Police have released dozens of mugshots of early 20th Century transport criminals, including a sorry array of opportunist thieves, disgraced military perverts and crooked railway staff.

Taken between the late Victorian period and 1920, the images are an enlightening snapshot of the hugely varied criminal classes that operated on Britain’s rapidly expanding railway network.

From John Moir, the lowly one-eyed goods checker fined for stealing tea, to career criminal Robert Lewis who was jailed with hard labour for the theft of parcels, the mugshots reveal the railways to be a place where all manner of crime flourished.

Click here for a full gallery of the mugshots

The majority of criminals appear to have been operating classic distraction robberies; using the chaos of a bustling railway station to swipe expensive luggage while the owner worried about mundane travel necessities like purchasing tickets and asking guards for directions.

Some, however, appear to have been members of organised gangs who targeted goods or postal trains for their expensive cargo, or low-paid railway employees who wrongly assumed that their privileged position put them beyond suspicion when the occasional item went missing.

The later certainly seems to have been the case with North British Railway employee Thomas Drummond, who was photographed wearing his elegant uniform before being jailed for 20 days over the theft of 12 bottles of whisky.

North British Railway employee Thomas Drummond was photographed wearing his elegant uniform before being jailed for 20 days over the theft of 12 bottles of whisky. North British Railway employee Thomas Drummond was photographed wearing his elegant uniform before being jailed for 20 days over the theft of 12 bottles of whisky.

Other thieves include Mitchell Steadman-Turner, who was sentenced to six months in prison after stealing a Japanese basket from Waverley Station in Edinburgh in 1920, and the smartly dressed, fashionably bearded James Whilton – alias Charles Wharton – who stole a bag from London’s Paddington Station in 1887.

Servicemen, it appears, were not immune to the temptations of vice of railways either, with two of the mugshots showing men in military uniform.

Private Gordon Marr of the 16 Battalion Canadian Scottish Regiment was sentenced to 10 days in prison for theft of a box of fish in 1918, while disgraced RAF Lieutenant Jack Graham-Parker was convicted of indecent exposure at a railway station over a three-day spell in March 1920.

Private Gordon Marr of the 16 Battalion Canadian Scottish Regiment was sentenced to 10 days in prison for theft of a box of fish in 1918 Private Gordon Marr of the 16 Battalion Canadian Scottish Regiment was sentenced to 10 days in prison for theft of a box of fish in 1918

Women are also seen among the mugshots, with Cumbria’s notorious travelling railway thief Margaret Leck seen wearing an extravagantly collared coat in a police photograph taken on Christmas Eve 1904. She had been arrested over the theft of a trunk in Edinburgh.

Cumbria’s notorious travelling railway thief Margaret Leck seen wearing an extravagantly collared coat in a police photograph taken on Christmas Eve 1904. She had been arrested over the theft of a trunk in Edinburgh. Cumbria’s notorious travelling railway thief Margaret Leck seen wearing an extravagantly collared coat in a police photograph taken on Christmas Eve 1904. She had been arrested over the theft of a trunk in Edinburgh.

Although the typical punishment for those arrested appears to have been a small fine or few days in prison, it seems some judges considered seemingly minor transport crimes to be far more serious than charges of organised theft.

Poor old Edward Meitchie, for example, was sentenced to a full three months with hard labour in prison for the relatively minor offence of loitering at Derby Station in 1922.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Britons buy more than 30 million handsets each year, keeping them for an average of 18 months
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Alloysious Massaquoi, 'G' Hastings and Kayus Bankole of Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize
musicThe surprise winners of the Mercury Prize – and a very brief acceptance speech
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
News
video
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

English Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: English Teacher - Saffron ...

Primary Supply Teacher - Northants

£90 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Primary School Supply Teache...

Maths Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Maths Teacher - Saffro...

Chemistry Teacher - Top School in Malaysia - January Start

£18000 - £20400 per annum + Accommodation, Flights, Medical Cover: Randstad Ed...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain