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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee