Letter: Cut-throat enterprise of the Victorians

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The Independent Online
Sir: The cartoon illustrating the article 'Truth behind a mythical golden age' (10 September) of a 'man being attacked while travelling by omnibus' is not quite what the caption implies.

'The cads' are bus conductors - you can see their licence badges round their necks - quarrelling over whose horse bus should get the passenger] In the spirit of unrestricted competition between the numerous bus companies that plied the same streets of mid-Victorian London, such scuffles over potential passengers were not uncommon.

Incidentally, the garrotting gangs that caused such panic among the public in the 1860s suddenly attracted government notice when they garrotted an MP, a Mr Pilkington, in 1862. At this, according to Cassell's History of England, 'The Police became suddenly active and arrested a number of known criminals on suspicion; these were tried en masse . . . and sentenced to heavy terms of penal servitude.'

Yours faithfully,

NICHOLAS MADDREN

Baldock,

Hertfordshire

10 September

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