Tag Archives: london

There’s A Psychedelic Party On A Shoreditch Rooftop, And You’re Invited

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There’s A Psychedelic Party On A Shoreditch Rooftop, And You’re Invited

There’s A Psychedelic Party On A Shoreditch Rooftop, And You’re Invited

Photo: Graham Turner

Shoreditch’s Queen of Hoxton rooftop bar has taken on the theme A Tribute To Dr Strange this year, in a bid to transport revellers back to the flower power age of the 1960s.

Rainbow food adorns the menu, including this psychedelic ice cream sandwich (clearly e-numbers weren’t a concern in the 60s). Burgers, fish and salads are also on the menu, for those with less of a sweet tooth.

Photo: Graham Turner

Ice cream floats, slushies and themed cocktails will cool rooftop-goers down on those long, hot summer days while they take in views of the City and the East End.

Photo: Graham Turner

The decor of the roof garden is every bit as eye-catching as the food, and best of all, entry is free.

We’re not entirely sure what this is, but we wouldn’t want to meet it down a dark alley. Photo: Graham Turner

Special events take place on the rooftop throughout the summer, including film screenings, flower garland workshops, and, for those who really want to embrace their inner hippie, festival clothing customisation sessions. Check the website for upcoming events (there’s a charge for most events).

Those not gifted with a sweet tooth won’t starve. Photo: Graham Turner

Queen of Hoxton summer rooftop is open 7 days a week, 12pm-10pm (closed for special events — worth checking before you go). Entry is free.

Love this? Check out London’s other rooftop bars open this summer.

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For a few years in the 1960s, London was the world capital of cool

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TO SET THE MOOD MUSIC -THE BRITISH INVASION

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ENGLAND IN THE 60’S ARTICLE 1

Ancient elegance and new opulence are all tangled up in a dazzling blur of op and pop.

Piri Halasz writing in Time magazine, April 1966

For a few years in the 1960s, London was the world capital of cool. When Time magazine dedicated its 15 April 1966 issue to London: the Swinging City, it cemented the association between London and all things hip and fashionable that had been growing in the popular imagination throughout the decade.

ENGLAND IN THE 60’S ARTICLE 2

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London’s remarkable metamorphosis from a gloomy, grimy post-War capital into a bright, shining epicentre of style was largely down to two factors: youth and money. The baby boom of the 1950s meant that the urban population was younger than it had been since Roman times. By the mid-60s, 40% of the population at large was under 25. With the abolition of National Service for men in 1960, these young people had more freedom and fewer responsibilities than their parents’ generation. They rebelled against the limitations and restrictions of post-War society. In short, they wanted to shake things up…

Added to this, Londoners had more disposable income than ever before – and were looking for ways to spend it. Nationally, weekly earnings in the ‘60s outstripped the cost of living by a staggering 183%: in London, where earnings were generally higher than the national average, the figure was probably even greater.

This heady combination of affluence and youth led to a flourishing of music, fashion, design and anything else that would banish the post-War gloom. Fashion boutiques sprang up willy-nilly. Men flocked to Carnaby St, near Soho, for the latest ‘Mod’ fashions. While women were lured to the King’s Rd, where Mary Quant’s radical mini skirts flew off the rails of her iconic store, Bazaar.

Even the most shocking or downright barmy fashions were popularised by models who, for the first time, became superstars. Jean Shrimpton was considered the symbol of Swinging London, while Twiggy was named The Face of 1966. Mary Quant herself was the undisputed queen of the group known as The Chelsea Set, a hard-partying, socially eclectic mix of largely idle ‘toffs’ and talented working-class movers and shakers.

Music was also a huge part of London’s swing. While Liverpool had the Beatles, the London sound was a mix of bands who went on to worldwide success, including The Who, The Kinks, The Small Faces and The Rolling Stones. Their music was the mainstay of pirate radio stations like Radio Caroline and Radio Swinging England. Creative types of all kinds gravitated to the capital, from artists and writers to magazine publishers, photographers, advertisers, film-makers and product designers.

But not everything in London’s garden was rosy. Immigration was a political hot potato: by 1961, there were over 100,000 West Indians in London, and not everyone welcomed them with open arms. The biggest problem of all was a huge shortage of housing to replace bombed buildings and unfit slums and cope with a booming urban population. The badly-conceived solution – huge estates of tower blocks – and the social problems they created, changed the face of London for ever. By the 1970s, with industry declining and unemployment rising, Swinging London seemed a very dim and distant memory.

 

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Introduction by Dominic Sandbrook

In October 1965, the Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, officially opened London’s new Post Office Tower. A gleaming cylinder of metal and glass, the tower could hardly have been a more fitting symbol of the scientific optimism of a self-consciously ‘go-ahead’ decade. It was a monument not just to the white heat of the technological revolution, but to the sheer self-confidence of a society basking in unprecedented prosperity. From the new tower blocks springing up in cities across the country to the radios in teenagers’ bedrooms, from Beatles hits and Bond films to comprehensive schools and nuclear power stations, Sixties Britain seemed – superficially at least – to be a country reborn in the crucible of affluence.

In some ways, the cliches of the 1960s ring absolutely true. With the economy buoyant, unemployment almost non-existent and wages steadily rising, millions of families bought their first cars, washing machines, fridges and televisions. Millions of teenagers, too, were transfixed by the sound of Radio Caroline and the look of Mary Quant — although, then as now, Carnaby Street catered more for tourists and day-trippers than the tiny handful at the cutting edge of fashion. Television transformed the imaginative landscape of almost every household in the country, not merely through pictures of faraway places, but through satirical programmes such as That Was the Week That Was. Even the nation’s diet was changing, transformed not just by the arrival of foreign imports from chicken tikka masala to spaghetti bolognese, but by the relentless advance of the supermarket.

Beneath the glamorous veneer of swinging London, however, Britain under Harold Macmillan, Sir Alec Douglas-Home and Harold Wilson remained a remarkably conservative, even anxious society. Intellectuals worried that affluence and mass communications were undermining traditional working-class culture; in the Pilkington Report, published in 1962, it was hard to miss the disdain for commercial television. Meanwhile, despite the much-discussed stereotype of the ‘permissive society’, popular attitudes to moral and sexual issues remained strikingly slow to change. For all the excitement surrounding the landmark Lady Chatterley’s Lover trial in 1960, or the liberalisation of the divorce, abortion and homosexuality laws later in the decade, most people held similar attitudes to their parents; in this respect, the generation gap was a media invention.

And although students marched on the US embassy in protest at the Vietnam War, or staged sit-ins at universities such as the London School of Economics, it is easy to forget that only one in ten young people became students. Polls showed that like their elders, most young people still supported the death penalty and were uneasy about large-scale Commonwealth immigration; by the end of the decade, it is probably no exaggeration to say that the Conservative maverick Enoch Powell, who was kicked off his party’s front bench after his notorious ‘rivers of blood’ speech, was the most popular politician in the country. Even Mary Whitehouse, a ferocious critic of televised obscenity, especially on the BBC, commanded the instinctive support of tens, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of people.

By the end of the 1960s, the contradictions at the heart of the affluent society were becoming increasingly apparent. Despite Harold Wilson’s promises of endless growth thanks to his National Plan, the economy was running into serious trouble. The Aberfan catastrophe in 1966, the devaluation of the pound a year later and the Ronan Point disaster a year after that all hinted at the political and social traumas that would blight the following decade. Perhaps most ominously, Wilson’s last stab at modernisation, the trade union reforms outlined in the White Paper In Place of Strife, fell apart completely in 1969. A year later, the public punished the Labour government for its perceived under-achievement. A new and much unhappier era was at hand.

Dominic Sandbrook is the author of ‘White Heat: A History of Britain in the Swinging Sixties’.

A brief recollection-doll006

In 1965 My best friend Linda and I were walking barefoot along Tower Bridge when we came face to face with Harold WIlson, he smiled and walked on. We giggled, flabbergasted that he would acknowledge a couple of hippies.

A WALK ACROSS TOWER BRIDGE

 

 

“WHEN IN DOUBT DRINK TEA”   Ana Christy

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Ralph Steadman’s Visions of Fear and Loathing

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Ralph Steadman’s Visions of Fear and Loathing

New documentary ‘For No Good Reason’ celebrates the life and twisted art of a longtime ‘Rolling Stone’ illustrator

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Ralph Steadman
Jeff Vespa/WireImage
April 23, 2014 2:45 PM ET

Ralph Steadman was an underground London cartoonist in 1970 when he flew to the U.S. for the first time to cover the Kentucky Derby for a small periodical. He was paired with a writer that his editor said once worked with the Hells Angels. “The rest of that day blurs into madness,” the scribe in question — one Hunter S. Thompson — later wrote. “Steadman was lucky to get out of Louisville without serious injuries, and I was lucky to get out at all.”

Hunter S. Thompson, 1937-2005

Some months later, Thompson sent Steadman the manuscript for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, a chronicle of countercultural misadventures and madness that follows Thompson and his frog-like attorney speeding through the desert to Sin City in an ether-and-amyls haze. “I started to have growing awareness that anything was up for grabs, the crazier the better,” says Steadman, and the artist’s twisted, alcohol-fueled images complemented the demented prose perfectly. He went on to produce some of the weirdest, funniest and most disturbing art of the 20th century in the pages of Rolling Stone, full of unflinching political and social commentary – from portraying Nixon as a decaying corpse in a 1973 RS cover to a politically doomed McGovern being circled by alligators.

“He so enjoyed the idea of this geek coming from England you know, being so innocent and getting involved in anything that he sort of dangled in front of me,” says Steadman, 77. “He had a devil in him, and it excited the devil in me.”

You’ll see a lot of Steadman’s inner imp in the new documentary For No Good Reason, an ambitious profile of the Fear and Loathing artist shot over 15 years by director Charlie Paul. (It opens in New York on April 25th.) The film features interviews with friends like Rolling Stone founder Jann S. Wenner and Johnny Depp, who spends a day with Steadman preparing to shoot The Rum Diary, based on Thompson’s first novel. “I love Ralph,” says Paul. His comments on money and race were too often ignored while everyone was busy making money.”

Reader’s Poll: The 10 Best Johnny Depp Movies

Despite their professional relationship, Steadman and Thompson were opposites in many ways. Steadman only took drugs once, when Thompson gave him psilocybin after dragging him to the American’s Cup in Rhode Island. (The result: Steadman wound up on a rowboat with two spray cans, trying to write “Fuck the Pope” on the side of a yacht.) But though Thompson “could be an absolute son of a bitch” according to Steadman, the two stayed in touch until the writer’s death in 2005. “He said, Ralph, I’d feel trapped if I didn’t know I could commit suicide at any moment.”

Like his hero Picasso, Steadman maintains a near-religious work ethic — he’s currently working on his second book of extinct bird cartoons. Most mornings, he’s up early at his home in the English countryside, has a coffee and a cigarette, and dips a paintbrush into black India ink. Then he flicks his wrist, making a splat on a piece of cartridge paper, like a fly hitting a windshield. “And then,” he says, “sometimes wonderful things happen.” Adds Steadman, “My father said the only thing he noticed about growing old was that the undertaker started raising his hat to him. He hated people complaining about their age. Just get on with it, for God’s sake.”

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/news/ralph-steadmans-visions-of-fear-and-loathing-20140423#ixzz2zkSSsbZF
Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook

COOL PEOPLE -GARY OLDMAN

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COOL PEOPLE -GARY OLDMAN

My husband and I used to, stay at the “Chelsea ” hotel in N.Y.C which is known for it’s quirky residents of beat poets writers, and musicians. Once we filmed  a reenactment from Sid and Nancy of the demise of Sid when he and Nancy spent their last day in the Chelsea. We loved the movie and watched it many times. We admired the spunk of themcharacters Sid and Nancy, which wasn’t saying much about us!

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GARY OLDMAN INTERVIEW WITH CHARLIE ROSE
A CLIP FROM SID AND NANCY

Quick Facts

  • NAME: Gary Oldman
  • OCCUPATION: Actor, Director
  • BIRTH DATE: March 21, 1958 (Age: 56)
  • PLACE OF BIRTH: London, United Kingdom
  • Full Name: Leonard Gary Oldman
  • ZODIAC SIGN: Aries

Best Known For

Gary Oldman is an English actor and film director whose edgy, intense style has brought him acclaim in such hits as Sid and Nancy, JFK, and The Dark Knight.

Actor Gary Oldman was born in London, England, on March 21, 1958. From the moment his star fist shined as Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious in Sid and Nancy (1986), Oldman has brought a raw, powerful edge to his roles, which have run the gamut from Dracula to Beethoven to Lee Harvey Oswald.

Early Years

Actor. Born Leonard Gary Oldman in London, England, on March 25, 1958. The son of a welder and homemaker, Oldman grew up in a hardscrabble working class neighborhood of south London. His childhood and later adult years were framed by the absence of his father, who left the family when Oldman was just seven years old.

Hardly a committed student, Oldman eventually dropped out of school at the age of 16, when he found work as a store clerk. But after discovering his ability to perform on stage, Oldman returned to the classroom and enrolled in the Young People’s Theater in Greenwich, England.

Oldman’s work in theater class paved the way for a scholarship and even better opportunities at the Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance in London. Oldman graduated in 1979 with a degree in theater arts.

For much of the early 1980s, Oldman kept pace with a frenzied theater schedule. For the young actor, though, the hard work paid off. Among the recognitions he received from this period was the coveted Fringe Award for Best Newcomer for the 1985-86 season for his role in The Pope’s Wedding.

Commercial Success

Gary Oldman’s big introduction to mainstream audiences came as Sid Vicious in the film Sid and Nancy (1986). Critics praised Oldman for his portrayal of the mercurial punk rocker. His followup role as the gay playwright Joe Orton in Prick up Your Ears (1987) won him equal praise.

Oldman’s versatility, in fact, helps explain his stardom. The actor’s ability to make himself a believable Lee Harvey Oswald in JFK (1991) then turn around and command the screen as Dracula in Francis Ford Coppola‘s Bram Stroker’s Dracula (1992) is evidence of this.

For much of the 1990s Oldman’s talents were on full display. His films included The Scarlet Letter (1995), The Fifth Element (1997), and Air Force One (1997). In 1998 he stepped off the stage to take on the role of director in Nil by Mouth, a heartbreaking look at the life of one working class family in South London.

For Oldman, who wrote the script for the movie, the film touched some familiar ground, mirroring in some respects the troubled, up-and-down life he’d known as a child.

As the 2000s took shape, Oldman’s career continued to roll forward. The actor took on roles in a variety of films, from the Harry Potter series, to the Batman franchise, to lending his voice to the animated science fiction movie Planet 51 (2009).

Personal Life

For Oldman, a recovering alcoholic who claims he once drank two bottles of vodka a day, professional triumphs have sometimes mbeen met with personal setbacks. He’s been married four times, including to actress Uma Thurman and model Donya Fiorentiono.

Bob Dylan to exhibit new artwork at National Portrait Gallery

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Bob Dylan to exhibit new artwork at National Portrait Gallery
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Bob Dylan will exhibit 12 new pastel portraits at the National Portrait   Gallery later this month.

Nina Felix, Bob Dylan Photo: Bob Dylan
A new collection of 12 pastel portraits by Bob   Dylan will be exhibited at the National   Portrait Gallery later this month, it has been announced.

The exhibition, called Bob Dylan: Face Value, represents the latest artwork by   the singer, who has been painting since the late Sixties but who only   started exhibiting his work six years ago. This is the first time Dylan’s   work will have been shown in a British museum.

Unusually for the National Portrait Gallery, the portraits are not of   characters from British public life, but are a combination of real and   fictitious characters, which have been constructed from Dylan’s imagination   and personal memories.

Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, said: “Bob   Dylan is one of the most influential cultural figures of our time. He has   always created a highly visual world either with his words or music, or in   paints and pastels.

“I am delighted that we can now share these 12 sketches which were made   for display at the National Portrait Gallery.”

Dylan, whose real name is Robert Allen Zimmerman, has previously had his work   exhibited at the Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz in Germany, the Halcyon Gallery in   London and the the Gagosian Gallery in New York.

Though Dylan is respected as an artist, the exhibition is also likely to   attract plenty of interest from music fans, keen to gain an insight into the   mind of a singer who has recorded 46 albums and sold 110 million records   worldwide. He is due to start a tour of the UK in November.

Art   historian John Elderfield described his art as “products of the same   extraordinary, inventive imagination, the same mind and eye, by the same   story-telling artist, for whom showing and telling – the temporal and the   spatial, the verbal and the visual – are not easily separated”.

Skip Sharpe, Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan: Face Value will be in the Contemporary Collection displays,   Room 40, on the Ground Floor Lerner Galleries, National Portrait Gallery,   London, August 24 2013 – 5 January 2014

A new collection of 12 pastel portraits by Bob   Dylan will be exhibited at the National   Portrait Gallery later this month, it has been announced.

The exhibition, called Bob Dylan: Face Value, represents the latest artwork by   the singer, who has been painting since the late Sixties but who only   started exhibiting his work six years ago. This is the first time Dylan’s   work will have been shown in a British museum.

Unusually for the National Portrait Gallery, the portraits are not of   characters from British public life, but are a combination of real and   fictitious characters, which have been constructed from Dylan’s imagination   and personal memories.

Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, said: “Bob   Dylan is one of the most influential cultural figures of our time. He has   always created a highly visual world either with his words or music, or in   paints and pastels.

“I am delighted that we can now share these 12 sketches which were made   for display at the National Portrait Gallery.”

Dylan, whose real name is Robert Allen Zimmerman, has previously had his work   exhibited at the Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz in Germany, the Halcyon Gallery in   London and the the Gagosian Gallery in New York.

Though Dylan is respected as an artist, the exhibition is also likely to   attract plenty of interest from music fans, keen to gain an insight into the   mind of a singer who has recorded 46 albums and sold 110 million records   worldwide. He is due to start a tour of the UK in November.

Art   historian John Elderfield described his art as “products of the same   extraordinary, inventive imagination, the same mind and eye, by the same   story-telling artist, for whom showing and telling – the temporal and the   spatial, the verbal and the visual – are not easily separated”.

 

 

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 Dylan Paintings Draw Scrutiny
By DAVE ITZKOFF
Bob Dylan in the late 1980s. He has proved elusive when questioned on his sources.Gagosian GalleryBob Dylan in the late 1980s. He has proved elusive when questioned on his sources.
"Trade" by Bob Dylan.Marcus Yam for The New York Times“Trade” by Bob Dylan.
A Henri Cartier-Bresson photograph from 1948.Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum PhotosA Henri Cartier-Bresson photograph from 1948.

The freewheeling artistic style of Bob Dylan, who has drawn on a variety of sources in creating his music and has previously raised questions of attribution in his work, is once again stirring debate — this time over an exhibition of his paintings at the Gagosian Gallery on the Upper East Side.

When the gallery announced the exhibition, called “The Asia Series,” this month, it said the collection of paintings and other artwork would provide “a visual journal” of Mr. Dylan’s travels “in Japan, China, Vietnam and Korea,” with “firsthand depictions of people, street scenes, architecture and landscape.”

But since the exhibition opened on Sept. 20, some fans and Dylanologists have raised questions about whether some of these paintings are based on Mr. Dylan’s own experiences and observations, or on photographs that are widely available and that he did not take.

A wide-ranging discussion at the Bob Dylan fan Web site Expecting Rain has pointed out similarities between several works in “The Asia Series” and existing or even well-known photographs — for example, between a painting by Mr. Dylan depicting two men and a Henri Cartier-Bresson photograph of two men, one a eunuch who served in the court of the Dowager Empress Tzu Hsi.

Bob Dylan's painting "Opium," on view at the Gagosian Gallery in Manhattan.Marcus Yam for The New York TimesBob Dylan’s painting “Opium,” on view at the Gagosian Gallery in Manhattan.
Léon Busy's photo "Woman Smoking Opium," similar to the painting, is part of a debate about Mr. Dylan's work.Musee d’Albert KahnLéon Busy’s photo “Woman Smoking Opium,” similar to the painting, is part of a debate about Mr. Dylan’s work.

Observers have pointed out that a painting by Mr. Dylan called “Opium,” which is used to illustrate a Web page for the “Asia Series” exhibition on the Gagosian site, appears to be closely modeled on a picture by Léon Busy, an early-20th-century photographer.

Separately, Michael Gray, in a post on his blog, Bob Dylan Encyclopedia, points out that a painting by Mr. Dylan depicting three young men playing a sidewalk board game is nearly identical to a photograph taken by Dmitri Kessel.

Mr. Gray, an author who has written extensively about Mr. Dylan’s work and its artistic influences, writes on his blog:

“The most striking thing is that Dylan has not merely used a photograph to inspire a painting: he has taken the photographer’s shot composition and copied it exactly. He hasn’t painted the group from any kind of different angle, or changed what he puts along the top edge, or either side edge, or the bottom edge of the picture. He’s replicated everything as closely as possible. That may be a (very self-enriching) game he’s playing with his followers, but it’s not a very imaginative approach to painting. It may not be plagiarism but it’s surely copying rather a lot.”

Others commenting at Expecting Rain were less concerned, like one using the screen name restless, who wrote: “ ‘quotation’ and ‘borrowing’ are as old as the hills in poetry, traditional songs, and visual art.”

“There’s no need to be an apologist for that,” the post continued. “It’s often a part of making art, that’s all. Good grief, y’all.”

On Monday a press representative for the Gagosian Gallery said in a statement: “While the composition of some of Bob Dylan’s paintings is based on a variety of sources, including archival, historic images, the paintings’ vibrancy and freshness come from the colors and textures found in everyday scenes he observed during his travels.”

The gallery also pointed to an interview with Mr. Dylan in its exhibition catalog, in which he is asked whether he paints from sketches or photographs. He responds:

“I paint mostly from real life. It has to start with that. Real people, real street scenes, behind the curtain scenes, live models, paintings, photographs, staged setups, architecture, grids, graphic design. Whatever it takes to make it work. What I’m trying to bring out in complex scenes, landscapes, or personality clashes, I do it in a lot of different ways. I have the cause and effect in mind from the beginning to the end. But it has to start with something tangible.”

Mr. Dylan has previously proved elusive to critics and observers who have tried to pin him down on source material. In 2006 it was shown that lyrics on Mr. Dylan’s No. 1 album “Modern Times” bore a strong resemblance to the poems of Henry Timrod, who composed verses about the Civil War and died in 1867. Lyrics from a previous album, “Love and Theft,” were similar to passages from the gangster novel “Confessions of a Yakuza,” by the Japanese writer Junichi Saga.

In a 2008 essay for The New Haven Review, Scott Warmuth, a radio disc jockey and music director who has closely studied Mr. Dylan’s work, said that Mr. Dylan’s 2004 memoir, “Chronicles: Volume One,” had adapted many phrases and sentences from works by other writers, including the novelist Jack London, the poet Archibald MacLeish and the author Robert Greene.

Mr. Dylan did not comment on those similarities then, and a representative for him declined to comment on the Gagosian exhibition.

6 DARING TRAIN ROBBERIES

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train-robbery

October 21, 2013

6 Daring Train Robberies
By Evan Andrews

Almost as long as there have been trains, there have been train robberies. These dramatic stickups have become the stuff of legend thanks to dime novels and Hollywood westerns, but they also account some of the most fascinating—and lucrative—true crimes ever committed. From high profile capers by the likes of Jesse James and Butch Cassidy to a raid by a gang of Indian political dissidents, find out more about six of history’s most audacious rail heists.

train robbery1. Jesse James’ Iowa Train Robbery
Notorious outlaw Jesse James is best remembered as a bank robber, but he was also one of the first bandits to hold up a moving train. The earliest of these heists came on the evening of July 21, 1873, near Adair, Iowa. After gathering information on the train schedule, James and his gang loosened a section of track on the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway. As their target rounded a blind curve, the thieves used a rope to dislodge the track, causing the locomotive to derail and topple into a ditch. The crash killed the engineer and badly injured another man, but the rest of the cars lurched to a stop on the tracks.

Disguised behind white cloth masks, two of the robbers—most likely Jesse and his brother, Frank—boarded the train cars and sought out a safe belonging to the U.S. Express Company. The gang had been led to believe it would contain a large cache of gold bullion, but upon opening it they found only a meager $2,000. Disappointed, the men resorted to robbing the stunned passengers of their money and valuables. Despite its modest haul, the Adair robbery shocked the public for its sheer boldness, and went a long way toward establishing Jesse James’ reputation as a folk hero and celebrity criminal.

2. The Great Train Robbery of 1963
The biggest train robbery in British history came in 1963, when a gang of 15 thieves stole more than $7 million in banknotes—the equivalent of $60.5 million today—from a Royal Mail train. In the early morning of August 8, the robbers rigged a false red signal light near a section of track called Sears Crossing. When the locomotive stopped at the light, more than a dozen men in ski masks appeared, beat the driver with a metal rod and uncoupled most of the cars. After forcing the driver to move the remaining cars to a rendezvous point a mile up the track, the thieves formed a human chain and quickly transferred 120 bags of money—most of them containing bills set to be removed from circulation—into three waiting vehicles.

After escaping the scene, the robbers hid out for several days in a nearby farmhouse, where they celebrated by playing Monopoly with their two-and-a-half tons of stolen cash. Spooked by the high police presence in the area, the men eventually divided the loot and split up. Police were later called to the scene, where they discovered heaps of evidence—including fingerprints on the gang’s Monopoly board—that helped them track down the thieves. Twelve of the gang members were eventually arrested and sentenced to a total of 307 years in prison.

3. The Great Gold Robbery of 1855
Most train robberies are high profile crimes committed by armed bandits, but the Great Gold Robbery was the railway equivalent of a cat burglary. The heist was discovered in May 1855 in Paris, when authorities found that the gold in four lock boxes shipped from London had been partially replaced with lead shot. The boxes had been kept in double-locked safes and showed no signs of having been tampered with. At some point during the train journey between England and France, around 12,000 British pounds worth of gold bullion—the equivalent of some $1.5 million in modern day currency—had simply vanished.

As police would later learn, the crime was a carefully planned inside job. Working with a stationmaster and a train guard, masterminds Edward Agar and William Pierce had obtained wax imprints of the safe keys and painstakingly made copies. On the night of the robbery, the men disguised themselves as gentlemen and boarded the train in London carrying luggage filled with lead. Once in transit, Agar and Pierce stowed away in the baggage car and used their copied keys to open the safes. After switching the gold with their dummy lead weights, they resealed the boxes and disguised the loot in their luggage before exiting the train in Dover. The heist would have been the perfect crime, but Agar later confessed to authorities after he was arrested for a separate offense. Police rounded up his accomplices shortly thereafter.

4. Kakori Train Robbery
Most rail heists are inspired by blind greed, but many in India saw 1925’s Kakori Train Robbery as an act of political protest. The holdup was the work of the Hindustan Republican Association, a band of militant revolutionaries who sought to free India from British colonial rule. The HRA often resorted to robbery to fund their rebellion, and on August 9, 1925, they set their sights on a British train operating in what is now Uttar Pradesh.

As the train neared the town of Kakori, ten armed revolutionaries led by Ram Prasad Bismil overpowered the guards, hijacked the locomotive and brought all the cars to a screeching halt. While the rest of the men stood guard, four robbers made their way to the guard’s van and used hammers to batter their way into a British safe filled with moneybags. All ten of the revolutionaries escaped without injury, but in the chaos of the heist one passenger was killed in an accidental shooting. The men eluded capture for over a month, but by September the train robbers had been arrested along with around 30 other revolutionaries. Bismil and three other men were later executed by hanging in 1927.

5. The Rondout Train Robbery
The biggest rail heist in American history was the work of the “Newton Boys,” a band of four Texas brothers who robbed at least 60 banks and six trains during their lucrative criminal careers. The caper came on the night of June 12, 1924. Working on a tip from a crooked postal inspector, two of the Newton brothers boarded a mail train on the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad. After pulling guns on the engineer, the men forced the train to stop near Rondout, Illinois, where the rest of the gang waited with a small fleet of cars.

The thieves then threw bottles of noxious formaldehyde into the windows of the passenger cars, leaving the train’s 17 armed mail clerks gasping for air. When the guards surrendered, the bandits made off with several mail sacks containing a staggering $3 million in cash and bonds. The gang escaped in their cars, but in the confusion of the robbery an accomplice accidentally shot one of the Newton brothers several times. The thieves were later arrested after they tried to get medical assistance in Chicago.

6. The Wilcox Train Robbery
In the late 19th century, Robert LeRoy Parker—better known as “Butch Cassidy”—led a gang of train robbers who went by the colorful nickname “The Wild Bunch.” This band of stickup men was responsible for several railway heists, but perhaps none was as famous as 1899’s Wilcox Train Robbery in Wyoming. The raid began in the early morning of June 2, when several Wild Bunch members flagged down the first part of a two-section train operated by the Union Pacific Railroad. After the locomotive came to a halt, two masked men boarded it and ordered the engineer to cross a nearby bridge. As soon as the last car cleared the gap, the bandits dynamited the bridge, stranding the approaching second train on the other side.

Having isolated the train’s first section, the thieves ordered the clerks in the express and mail cars to open their doors. When the men refused, the robbers simply the blew the doors off with sticks of dynamite, pushed aside the dazed inhabitants, and then used even more explosives to crack open a safe. In total, the gang made off with around $30,000 in unsigned banknotes before disappearing into the mountains. Their exploits as railway bandits would later help inspire the seminal 1903 silent film “The Great Train Robbery.”

MILLICAN DALTON A MAN AHEAD OF HIS TIME

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Millican Dalton 
(1867-1947) – a man ahead of his time
vegetarian, pacifist, eccentric, troglodyte, mountain guide, insurance clerk
Forsaking his job as a London insurance clerk, Millican Dalton dropped out long before it became fashionable or even acceptable.

He lived under canvas, in a cave or in his woodland hut for the most part of his life. He styled himself ‘Professor of Adventure’ and offered ‘Camping Holidays, Mountain rapid shooting, Rafting and Hair’s breadth escapes.’

Primarily remembered for his eccentric asceticism, Millican Dalton was a man who had the courage to follow his dreams and to live by his convictions. Dissatisfied with the life dealt him, he created his own.

He had a disdain for modern urban materialism, rejecting it in favour of a life of stoic simplicity. Millican Dalton lived a life at one with nature – growing his own food and sewing his own clothes. He was a teetotaler, a vegetarian, a socialist and a staunch pacifist.

Many people have considered walking out of the office and chucking it all in for a life of simplicity. Millican Dalton lived that dream.

“Don’t waste words
Jump to conclusions”
 
Millican Dalton
“You can’t feel lonely
with nature as your companion”
Millican Dalton neither wrote books nor painted pictures. His legacy can be difficult to asses and easy to dismiss. Having lived a life outwith contemporary norms, it is easy to mistake his eccentricity for affectation. Indeed he is often defined by his odd habits, his homemade clothes, his cave dwelling or his mountain guiding. All these things were true, but they were merely consequeces of his quest.

Millican Dalton was many things, but first and foremost he was a man in search of a simple life.

Millican Dalton lead a very conventional existence, when, at the age of 36, he broke with irksome conformity and shallow materialism in favour of a nobler existence. He cast off all that weighed him down and rejoiced in what remained.

Millican Dalton was unmoved by the whirlpool of ego, aspiration, envy and material acquisition that keep the rest of us in our place.

He was an ascetic for our modern age – a man who will be remembered by many and emulated by few.

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LONDON-AN UNDERGROUND ROYAL MAIL TRAIN LINE

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As a former Londoner, born & raised, who thought she knew everything there was to know about the city, finding out that there’s been a secret Royal Mail underground  train line beneath our feet for over 85 years was just a little bit shocking. A reader sent me a tip this morning about a group of urban explorers who had managed to infiltrate this notoriously hard-to-reach underworld. The Royal Mail’s underground ‘mini’ railway was used to take letters (and possibly workers) along the tracks to different station/sorting offices stretching from Paddington to Whitechapel. In 2002, it had become an uneconomical service, losing an estimated £1.2M a day, and quietly shut down.

For almost a decade, the abandoned stations and tracks have stood in silence; only empty mail trolleys creaking from the drafts, outdated telephones sitting on abandoned control desks, trains mid-track and frozen in time.

To the thrill-seeking explorers of Silent UK, the Rail Mail was “London’s final unconquered Grail”. With most remaining access points covered in concrete or tucked away in secured live postal depots, “it is without a doubt the Mail Rail sits at the throne of London exploration, laughing maniacally at the puny adventurers unable to even stare it in the eyes without bursting into flames. There is, and will never be anything like it again, its uniqueness forever unrivalled,” recalls the anonymous author at Silent UK. I suppose every city needs its secrets.

Relive about this extraordinary adventure into the London underworld with Silent UKdetailing the full story behind the Mail Rail, how they infiltrated it and what they found. Hats off to the team for taking such a risk. Full article anMORE photographs HERE!

WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE MAIL RAIL??

Despite sitting as ghost stations and tunnels for almost a decade now, in October last month it was quietly revealed that an architectural firm’s plans for an underground mushroom garden north of Oxford Street have been shortlisted in a civic bid to find out-of-the-box ideas for bringing life back to abandoned industrial infrastructure.

Similar to the idea of the High Line, where derelict railways were successfully converted intourban parks in Paris and New York, architects of the Camden-based firm Fletcher Priest are hoping their linear subterranean fungal garden will soon become a reality.

Seemingly still trying to keep the existence of the old Mail Rail quiet, The Mayor of London, in conjuction with the Landscape Institute and Garden Museum, are still keeping plans rather hush-hush. My guess is they don’t want to encourage unchaperoned exploration of what is potentially a hazardous abandoned tunnel system.

But architect Nick Worley at Fletcher Priest says the dark, damp, environment of the abandoned tunnels is perfect for sporing toadstools, puffballs and edible mushrooms.

“The idea was to have a linear park with a restaurant at either end serving dishes made from produce grown in the park,” says Worley. “Mushrooms were a natural fit.”

Is London ready to reveal one of it’s greatest secrets?

via Westend Extra

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This photograph comes from Flickr user Richard Pope who seems to have infiltrated the Mail Rail in 2006. He seems to have stumbled upon an old passenger cart in the abandoned mini railway, showing that mail wasn’t the only thing traveling through those tunnels! My guess is this gem was probably removed before Silent UK’s expedition last year. Hopefully it’s safely stored away and we’ll one day see it in a museum.
 

Thanks to Silent UK and Richard Pope for being such bad-ass explorers!

Also special thanks to my reader who sent me this incredible tip, and thanks to all readers that often send me the interesting things they come across for my bed time reading!