Secrets – April
1. PATSY ADAMS
Last issue, we reported on gangster film The Hatton Garden Job, based on EC1’s deposit- box heist. It’s reported that the notorious Adams family was involved – brothers Terry (the boss), Tommy and Patrick, who are all now, like the heist gang, senior citizens.
Their “firm” is known as the Clerkenwell Crime Syndicate, or the A-Team, and ours is their manor. Thought to be linked to more than 20 murders and to have racked up millions of pounds, they’d surely have had to give their nod to the plan, at the very least? One brother, though, is already behind bars. At the end of last year, Patrick, aka “Patsy”, was sent down for nine years for shooting an associate, Paul Tiernan, in Clerkenwell, in broad daylight. Tiernan lived to tell the tale.
The victim allegedly drove from Essex to EC1 with a gun in his car in order to have a spat with Adams. He found him on the junction of St John Street and Wyclif Street, there was a fracas and Adams fired the gun. Adams then fled to Holland, sparking an international manhunt. He was charged with attempted murder but put in a plea of GBH with intent – he said he’d gone straight for years and only used the weapon in this instance, in 2013, in self- defence. As one underworld figure once told the Daily Mail, the Adams “make the Krays look like clowns”.
2. ARTHUR SCARGILL
Have you seen Arthur Scargill around Clerkenwell? Few have. He owns a flat here, in the Barbican. In the Eighties, the then leader of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) was in the news as often as Trump is now – but today, aged 79, he’s a recluse. Over the years, the flat has caused much scandal. The three-bed pad in Shakespeare Tower was originally owned by the City of London (a council flat) and rented for Scargill by the NUM as a grace-and-favour home from 1982 onwards. Over the years, the union shelled out thousands of pounds on rent and repairs and when it decided to stop paying, Scargill, once its poster boy, took it to court.
In 1993, during his tenancy, Scargill sought to purchase the flat from the council under the famous Right to Buy scheme launched by his nemesis, Margaret Thatcher – a scheme he was very public in disapproving. His application was turned down on the basis that it wasn’t his main home (one of the terms of Right to Buy).
Fast-forward to 2014, and Scargill finally managed to buy it – and for half-price: a snip at £1 million. He swung it on a technicality, it seems; the papers reported that even though he still lives there most of the time, he sold his primary residence in Yorkshire to his family just months beforehand. At one point in the Nineties, during another financial controversy, the antiperspirant brand Mitchum used his image in their ads, with the slogan “For when you’re really sweating!”.
3. RUGBY SCHOOL
What links Rugby public school and Lamb’s Conduit Street? The former owns the latter – and, naturally, nearby Rugby Street. It’s all part of the London property bequeathed to the school by Elizabethan merchant Lawrence Sheriff. He died, childless, in 1567 and gave his fortune (£50!) and his estate, including the eight acres he owned in Bloomsbury, to found and endow almshouses and a school in Rugby, where he grew up.
Sheriff was a grocer who became “purveyor of spices” to Elizabeth I, before she was queen. He was granted a coat of arms, featuring a griffin. Not much else is known about him. His grave, at the former Greyfriars’ Church in Newgate Street near St Paul’s, was destroyed during the Great Fire (along with the church, which was destroyed a second time in the Blitz – all that remains today is ruins).
This year marks 450 years since Sheriff’s death, and therefore the foundation of Rugby School, and to celebrate, the school is holding a street party in Lamb’s Conduit Street and Rugby Street on 28 April. Events will start at noon and the official stuff (an unveiling of a plaque by writer and former Rugbeian AN Wilson, heralded by trumpets) runs from 6pm to 8pm. Anyone can join in and it’s free – you just need to register in advance: www.rugbyschool.co.uk