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The Cruel Streets Revisited

Former Cardiff Police Detective, John Wake, reveals stories from the city’s past that highlights the struggles of the lower classes. Justice was harsh, and lawlessness was rife. Seen from a police viewpoint, but with a social perspective rather than authoritarian.

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(8 customer reviews)


Standard UK delivery 5-7 days



In this book we look at a side of Cardiff’s history that wasn’t wholesome, yet it reflects the times – the struggles and poverty. Many people today have a romantic or nostalgic view of their city’s past. They imagine the old back streets populated by
rough-and- ready ‘Jack The Lads’ and Robin Hood-style characters, They imagine that, while times were hard, people were poor but generally happy. Think again.

The historical voices of law and order give a different perspective to history. But this book isn’t written from the viewpoint of the governing classes or in the wider terms of national economics or social commentary. Instead,it portrays the realities of pounding the beat, often alone, in streets that were populated by those without financial advantages, education, or opportunities for upward mobility. Fuelled by alcohol, desperation, and poverty, the people who came into contact with the law had day-to-day struggles that most of us can barely imagine. The social deprivation, the inequalities of class, gender, race,
and age, these were the factors that led many to crime as a means of daily survival.

This book tells the story of some of the real characters, sometimes merely nameless records in police files or newspapers. Others that we follow were better documented. This is a collection of reports that bring to life the meaner aspects of Cardiff’s back streets.

Temperancetown, Tiger Bay, Butetown – all names that, for some, conjure up pictures of complete lawlessness. How did that happen? How did these small areas of a large city attract such a reputation?

This book is compiled from extensive research in public archives, from conversations with local people, and from the personal experience of a police officer who worked in Cardiff for over 25 years. John Wake offers us snippets of news, and fuller stories, that paint a picture of Cardiff’s history as lived by its poorest and most vulnerable citizens.

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Wordcatcher Publishing


HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain / Wales




Wordcatcher History


9781912056712, 9781912056729, 9781912056460, 9781912056484

8 reviews for The Cruel Streets Revisited

  1. Paul

    Its interesting john ,to know about these tales that went on that people would not know about if it wasn’t people like you thank you for sharing these stories. Via Facebook.

  2. Colin Edwards – Australia.

    Such sad stories of the time but brought to life with colourful information of the facts and opinion generated around the charged. Always good to read your work.

  3. Amazon customer via Amazon

    A very enjoyable book to read if you like history.

  4. Amazon Customer via Amazon

    Outstanding book in every regard.
    The front cover should have a picture of a ‘Dr Who Tardis’ on the front…WHY?…because the author catapults you back in time so you feel immersed., if not looking over the shoulders of those named in the case files…it’s almost like ‘being there’ as it were. Pick up an old and new map of Cardiff and walk the routes described and you’ll understand the stories coming to life (or death in many cases). Truly a well researched book and a must to read.

  5. Annette Douglas via Amazon

    Very interesting insights.

  6. EC via Amazon

    Excellent read re history of Cardiff and would be a valuable resource for local historical society and heritage projects

  7. Amazon customer via Amazon

    Superb book, found it very difficult to put down. Amazing to see how Cardiff has developed from a Borough into a large City.

  8. Andrew Smith via Amazon

    A well written account of local Cardiff history.
    In depth research accompanied by a readable style.

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