‘Jack the Razor Grinder’ morphed into Mad Jack Matthews. His wife had helped to murder a woman in one of the low-class beer houses off Bridge Street. The four cottages adjacent to the pub were in the occupation of rapacious women, egged on by drunken and violent men. The scene set was one out of hell.
A crowd gathered, the police called for reinforcements, which came in the guise of the both town and county men. The crowd grew into a mob, described as thousands, and they attacked. It was said ‘they were demonical with rage’. There were cries of ‘Burn them down’, ‘kill them all’, the stones were hurled, and the fronts of the houses battered in.
The occupants ran out of the back doors into the little alleys. The houses had tiny bedrooms and were themselves built with low roofs. All the windows in all the houses were smashed out and fires were lit. It was noted that the rear upstairs windows of each house had ladders placed outside for quick escapes from the police should they attack. There was a labyrinth of lanes and escape routes behind numerous ale and beerhouses of the area. The horse drawn fire engine was in attendance. The police used batons to beat away the mob.
Jack the Razor Grinder escaped. The houses, which witnesses said, were rotten with ‘effluvia’, excrement and filth of ‘wayward lives’ were subsequently demolished. This mob incident led to Mad Jack moving to Charlotte Street.
Discover more about this story in Cardiff – Those Cruel and Savage Streets.