Scuttlers


Scuttlers

“A scuttler is a lad, usually between the ages of 14 and 18, or even 19, and scuttling consists of the fighting of two opposed bands of youths, who are armed with various weapons.”Alexander Devine, "Scuttlers and Scuttling: Their Prevention and Cure." (Manchester, 1890).

Scuttling gangs were neighbourhood-based youth gangs that were formed in working-class districts across Manchester and the surrounding areas, including Salford and Bradford. Gang conflicts erupted in Manchester in the early 1870s and went on sporadically for thirty years, declining in frequency and severity by the late 1890s.

Intense territorial pride was reflected in the names adopted by scuttling gangs. For example, "Bengal Tigers" (from Bengal Street in Ancoats) and the more simply named "Hope Street, Salford" and “Hanky Park”

Scuttlers distinguished themselves from other young men in working-class neighbourhoods by wearing a uniform of wooden soled and iron clad clogs, bell-bottomed trousers, cut like a sailor's (“bells”) that measured fourteen inches round the knee and twenty-one inches round the foot and fancy silk scarves. Their hair was cut short at the back and sides, but they grew long fringes that were plastered down on the forehead over the left eye with oil or soap. Peaked caps were also worn tilted to the left to display the fringe. The usual weapon of a scuttler was a thick leather belt with a heavy metal buckles and decorations, wrapped tightly around the wrist so that the metal parts could be used to strike at opponents.


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