Search

ADVERTISER 150: Amaizing Gun Battle in Siege Sidney Street makes headlines in 1911 around the world

PUBLISHED: 19:00 29 November 2016 | UPDATED: 21:43 29 November 2016

1911: Siege of Sidney Streethit the headlines

1911: Siege of Sidney Streethit the headlines

Archant

This nightly series marking the East London Advertiser’s 150th anniversary this month has caught up with the 1911 Siege of Sidney Street, with a dramatic gun battle between Peter the Painter’s anarchist gang cornered by police in a Whitechapel tenement block after a shoot-out two weeks earlier during an abortive robbery attempt in a jeweller’s in Houndsditch...

1911: Home Secretary Winston Churchill (in top hat) witnesses Seige of Sidneuy Atreet1911: Home Secretary Winston Churchill (in top hat) witnesses Seige of Sidneuy Atreet

1911: The Siege of Sidney Street is reported under the East London Advertiser headlines:

AMAZING STREET BATTLE IN MILE END!

Guards, Artillery, Armed Police and Firemen Held at Bay.

Astounding scenes in attempt to arrest two murderers.

2011: East End firemen mark 100th anniversary of Siege of Sidney Street [Advertiser photo: Joe Lord]2011: East End firemen mark 100th anniversary of Siege of Sidney Street [Advertiser photo: Joe Lord]

This cobbled side turning off the Whitechapel Road becomes one of the most notorious thoroughfares in Europe on January 3, 1911, after two anarchists were left dead in a 13-hour siege.

Police draw a cordon around Martin’s Mansions at 100, Sidney-street, in Mile End Old Town, after having received information that two members of Peter Piaktow’s ruthless gang of anarchists are in hiding there.

Paiktow—known as ‘Peter the Painter’—and his gang had been involved in the Houndsditch murders two weeks before which left three unarmed police officers dead in a shoot-out following an abortive raid on Henry Harris’s jewellery store. Here’s how the Advertiser ran the story of events at Sidney Street:

The anarchists were hold up in Martin’s Mansions, Sidney-street. The police surrounded the area at 2am to ward off the criminals’ escape.

2011: Members of London Fire Brigade mark 100th anniversary of Siege of Sidney Street [Advertiser photo: Joe Lord]2011: Members of London Fire Brigade mark 100th anniversary of Siege of Sidney Street [Advertiser photo: Joe Lord]

But the inmates knew what was at hand and were prepared to sell their liberty dearly. A revolver fight ensued, during which Detective Sergeant Leeson was shot in the chest.

Reinforcements were sent for, the number of men now numbering about 1,000, and vigorous fire was maintained on the criminals’ fortress.

Soon a mass of people gathered around the battle scene. Residents in Sidney-street rented out rooms to the curious folk and the crowd seemed unconcerned about the bullets flying about.

Police resorted to different tactics, one of which involved a dummy policeman which was drawn upright in front of one of the windows opposite and drew a heavy revolver fire from the anarchists.

The “Ping-Pong” of the shots rang out frequently and at 11.30am the Home Secretary, Mr Winston Churchill, arrived at the scene to oversee the progression. He brought with him the Scots Guards from The Tower of London and the fire was greatly increased.

Eight policemen and two bystanders were injured and a sheepdog and a cat also fell victims to the anarchists’ revolvers. One of the injured, Sergeant Chick, had the honour of being taken to hospital in Mr Churchill’s motor-car.

At 12.50pm it was noticed that the house which hid the two assailants was well ablaze. Police expected the two besieged to rush out of the flames, but nothing of the sort occurred.

Soon it became manifest that no-one could remain alive in the inferno. At 2.20pm the flames had been subdued and firemen entered the gutted building. On the first floor they made the gruesome discovery of a charred body, later identified as Fritz Svaars.

Five hours later, detectives uncovered the second body under a heap of debris, later established as that of William Sokolov. No trace was found of the notorious Peter the Painter.

A party of Royal Engineers had been requested from Chatham to effect an underground entrance to the house, but upon the arrival they found that the house had already burnt down.

But the toll from the Siege of Sidney-street doesn’t en d there. The tragic heart attack of a 74-year-old ex-Metropolitan policeman was recorded during the siege.

Retired Mr James Buckingham returned home in an excited state after having witnessed the battle. He exclaimed to his wife: “It’s awful”—then sank back into his armchair, dead.

Latest East London News Stories

19:10

The brother of murdered aid worker David Haines who was decapitated by jihadists in Syria has been giving a talk to school pupils in London’s East End as part of a national programme to stop radicalisation.

A man who attempted to blame a young child for the death of a 13-week-old baby has been found guilty of the tot’s murder.

12:41

Council staff running children’s nurseries in London’s East End could take industrial action if plans to privatise Early Years services go ahead.

Three men have been arrested on suspicion of murder in connection with the fatal shooting of a 19-year-old in Ilford last Tuesday.

10:00

The last batch of tower bells has been cast at the historic Whitechapel foundry at the premises it has occupied since 1738.

Detectives continue to appeal for witnesses, one week on from the murder of a 19-year-old.

Yesterday, 17:45

The man who launched Britain’s prestigious Limelight film awards in London’s East End after changing his life from a school ‘drop out’ to a successful film-maker is now taking on the City of London.

Yesterday, 13:36

Primary pupils got a firey introduction to science when they visited east London’s Swanlea Secondary for the day.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Competitions

Having a brand new kitchen is something that lots of people want but can only dream of. Sadly keeping up to date and making our living spaces as nice as they can be is a costly and incredibly stressful business. Even a fresh coat of paint makes all the difference but isn’t easy or quick.

Who wouldn’t love the chance to go on a shopping spree. Imagine being able to walk into a shop and choose whatever your heart desires without having to worry about how much it costs.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Docklands and East London Advertiser
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now