Britain’s Most Distinguished Crime Historian

Technical gremlins. Couldn’t marry the Introduction to the Donald Rumbelow Siege of Sidney Street Interview to the Interview itself. So I’ve had to put them up separately. This is the Introduction. It’s all self-explanatory from the titles. Anyway, conjoin these two and you’ve got the London Walks Podcast Friday Special for Friday, January 21.


What’s in the box today is an interview with Britain’s most distinguished crime historian, Donald Rumbelow. This is the Friday show, the weekly London Walks podcast. Don’s on the show because he’s a friend and a colleague, he’s a London Walks guide, well, he’s emeritus now, and because he’s an expert on The Siege of Sidney Street. He’s written a highly regarded book on the subject. He had access to documents that nobody else had seen. He met and interviewed family members of some of the Sidney Street criminal gang. 

This month is the anniversary of The Siege of Sidney Street. I did a podcast on it a couple of weeks ago and it just made sense to talk to the foremost expert on the subject. Ergo this interview. Anything else? Most certainly. Don’s the poster boy for the London Walks approach to our thing, guided walking tours of London. Many of you will know Don because you went on his Jack the Ripper walk. You went on his Jack the Ripper Walk because Don is, as The Encyclopedia of Jack the Ripper puts it, ‘internationally recognised as the leading authority on Jack the Ripper.’ He’s the author of the definitive book on the subject. He’s the former Curator of the Police Crime Museum. He’s a two-time Chairman of the Crime Writer’s Association. He’s been the Chief Consultant for every major film and television treatment of the subject for the last 30 years. He’s the Martin Scorcese of our Jack the Ripper walk. He created it, guided it, and still mentors it. Donald Rumbelow is the platonic ideal of what the New York Times had in mind when it said, “London Walks puts you into the hands of an expert on the particular area and topic of a tour…”

Here’s Don on The Siege of Sidney Street. It’s an extraordinary tale. My jaw was hanging open. The police being outgunned, British customs officials waving 50 guns through customs, the bungled prosecution case, one of the gang members going on to be the Robespierre of the Russian Revolution and there being a statue of him on the other side of the iron curtain, I mean what a wowser of a tale. But that’s just to whet your appetite. Here’s Don to serve up the feast. 

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