In the articles about my mother I mentioned that her husband - my namesake - had been involved with the fringes of London gangland. According to my mother he had been a "runner" for a Jewish gangster named Alf Solomons who was a confederate of the notorious Darby Sabini. Often called Charles Sabini, Darby (a nickname that probably referred to him being left-handed) was actually Otavio Sabini and the leader of a gang based in Clerkenwell who preyed on the racetracks in the south of England. I had only just finished reading a biography of Sabini (a very poorly researched and written one full of silly mistakes and a minimum of good research) when I became aware of the book illustrated above. Brian McDonald's GANGS OF LONDON superbly chronicles the story of London gangland during the first fifty years of the last century and will tell you more about Sabini in a few pages than the earlier book I'd read. The book features some fascinating pictures including one of Sabini as part of a group photo featured on the cover of the book). Pictures of Darby are scarce although one of my correspondents recently sent me a (I believe) a hitherto unpublishe picture of Darby taken in Brighton towards the end of his life (see below). McDonald's book does have a picture of Alf Solomon as well as more notorious gangsters like Jack Spot, Billy Hill and Albert Dimes. My biggest surprise came in a section on a character called Ruby Sparks where it mentions a new recruit to his gang called...Ernie Harris! Given Ernest's acknowledged involvement with characters like Solomons, Sabini and Billy Hill, it seems likely that this was indeed my namesake. I can recommend GANGS OF LONDON as a first class piece of research and a very entertaining read.
|Darby Sabini, probably in his garden in Brighton, taken in the late 1940's.|
Finally, I can now offer photocopies of many of the family documents I possess. More on this soon.