RUNNER BY ROBERT NEWTON – GOOGLE SLIDES PRESENTATION SPEAKER NOTES
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|Welcome to our Online Runner journey through the streets of Melbourne based on our long-running school tour.
During this tour we follow Charlie Feehan’s route as he races from Richmond to the Orient Hotel in Bourke Street carrying hid egg. We also visit true places on the route both past and resent connected to the life and times of gangster Squizzy Taylor. You will also do readings from author Mathew Newton’s novel connected to these places. https://melbournewalks.com.au/extracts-from-the-novel-runner/
And each of us can participate by adopting an identity from the book and real life events.
Leslie Theodore Taylor or Squizzy 1888-1927 was born in an era which included two economic depressions, a world war and a deadly pandemic which killed 50 million people worldwide. The tough (and ruthless) survived. Many sought relief and entertainment – booze, sex and gambling – all of which Squizzy and his gang the Bourke Street Rats or Richmond ‘Push’ supplied at a handsome profit. This is the world in which our fictional teenager Charlie Feehan is set.
|4||Film clip exploring the background 1920s Melbourne|
|5||Squizzy Taylor 15 years old
A teenage boy from Richmond in a police line-up. Who is this? Is this Charlie’s future?
|6||Squizzy Taylor police mug shot
Is this Charlie’s future? Blackmailer, sly grogger, jury rigger, pimp, thief and sneak murderer? Is Charlie going to follow his father’s principles or Squizzy? The novel Runner explores Charlie’s responses to this and other challenges
|7||The Race Begins
Charlie commences the race of his life from Squizzy Taylor’s former house at 18 Darlinghurst Street. The four competitors are carrying unbroken coloured eggs. What colours? This is Charlie’s big chance to be free from school, earn a few ‘quid’ and support his family with food and heat.
|8||Reading – Race route Treasury Garden:
Charlie is running for his future up Bridge and Wellington Street, past the Treasury and Fitzroy Gardens (where those bad things happen later to Nostrils with the Barlow gang). Turning north into Spring Street, Charlie is bleeding from the hands, knees and feet. Why knees and hands? Why feet? What is the weather? What is Charlie thinking?
|9||Reading – Race route Parliament House Racing up Spring Street from the Treasury Gardens, Charlie reaches Parliament house at Bourke Street and turns west down Bourke Street towards the finish line: the Orient Hotel at 200 Bourke Street.|
|10||Windsor Hotel – Prohibition:
As Charlie heads down Bourke Street, on his left is the Windsor Hotel 111 Spring St, on the Spring and Bourke Street corner, a former ‘temperance palace’ – no alcohol allowed. The ‘wowsers’ or temperance movement banned alcohol causing ‘Prohibition’. This made gangsters like Theodore Leslie Taylor very rich as the suppliers of illegal booze or ‘sly grog’. In 1922 an armed gang tied up the caretaker and blew up the safe at the Windsor. Like so many other crimes Squizzy was suspected but never charged.
|11||Princess Theatre – Entertainment and Red Light Precinct of Chinatown
As Charlie turns down Bourke Street to his right Charlie’s is Melbourne’s oldest theatre – Princess Theatre 1858 at 163 Bourke Street. The Theatre was central to the entertainment precinct around Chinatown in the1920s. This precinct was the red light district dominated by Squizzy’s gang called the ‘Bourke Street Rats’ who later went to war with the Fitzroy Push over the proceeds of their crimes. Squiz and his many girlfriends saw famous performers at the Princess with such as singer Nellie Melba and actress Nellie Stewart. Nellie Melba gets a mention in the book. Where?
|12||Bourke Street East – The Bourke Street Rats gang:
As Charlie runs west down Bourke Street he is now entering the territory of Squizzy’s gang: the Bourke Street Rats. Chinatown including Bourke, Little Bourke, Little Lon and Lonsdale Streets was the red light entertainment district where the gang practices prostitution, robbery and blackmail. Thousands of citizens come here to be entertained on Saturday night (no Netflix or video games in those days I’m afraid). In the back lanes are the sly groggers, working girls and gamblers to help the crowds enjoy themselves.
|13||Race Route – Romeo and Juliette Lanes:
200 metres down Bourke Street, Charlie is now passing Romeo and Juliette Lanes (today Crossley and Liverpool) on his right. These were a notorious centre for prostitution, crime and gang conflict.
|14||Race Route Romeo and Juliette Lanes
These back lanes also held opium dens in the early 1900s. When they closed Squizzy started a lucrative trade in cocaine or ‘Joe Blow’.
|15||Reading – Daisy Moloney
Dolly Grey in the novel was the first of Squizzy’s three ‘wives’: Dolly, Lorna Payne and Ida Pender. She lived with Squizzy in nearby Little Lon or Lonsdale Street and plied her trade in the red light district of Chinatown including Romeo and Juliet Lanes. Women like Daisy Moloney turned to street work in desperation to support large families. Author Robert Newton makes Daisy one of the most moral characters in the book. She tells Charlie to do something good. Charlie saves his money and decides to rely on his own talents. And what is that talent
|16||Running down Bourke Street Charlie reaches the Exhibition Street corner. He is now passing Fancy Hanks at 79 Bourke Street. This was the dance studio of Squizzy’s third wife – Ida Pender or Jazz Baby. Ida was a flapper’, an icon of fashion, style and ‘jazzing’ or dancing – hugely popular in the twenties. She was also a shoplifter.|
|17||Roaring 20s! The 1920s was famous for its fashion styles, jazz music, exciting new dances like the Charleston, art deco architecture and ‘speak-easys’ (illegal grog bars). People really wanted to cut loose from depression and war and have a good time. Taylor’s wife Ida (Jazz Baby) and her jazzer dance school at 79 Bourke Street symbolised them all!|
|18||Eastern Market, 111 Bourke Street.
As Charlie races down Bourke Street and crosses Russell St, he is passing the Eastern Market site at 111 Bourke Street demolished in 1960. This is where Charlie is sent by Squiz to collect from Albert Fox the greengrocer (by the way there really was a grocer called Albert Fox!). Who sends a teenager to collect protection money during a gang war while he cowers in Richmond? What is protection money anyway? Charlie is starting to realise that the money and boots and help with school and Mr Peacock was all about Squizzy – and not about Charlie. Squiz is not the missing father that Charlie imagined. The Eastern Market is also where Madam Ghurka sells her cosmetic wares to Ma and Dolly.
|19||Reading – Eastern Market, 111 Bourke St.|
|20||Bijou and Gaiety Theatres 225 Bourke Street.
In 1921 Squizzy Taylor skipped bail and went into hiding sending letters to the newspapers taunting the police. They issued a wanted notice. Even later emerged he was hiding in Bourke Street under the theatres in the busiest street in Melbourne.
|21||Bijou and Gaiety Theatres 225 Bourke Street.
In 1921 Squizzy Taylor skipped bail and went into hiding sending letters to the newspapers taunting the police. They issued a wanted notice notice. Even later emerged he was hiding in Bourke Street under the theatres in the busiest street in Melbourne.
|22||Reading Bijou and Gaiety Theatres.|
|23||180 Bourke Street – Gang war Fitzroy Push versus Richmond Push.
Opposite the Bijou and Gaiety is 180 Bourke Street, corner Russell. In 1921 Brownie Cotter from the Fitzroy Gang shot Squizzy Taylor in the leg as he entered the Racing Bar. Squizzy was taken to the Melbourne Hospital in Lonsdale Street. Amazingly the bar is still there today 90 years later! Squizzy returned later to pose for the news! He was the first celebrity gangster. The war with the Fitzroy Push happened when Squizzy and Dolly refused to share the proceeds of a jewel robbery from Kilpatrick’s Jewellers at 39 Collins Street. He entered the racing bar because he was a former jockey. Remember Dolly painting him in jockey silks? Many films have since explored the character of Squizzy including Underbelly in 2013.
|24||Squizzy Taylor Celebrity Gangster – film clip.
Squizzy Taylor committed innumerable violent crimes including murder for ten years. So how did this pint-sized ex-jockey, dominate other thugs, evade the law, terrorise citizens, yet become a celebrity in newspapers, books and films? What was his secret. Here is one explanation in Channel Nine’s Underbelly 2013.
|25||Reading – the Fitzroy Gang versus the Richmond Push|
|26||The Race Finish – Orient Hotel 200 Bourke Street.
Charlie has arrived at the finish line but is he too late? He is the second runner through the door yet wins the race. Why? Only losers gamble – Squizzy knows how to fix the odds. Charlie uses this knowledge to increase his odds in the Ballarat Mile. How?
|27||Reading – Orient Hotel 200 Bourke Street|
|28||Waratah Lane – Illegal gambling and Henry Stokes
We walk through the Chinatown Arcade (former Orient Hotel) from Bourke Street a short distance north to Waratah Lane, Chinatown to Lonsdale Street. There are myriad small lanes here ideal for hidden activities. Waratah was a notorious lane for illegal gamblers like Henry Stokes of the Runner novel.
|29||Reading Henry Stokes – Waratah Lane.
The warehouses of Waratah and other lanes in Chinatown were home to illegal gambling by gangsters such as Henry Stokes, the ‘Two-Up King’ During the Fitzroy Vendetta War, Henry Stokes shot Henry Slater six times in Lt Collins Street IN 1918. He was acquitted stating it was an accident. He was a very dangerous man.
|30||The Melbourne Hospital – Gunshot wounds and battles.
Waratah Lane takes us a short distance to the former Melbourne Hospital today the QV Centre, 210 Lonsdale Street. Squizzy came here when he was shot in Bourke Street. So did his victims. Bridget Cutmore, Snowy’s mother, also came here after being shot in 1927 during her son’s gun battle with Squizzy. This was once the first women’s hospital started by campaigners like Constance Stone and Vida Goldstein.
|31||QV Centre – Snowy Cutmore.
Snowy Cutmore, the vicious leader of the Fitzroy ‘Push’. Push means gang. He and Squizzy shot it out in 1927 at 50 Barkley Street Carlton. They both died. Rumours persisted that Snowy’s mum Bridget plugged Squizzy. Or that Brownie Cotter came back. Or that they got too big for their boots and were both executed out by the Sydney gangsters. Still an unsolved mystery today.
|32||Reading – Snowy Cutmore.|
|33||Reading – Lonsdale Street Sly grog Rat Run.
If we walk east up Lonsdale Street. We come to Corrs Lane. Melbourne’s narrowest lane is one of the rat-runs used by the Bourke Street Rats to secretly transport sly grog. If you want to make something valuable, just ban it. The ‘wowsers’ or ‘do-gooders’ or temperance movement closed alcohol sales after 6.00pm for 50 years. Also gambling. This was called Prohibition. Unfortunately it made gangsters rich.
|34||The Block Arcade – 282 Collins Street
Our final stop is a ten minute walk away at the famous and respectable Block Arcade in Collins Street. Newton’s novel ‘Runner’ ends happily with Charlie and ‘Nostrils’ Heath owning a wood yard business. In reality Charlie Feehan and Norman Heath were Squizzy apprentices who graduated to create their own 60-strong gang dealing in drugs and extortion. It was called the ‘Barco Gang’ because it operated around the Block Arcade at 282 Collins Street. They made different life choices. Like Charlie and Norman, we all make choices. How we choose to respond to the inevitable challenges in our lives can influence our future for good or bad.
In 1923 the Melbourne police went on strike over their terrible pay. On Friday thousands of thugs poured into Melbourne looting the shops, smashing and burning buildings and turning over trams. The had to call up 5000 citizen vigilantes armed with clubs above under former ANZAC general John Monash to subdue the mob. The riots indicated the potential lawlessness of the 1920s.