3 Jan: The Siege of Sidney Street

A dramatic standoff between Metropolitan Police and Latvian anarchists unfolded in the East End of London on 3rd January, 1911 – when two men suspected of murdering policemen in a jewellery heist were surrounded by armed authorities.

As tensions escalated, Winston Churchill, then the Home Secretary, mobilised a significant military force to Sidney Street, where the anarchists, armed with powerful weapons, responded with fierce gunfight. The spectacle attracted onlookers, reporters, news cameras, and even Churchill himself.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly look back at this flashpoint for anti-immigrant sentiment in Britain; explain how the confrontation became a lightning rod for the debate around traditional policing methods; and reveal why, if you wanted a drink that morning, you needed to get your round in early…

Further Reading:

‘The Siege of Sidney Street Gunfight’ (British Pathé, 1911):