On this day: The Siege of Sidney Street in 1911

Soldiers from the Scots Guards open fire at the terraced house on Sidney Street London 3rd January 1911

Soldiers from the Scots Guards open fire at the terraced house on Sidney Street

Also known as the “Battle of Stepney”, the Siege of Sidney Street took place in London’s East End on the 3rd of January, 1911.

Prompted by the Houndsditch murders, when a few weeks before a gang tried to break into a jewellery shop, the siege ended with the deaths of two gang members, three police officers and a fireman who was killed by falling debris from the burning building.

The politically-motivated gang, allegedly including notorious Latvian anarchist Peter the Painter, was hiding on 100 Sidney Street, Stepney. Worried they were about to escape, some two-hundred police surrounded the area. The battle began at dawn.

Though heavily outnumbered, the gang had superior weaponry and a great deal of ammunition.

Winston Churchill (highlighted) at Sidney Street, 3 January 1911.

Winston Churchill (highlighted) at Sidney Street, 3rd January 1911.

Peter the Painter was never found. Then-Home Secretary Winston Churchill refused to let police enter the building until the shooting stopped.

Detectives from Scotland Yard inspect the burning house at the centre of the Siege of Sidney Street, 3 January 1911. Note the debris on the street from the earlier gun battle.

Detectives from Scotland Yard inspect the burning house at the centre of the siege.

When authorities finally made it inside some six hours later they found the bodies of two men.

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