Freddie Foreman once took an Elephant for a ride.
Greetings Chaps & Chappettes.
I have a question for you….. Lets see if you know the answer?
What have Freddie Foreman the famous Cockney Gangster, Elephants and a Diamond Girl… Not Diamond Geezer but Diamond Girl have in common……. Don’t know then let me tell you .
During the late 1940’s a very young, keen to learn and very cocky Freddie Foreman learnt his trade with his first foray into the world of organised crime as the well like driver for notorious and scandalous Forty Elephants an all female crime syndicate who specialised in shop lifting.
The street of The Elephant & Castle were as rough and as dangerous as it was possible to get without actually declaring war…
Formed in the 1870’s The Forty Elephants got their name because they mainly lived in and around The Elephant and Castle and was a play on The Forty Thieves.
Alice Diamond was the first acknowledged “queen” of The Forty Elephant and she and her girls cause mayhem and chaos in London’s West End shop and were once quoted “as being like a plague of locus”
Scotland Yard called Alice Diamond the “most expert shoplifter in the world.” Alice Diamond’s last conviction was probably in 1929, and she died in the 1950s.
By the 1960’s The Forty Elephants was presiding over by their then “queen” Shirley Sarah Pitt who continued to maintain the lineage of The Elephant & Castle.
In all probability Freddie Foreman drove for Shirley Pitt and possibly even Alice Diamond as he was driving for The Elephants in the late 1940’s early 1950’s.
Shirley as a bright and enthusiastic 13-year-old met Alice Dimond for the first time at her home when she visited Shirley’s parents.
Shirley was instantly enraptured with Alice, her lifestyle, and the way she funded it.
The Pitt family were long-standing members of the ‘Elephant and Castle’ gangs but Alice showed young Shirley that a women didn’t have to depend on their men, but could enjoy the benefits of a life of crime.
Alice most certainly passed on her ‘wisdom’ to a future queen of the Forty Elephants, Shirley Pitt.
Shirley Pitt stole to order and many of her customers relied on her own amazing dress sence.
Often customers placed their orders by just tell Shirley their size, what shop and where to find it.
London criminals such as Albert Dimes, enforcer for gang leader William “Billy” Hill, brought suites for himself and dresses for his wife from Shirley Pitt.
Unbelievable as it may seem Actress Diana Dors was a customers of Shirley Pitt and purchased the dress that she wore to the film premiere of The Amazing Mr Blunden in 1972.