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The Barrow Lane Gang

The Barrow Lane Gang was first published in 1968. It is now out of print.

Story | Background | Thoughts | Editions and Availability


Joe, Sue, Tom, Jane and Ben live in Barrow Lane. One day they are looking for conkers, and a man walks past them and says "Pretty Christmas" in a very peculiar voice. As they are walking home, they see a woman crying because she has lost her budgie, and she thinks he has been stolen. As they are talking to the woman, she tells them that her budgie sometimes comes out with a funny expression - "Pretty Christmas". The children realise the man they met must have stolen the budgie and taken it to the pet shop. They look in the petshop, and he is there, so they tell the old lady and go the the police with her. With the help of the children, the old lady is able to prove that the budgie is hers, and the magistrate congratulates them. The children decide that there might be other times they can help the police, so they form the Barrow Lane Gang.

The Barrow Lane Gang helps to catch a mailbag thief and a bank robber, as well as looking after a dog while his owner is in hospital.


The Barrow Lane Gang was written especially for Jackanory, a BBC-1 televsion program in which books were read aloud to the audience by actors. It ran Mondays to Fridays, with one book being read every week. The storyteller for The Barrow Lane Gang was Rodney Bewes. As the book has consists of five self-contained stories, presumably one was read out every episode.


(This section contains "spoilers" for those who have not read the book.)

The Barrow Lane Gang is quite disappointing. None of the characters develop much individual personality, and the stories are in the conventional mould of "children foil evil doers and are congratulated by the police".

The second story, "The Hide", is very reminiscent of the opening of The Children of Primrose Lane. The Barrow Lane Gang, like the Primrose Lane children, take over an abandoned house as their own special place. Just as the house in Primrose Lane is known as "Somewhere", so that the children can refer to it without grownups realising what they are talking about, so the Barrow Lane Gang call their house "Four" - "so when we want to say we're meeting here no one else will know what we mean" (1968:27).

Editions and Availability

UK Editions

The Barrow Lane Gang was first published by BBC Publications in 1968, and illustrated with photograps.

It was reprinted in 1972.

US Editions

There does not seem to have been a US edition of The Barrow Lane Gang.

Out of Print

The Barrow Lane Gang is out of print and very rare. In February 2004, the only two second hand copies I can find listed by online booksellers cost around 5. (Source: Addall Used and Out of Print Book Search.)

Other Media

The Barrow Lane Gang stories were told by Rodney Bewes in Jackanory, a BBC-1 televison program on which actors read aloud to the viewers.


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