The Barrow Lane Gang was first published in 1968. It is
now out of print.
Story | Background
| Thoughts | Editions
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
The Barrow Lane Gang was first published by BBC Publications
in 1968, and illustrated with photograps.
It was reprinted in 1972.
There does not seem to have been a US edition of The Barrow
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.)
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.