Arthur Thompson

1931 - 1993

The Glasgow Godfather. Born in Springburn, the son of a steel-worker, Thompson began as a bouncer and gangland enforcer, but was soon involved in armed robbery, with the likes of Paddy Meehan (1927-94), money-lending and protection rackets, taking money from numerous bars and other businesses to ensure their security. By the 1980s, the family were involved in pedalling heroin. Anyone who didn't repay money Thompson has loaned them risked his signature punishment - being crucified by being nailed to a door.

Thompson took on the Kray twins in London, remarkably walking into their Double R Club and threatening them with a shotgun. Such brazen actions ensured he rose to the top rank of British criminals. Despite describing himself as 'unemployed' or a 'retired businessman', he was earning millions which he and his family invested in legitimate businesses. Thompson lived with his family in a row of lavishly-converted former council houses in Provanmill, known as the Ponderosa.

He was known as an extraordinarily vicious, ruthless but calculating criminal, who survived several attempts on his life by rivals. His elder son, Arthur Junior, was neither as intelligent nor as lucky - he was shot dead outside the family home. Two of those thought to have been responsible were executed by gunshots in the back of the head by unknown assailants and their bodies placed in a car on the route of Arthur Junior's funeral procession, such that the hearse had to pass the bodies. Although never proven, it seems likely that Thompson was behind the 'hit'. However, his influence was in decline and two years later, he died of heart failure in the Glasgow Royal Infirmary. His biography The Last Godfather: The Life and Crimes of Arthur Thompson was written by Reg McKay (1952 - 2009) and published in 2004. His daughter Margaret died of a drug overdose in 1989, while his younger son Billy was disfigured in a knife attack in 2000 and died of drugs-related complications in 2017.

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