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John Bindon - Gangster Turned Actor Print E-mail

John Bindon grew up in Hugon Road and Sullivan Court and his name crops up in some of the correspondence I have received for this website. I didn't know him personally so I can only rely on your observations and his portrayal in the Media during the late 1960's and 1970s. The author Wensley Clarkson also published a very readable, highly informative if rather romanticised view of the man in 2005.*

Bindon was a gangster who made it as an actor appearing in films like The Who's Quadrophenia, Get Carter and Poor Cow and in TV dramas like Softly Softly. He inevitably played tough man roles. He had a topless model girlfriend for many years called Vicki Hodge, who was the daughter of a Baronet. He was also said to have holidayed on the island of Mustique with The Queen's late sister, Princess Margaret and her friends. Rumours of a "relationship" with the Princess were never proved although Bindon himself later revealed that he had been warned off by certain parties.

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Wensley Clarkson's biography of John Bindon (left) and Bindon photographed with Vicki Hodge. (courtesy 'Mail On Sunday')

It was for his life as a criminal that Bindon achieved the greatest notoriety. He ran protection rackets, inflicted beatings, dealt in drugs and was put on trial for the murder of John Darke at the Ranelagh Yacht Club, Putney in 1978. Bindon was subsequently acquitted (as this press cutting shows) thanks to character witnesses like the actor Bob Hoskins.

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He also once received a Royal Society Humane Award for rescuing a man from the Thames but the story goes that it was Bindon who threw the victim into the River in the first place.

John Bindon was born in 1943. He had an older brother called Michael (b.1940), who died before him and younger sister Geraldine. His anti- social behaviour started to manifest itself as early as primary school.  He attended Holy Cross and a lady correspondent who was a fellow pupil writes:

"He was a horrid little boy-a bully and a thief. His parents were really nice folk and they didn't deserve to have sons like John and Michael."

"He stole a fountain pen from me which my father bought me for doing well at School. Remember, we did not get too many gifts in those days. It was found in his pocket when the teacher made all of the class turn their pockets out. On the way home he threatened me but like all bullies he backed down when I threatened to biff him one."

Bindon had attended Borstal twice by the age of 13 and received a number of prison sentences over the years. But why he became a criminal isn't clear. "Perhaps he lacked a father's guidance", suggests author Clarkson.  Denis Bindon was a Merchant Seaman for many years. Or maybe he was adversely affected by the austerity of his post-war childhood. Bindon is said to have adored his mother Cissie though. He was extremely loyal to his friends who he supported in times of need.

We read that the family first moved to Hugon Road during the the 1930s. Bindon's grandparents Ned and Mary Monaghan were Irish immigrants and although Ned had a modest job at Battersea Power Station he somehow managed to acquire some "derelict" properties in Hugon Road for his 11 children and their families. The Bindons lived at number 25 in what locals re-named "Monaghan Terrace."  But when Ned died the family were obliged to sell the terraced houses he owned.

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25 Hugon Road

 

Jane Crouch nee Mansell moved to Hugon Road from Ismalia Road. She writes; "Marstons the builders in Stephendale Road (Wandsworth Bridge Road end) bought the houses on the understanding that the Council rehoused the Bindons. Two flats were modernised at a time. When we were moved out of Ismalia Road the Council gave my parents the bottom flat at number 15 Hugon Road and my husband Dennis and I had the top flat."

 

Denis Bindon, Cissie and their children moved into a flat in a much sought after new Council block called Sulivan Court But John soon had "one of his first straighteners."

Bob Fifield, who was also one of the first to move into Sulivan Court. is quoted in Clarkson's book.

"John beat this coalman up quite badly after he had a row with him about delivering some bags of coal, which he did for a few Bob. When word of Bindon's victory spread around Sulivan Court, his friends gave him the nickname of Biffo The Bear, after the popular Beano character because he was round and cuddly looking, but obviously had a hell of a punch."

Terry Burrows, who also lived in Sulivan Court writes on this Website;

"The now infamous John Bindon lived in the block at right angles to ours and ran a gang at that time. Most of us kids wanted to join. It was good for our street Cred."

Another former Sulivan resident and correspondent Mary Allen, also remembers the Bindon family.

"John's brother Michael lived in the block opposite us and actually occupied the flat next door to my friend for a time. I believe he died before John did. Michael's wife came to work at Draytons but did not stay there long, only a couple of weeks."

"John's father Dennis Bindon was a member of the British Legion in New Kings Road where my husband was the Club Secretary. He was a very nice quiet man who kept himself to himself. I dont know if he has died as he no longer goes to the Legion."

John Bindon was also regarded as a bit of a lady's man and another former Sands End resident, who shall remain nameless , writes:

"In Rosebury Road lived the notorious Sheila who moved to the area in the early 60's from the Elephant and Castle as her husband was a Fulham man but who was in prison for armed robbery. Sheila was having a long standing relationship with Fulham's local gangster turned actor Johnny Bindon from Hugon Road and later Sulivan Court. I remember that there was a stabbing in her house and there was a trickle of blood leading from the house into Hazlebury and up to the Wandsworth Bridge Road"

Now I am not sure if the last sentence is a bit of poetic licence or if our man was even connected with this alleged incident but in his biography Wensley Clarkson writes about how the teenage Bindon got together with an attractive married mother called Sheila W and later set her up in a flat above The Britannia Public House in Fulham Road. The author also describes Sheila as the "love of Bindon's life."

It turned out to be a short life however. He became a virtual recluse during the 1980s. Some say he became a heroine addict, others that he contracted Aids, although he is thought to have died from Cancer in 1993. Whatever happened and whatever people thought of him, John Bindon was certainly a larger than life character

By Francis Czucha

 

 

 
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