Glasgow Gangster Arthur Thompson: The Godfather

Updated on June 7, 2018

Known as The Godfather, gangster Arthur Thompson undoubtedly ruled Glasgow’s underworld for many years stretching from right back from an early age. Born in 1931 of respectable parents, young Arthur soon learned to earn respect from his peers by using his fists to get what he wanted, and by the age of 12 he had graduated to using open razors (nice child!).

During the Second World War years a teenaged Arthur was robbing stores and by the time he was 22 he already had built up quite a reputation in extortion rackets where he demanded money from businesses to prevent them getting burned out.

His first jail sentence was for 18 months, and he came out determined to carry on with his life of crime without getting caught.

Arthur Thompson The Godfather Glasgow Gangster
Arthur Thompson The Godfather Glasgow Gangster

Arthur Thompson then became involved with bank robberies, and invested his shares of the ill-gotten gains in businesses. Not content with that, he formed his own team to continue robbing banks, and after a particularly sloppy robbery in which he dropped his own house keys at the scene, he got caught and sentenced to 3 years in jail.

Jail allowed him to extend his criminal contacts and when he was released this time he moved south to London where he continued his life of crime.

This was the territory of the notorious Kray Twins, and the story goes that the Kray Twins wanted him out and put a price on his head. Instead, Thompson calmly walked into the pub they normally hung out in, the Double R club, and after demanding to see them, produced a sawn–off shotgun and threatened to blow their brains out along with the immortal words “I’m Arthur Thompson. You’ll no’ forget me.”

Throughout the 50s and 60s, Arthur Thompson continued to be a feared underworld gangster throughout Britain, but especially in Glasgow. His legitimate businesses, which included bars and clubs, continued to thrive, making him a very wealthy man, but he was ruthless. As a money lender, he frequently nailed people to the floor for non-payment, literally. He crucified them by hammering nails through their hands pinning them to doors or floors. This sent out a very strong message to others that he was not to be crossed. Debts must be repaid on time. Like all loan sharks, the repayment rates were ridiculously high and many already poor people suffered.

Then another family of criminals tried to muscle in on his territories. The Welsh family were total degenerates with no moral fibre but plenty of gumption, and Arthur Thompson and his team set about them armed with knives, hatchets and cleavers, but were beaten back with guns and ammunition.

A deep hatred grew between the two factions, and Arthur Thompson used every opportunity to exact revenge, including forcing a van being driven by a Welsh family member off the road resulting in the deaths of two young men.

The Welsh family retaliated by placing a bomb inside Arthur Thompson’s car, and when it exploded it killed his mother-in-law who was in the car with him.

Arthur Thompson Godfather
Arthur Thompson Godfather

By the late 60s, early 70s, Arthur Thompson had got himself involved in the lucrative arms trade, smuggling guns to Northern Ireland to add to the tensions there. This brought him to the attention of MI5, and in return for passing on information, Arthur Thompson was granted immunity of prosecution, leaving him virtually free to do as he liked.

supply of heroin
supply of heroin

By the early 80s he had moved into the lucrative supply of drugs trade, especially heroin.

Heroin is highly addictive and it is not difficult to get yourself a few customers simply by giving out a few free ‘samplers’. No doubt henchmen were involved in turning almost a whole generation of Glasgow youngsters into junkies, but the profits were huge and to a man like Arthur Thompson, what did he care?

His son Arthur Thompson Junior was in charge of the drugs side for his father, but he needed enforcers to ensure drugs were paid for in time. Enter centre left a young neighbour Paul Ferris who acted as enforcer for the family. It just so happened that Paul Ferris also hated the Welsh’s and so they made a good team.

Vicious knife crime

Paul Ferris has since claimed in book releases that he was bullied as a child by the Welsh family. That does not explain how he found it so easy to pull out knives and stab people who hadn’t paid a drug debt – people who were not members of the Welsh family.

After an especially horrific incident when Ferris has stabbed a car driver and his dog in front of witnesses, the Thompsons sent Ferris to the family’s remote holiday home on a Scottish island till the furore died down.

Unbeknown to Ferris, however, Arthur Thompson Senior had tipped the police of as to his hideaway location and a subsequent police raid saw him up in court for Class A drug dealing, as an amount of heroin was found on his person at the holiday flat.

While the man he attacked later dropped the charge, Ferris still found himself jailed for 18 months, not for the drugs offences, but for having a weapon on his person.

This set Paul Ferris against his former employer, and when Arthur Thompson junior was brutally shot dead outside his family home in 1991, Paul Ferris was an immediate suspect.

Arthur Thompson's plush home in Blackhill, Glasgow. two ex-council houses knocked into one, and dubbed the 'Ponderosa'
Arthur Thompson's plush home in Blackhill, Glasgow. two ex-council houses knocked into one, and dubbed the 'Ponderosa'
Arthur 'Fatboy' Thompson, brutally gunned on outside his father's home, The Ponderosa
Arthur 'Fatboy' Thompson, brutally gunned on outside his father's home, The Ponderosa

At that time, Paul Ferris had two gangster associates, Bobby Glover and Joe Hanlon.

On the morning of Arthur Thompson junior’s funeral, both men were found dead in a car in the east end of Glasgow.

Paul Ferris stood trial alone for the killing of Arthur Thompson, and Arthur Thompson senior went to court to give evidence against him. It was probably the only time in his life Arthur Thompson had testified for the prosecution, and it is generally reckoned that Paul Ferris would have been a dead man if jailed because Arthur Thompson would have paid a hitman to take him out.

The jury found him not guilty.

This crushed Arthur Thompson and in 1993, just two years after the death of his son, he died of a heart attack at his home in Glasgow’s Blackhill district.

Glasgow Gangsters part 2 - Arthur Thompson

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      7 months ago

      Lot of bollox never got called a grass when alive lol only when dead so easy to tarnish a name when dead

    • profile image


      13 months ago

      My great uncle fml

    • profile image

      Steven duckyboy 

      13 months ago

      I’ve never got it,all the betrayal and violence,lots of money but lots of jail aswell,I’d prefer peace and smiley faces but we’re all born different,i was brought up in inner city Birmingham and know the crack etc,but managed to keep myself to myself,I’v had and lost friends who were lovely kind people who in another environment would have become good happy adults,so to some degree you can be a product of your environment,

    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from UK

      Absolutely. But isn't there another saying about the sins of the fathers?

      Thanks for commenting and adding extra info for the readers, and can I just add you have an awesome website!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Arthur Thompson was a police informant for years, there are so many myths that surround this man and his fat son that most people take them as facts, the man was a bully , a grass and his son was even worst.They set up their own kinds with drugs and guns, tried having one of their most loyal soldiers killed by rogue police, luckily his pregnant partner was with him.

      A bad family that rules through fear.But their house of cars soon fell when people took a stand against their bullying intimidating ways.Once the son was gone the old man knew he would be next and his heart couldn't cope with the worry.

      Then his other son who also took liberties while his father and brother were alive was beaten half to death and is now a lone junkie spastic, living in homeless accommodation.

      You could say what goes around comes around.

    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from UK

      Thanks for commenting, EuroCafe :)

    • EuroCafeAuLait profile image

      Anastasia Kingsley 

      9 years ago from Croatia, Europe

      Very interesting. Definitely learned something. Thanks.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)