Auld Brig, Ellon. Johnny Ramensky 1934

Auld Brig, Ellon. Johnny Ramensky 1934

My pal Jimmy took his wife and sons to tour the museum in Peterhead’s former prison building. Built in 1888 it is Scotland’s most northerly jail, 32 miles up from Aberdeen on the harsh North Sea coast.
“It’s changed little since I was last here,” Jimmy remarked, in the former cell and punishment block.
“Ha, ha,” said the tour guide. “I’ve heard that one a few times.”
“He’s nae joking;” cried Jimmy’s eldest. “Dad wis banged up in here on remand five years ago.”
One thing that many folk would readily associate with the old Peterhead Prison is the escapes and exploits of 'Gentle' Johnny Ramensky.

Born Yonas Ramanauckas on April 4th, 1906, in Glenboig, Lanarkshire, to a poor immigrant mining couple from Lithuania, Johnny got a job in the mines after quitting school at 14.There he acquired a knowledge of dynamite and other explosives: it was to hold him in good stead for the new 'career' that beckoned. The family moved to the Gorbals, Glasgow, during the Depression. Petty juvenile crime led to Johnny becoming the foremost safe-blower of his era. Audacious escapes from high-security prisons made him a household name; the staff at Peterhead prison never knew whether he was out or in, it was said. Five times he escaped the grim fortress.

The first escape from Peterhead Prison in the winter of 1934 was a classic. His head for heights, strength and ability to scale walls were put to good use. The alarms rang to spark massive police activity. Johnny managed to reach Ellon, halfway to Aberdeen.
River Ythan, Ellon. Winter of 2011
The road over the river Ythan was blocked, so he crossed over by swinging from girders and projecting stonework beneath the bridge. He swam away from Ellon, but was hunted down, returned to Peterhead and shackled.

A verse in Norman Buchan’s ‘The Ballad of Johnny Ramensky’ goes as follows:-
‘He’s been in prison for maist of his days
And ‘I must hae freedom’ is a’ that he says
There are nae horizons in a twenty-foot cell
And bitter the music o’ a harsh prison bell.'

When the Second World War broke out, Johnny joined the Commandos, where a fresh outlet for his expertise with explosives awaited, blowing safes after parachuting behind enemy lines, stealing the secrets of Hitler’s Nazis and Mussolini’s fascists. After the war his love of betting with big stakes doomed him to return to his old ways. In November 1972 he died of a brain haemorrhage in Perth Royal Infirmary after taking ill in the town's jail.
Ref:
Date:
2017-03-07 00:00:00.0
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Auld Brig, Ellon. Johnny Ramensky 1934

Auld Brig, Ellon. Johnny Ramensky 1934

My pal Jimmy took his wife and sons to tour the museum in Peterhead’s former prison building. Built in 1888 it is Scotland’s most northerly jail, 32 miles up from Aberdeen on the harsh North Sea coast.
“It’s changed little since I was last here,” Jimmy remarked, in the former cell and punishment block.
“Ha, ha,” said the tour guide. “I’ve heard that one a few times.”
“He’s nae joking;” cried Jimmy’s eldest. “Dad wis banged up in here on remand five years ago.”
One thing that many folk would readily associate with the old Peterhead Prison is the escapes and exploits of 'Gentle' Johnny Ramensky.

Born Yonas Ramanauckas on April 4th, 1906, in Glenboig, Lanarkshire, to a poor immigrant mining couple from Lithuania, Johnny got a job in the mines after quitting school at 14.There he acquired a knowledge of dynamite and other explosives: it was to hold him in good stead for the new 'career' that beckoned. The family moved to the Gorbals, Glasgow, during the Depression. Petty juvenile crime led to Johnny becoming the foremost safe-blower of his era. Audacious escapes from high-security prisons made him a household name; the staff at Peterhead prison never knew whether he was out or in, it was said. Five times he escaped the grim fortress.

The first escape from Peterhead Prison in the winter of 1934 was a classic. His head for heights, strength and ability to scale walls were put to good use. The alarms rang to spark massive police activity. Johnny managed to reach Ellon, halfway to Aberdeen.
River Ythan, Ellon. Winter of 2011
The road over the river Ythan was blocked, so he crossed over by swinging from girders and projecting stonework beneath the bridge. He swam away from Ellon, but was hunted down, returned to Peterhead and shackled.

A verse in Norman Buchan’s ‘The Ballad of Johnny Ramensky’ goes as follows:-
‘He’s been in prison for maist of his days
And ‘I must hae freedom’ is a’ that he says
There are nae horizons in a twenty-foot cell
And bitter the music o’ a harsh prison bell.'

When the Second World War broke out, Johnny joined the Commandos, where a fresh outlet for his expertise with explosives awaited, blowing safes after parachuting behind enemy lines, stealing the secrets of Hitler’s Nazis and Mussolini’s fascists. After the war his love of betting with big stakes doomed him to return to his old ways. In November 1972 he died of a brain haemorrhage in Perth Royal Infirmary after taking ill in the town's jail.
Ref:
Date:
2017-03-07 00:00:00.0
Location:
Photographer: