A fond farewell to ‘Prince of Darkness’

James Nicholson

James Nicholson

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Tributes have been paid to one of the country’s best crime writers, who started out his journalistic career at the Gazette and Lytham St Annes Express.

James Nicholson became a Fleet Street legend, breaking some of the biggest stories of his day, working for national newspapers and as a freelance, trusted by police and criminals alike. Affectionately known as the ‘Prince of Darkness’ after he took to wearing a short cape in the 1970s, he covered stories including the Great Train Robbery, the IRA’s bombing campaign, the Krays’ reign in London, the Moors Murders and the Brink’s Mat bullion raid.

Barry Band, a contributor to the Gazette’s Memory Lane pages, remembers Jim vividly.

He said: “I was a young reporter on the Lancashire Evening Post in the late ’50s and often found myself next to Jim on the Press bench at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court.

“I was in awe of him. He knew everybody, including the top cops, from whom he got tip-offs on breaking stories.

“ In 1959 I travelled with Jim on the Blackpool Borough Rugby Club team coach to away games and he could talk entertainingly about anything.

“When the team coach dropped us off in Talbot Square, usually about 10.30pm, he would lead the way to Jack Pye’s Embassy Club in Dickson Road. After about half an hour he’d pat me on the shoulder and say something like: ‘Three drinks and you’d better be off home, young Band’.”

Barry added: “He was an unforgettable character. “

He leaves a widow, daughter and two sons.