London’s Haunts: The Kray Twins
Recently brought back into the limelight, the Kray Twins were two of leading perpetrators of organised crime in the East End of London in the 1950s and 60s. Involved in Armed Robbery, Rackets, Assaults, Murder, and Arson, these were definitely two brothers not to be messed with. However, they have an interesting story.
They owned night clubs across London, and often mingled with the likes of Diana Dors, Frank Sinatra, and other musicians and politicians. Among those who knew them, they were feared and not a force to be reckoned with. In their early life, they were amateur boxers under the influence of their Grandfather Jimmy “Cannonball” Lee, but were forced to give it up due to their growing criminal records. From that point on, they became organised criminals full-time.
“As human beings, we have all got our failings, and one day we will all be judged. I feel sure that I won’t be lonely on my journey, wherever it may lead” – Reggie Kray
They called their gang “The Firm”, and got very involved in the gambling scene. Their clubs were fronted by celebrities and esteemed members of the community (who were paid to greet individuals as they entered), and the Kray twins had a great love for publicity – which eventually led to their downfall. In the end Ronnie Kray was classified as insane, and died from a heart attack whilst in Broadmoor Hospital. Reggie Kray, who had become a born-again Christian, was released on compassionate leave due to an inoperable bladder cancer, and died in his sleep besides his wife at the Townhouse Hotel.
Their story has entered the mainstream once again with the release of Legends, a film depicting their lives with Tom Hardy playing both brothers. The film is currently playing in most cinemas and has received great reviews. Here’s the trailer: