Born in the poverty-stricken East End of London in 1933, twins Reggie & Ronnie, were to rise to become London's most feared and notorious gangsters. This walk will guide you around the back streets of Bethnal Green and Whitechapel, to places actually frequented by The Kray Twins and forever associated with their crimes.
There is a book 'The Kray Twins walk' by Louis London walks available on Amazon.
Romani Gypsy heritage.
Dan and I set off for Bethnal Green ,while during the week this walk is best done by tube,today is Sunday and we can park for free in surrounding Streets which meant we can drive to the graves in Chingford afterwards.
We arrive and find a parking spot outside Bethnal Green Police Station, we walk to the start at the tube station.
Then turn left into Tapp Street and walk under the railway arch. As we approached a pair of suspicious looking males were fiddling with a hire bike and rode off as we reached them with a sheepish 'alright ?'
On the right is No 8 Tapp Street, which was the Lion Public House.
The Lion is significant for another reason as well, in that on the 8th of March 1968, the gang were having a drink in there before heading to the Astor Club in the West End. At 6am they were all arrested meaning they had been in The Lion on their last night of freedom.
Ronnie was the first of the brothers to die (in 1995) and was the largest funeral of the three costing £10,000. The funeral cortege left the Chapel of rest here. Flowers and people lined the streets in the area. Hundreds of wreaths were sent including those from Barbara Windsor and Roger Daltrey.
Following the Glass sided carriage pulled by horse was a car carrying Reggie who was still serving a life sentence for murder. He was last allowed out of prison for his mothers Violet funeral in 1983. He was again allowed to leave in April 2000 to attend his brothers Charlie funeral.
In October 2000 Reggie the last twin died.
We retrace our steps cross over Wilmott Street again as we walk down Bethnal Green Road.
At No 332 Bethnal Green Road is Pellicci Cafe.
Pelliccís has been in the same family since it was built in 1900.
This was a regular hangout for the Twins. One Saturday afternoon in 1950 the Twins were standing outside the cafe with friends. A young policeman PC Baynton decided the boys were obstructing the pavement and shoved Ronnie in the back to move him on. Ronnie retaliated and punched the PC in the mouth. The other boys ran off but 2 other policemen arrived and caught Ronnie. Ronnie claimed he was beaten up in the cells by police officers and arrived home badly bruised. He said" The bastards could only do me in numbers... there were about six of them hitting me, but I got a few punches in myself".
Reggie not being there to help, walked back down Bethnal Green Road looking for PC Baynton. On finding him he also punched him in the mouth.
The twins were charged for assault, Ronnie pleaded provocation and Reggie said he acted in Ronnie's defence. Father Hetherington spoke for the boys in court and they got probation.
Across the road that was St James The Great church that is now exclusive flats.
Frances who was 21 was dressed in white and Ronnie was Best Man and 200 guests were in attendance. Famous boxers such as Terry Allen, Terry Spinks and Ted 'Kid' Lewis attended as well as many celebrities. Telegrams were received from Judy Garland, Barbara Windsor, Lord Boothby and others. David Bailey was the photographer. They were driven to the wedding reception at Finsbury Park Hotel in a maroon Rolls Royce.
The marriage lasted eight weeks after running into problems. Frances suffered from depression and said before the marriage she didn't think she'd live long after her 21st birthday. Sadly this premonition came true after two suicide attempts she was found dead on the 7th June 1967 of a overdose of barbiturates.
Tragically two years after the wedding the church was to be used for her funeral.
An association between Conservative peer Robert Boothby and London gangster Ronnie Kray was the subject of an MI5 investigation, documents have revealed.The men went to "homosexual parties" together and were "hunters" of young men, declassified MI5 files claim.
Allegations in 1964 about the pair's relationship caused such concern within Downing Street that the then head of MI5 was summoned to the Home Office.
The government feared a scandal greater than the so-called Profumo Affair.
Rumours that notorious gangster Kray and Lord Boothby - a popular TV presenter and former MP for East Aberdeenshire - were having an affair were published in 1964.
One night their father came home drunk and impaled his foot on the meat hook to everyone's amusement. They used this as a gym until Violet let her son Charlie and his new wife move into the room.
The twins were happy at school and were encouraged to box and play football. It was here that the twins often tricked the teachers pretending to be one another and they used this later in life to escape trouble with the army and the law.
We walk back up Turin Street and cross Bethnal Green Road and into St Matthews Row Opposite.
Ronnie's funeral service ended with 'I Will Always Love You' by Whitney Houston.
Charlies funeral in April 2000 was much more low key than Ronnie's despite the church being packed to the rafters with hundreds more outside.
When Reggie died the last Kray brother in a hotel near Norwich on 1st October 2000, some old friends were at his bedside. They said that Reggie had asked them to be his pallbearers. But Reggie's second wife Roberta (whom he married in 1997 whilst in prison) said that Reggie didn't want any gangster friends as pallbearers. Roberta upset so many old friends of Reggie that many didn't go to the church and as such many seats remained empty.
Reggie's solicitor gave an address saying ' Reg was an icon of the 2th century'. The coffin left the church to 'My Way' by Frank Sinata.
Parties were held here for the firm, a party on the 28th October 1967 where Violet their mother was present was held here. Ronnie was in a strange mood and people avoided him.
The reason for the twin behaviour was that they decided that Jack 'The Hat' (named because he always wore a hat to cover up his bald patch) had to be taught a lesson. McVitie cheated the twins over some business and he ignored warnings. He took money from them to carry out a murder but didn't do the job! He refused to repay the twins and the night before he staggered into the Regency Club drunk waving a sawn off shotgun threatening to kill the Krays.
At closing time, Reggie was drunk and aggressive and hurried off. Reggie left The Carpenters Arms to go to the Regency (where he thought McVitie was) intending to shoot him in the head, just as Ronnie had shot Cornell. McVitie wasn't there, but Reggie didn't give up and McVitie was found and invited by the Lambrianou brothers (who needed to prove loyalty to the firm to join) to a party in a basement flat in Stoke Newington. He was bought to the flat drunk and high on drugs just after midnight.
The twins and some of the firm were waiting. According to accounts given to the police, Reggie tried to shoot McVitie in the head but his gun jammed. McVitie almost escaped out of the window, but only succeeded in losing his hat. McVitie begged for mercy but Reggie egged on by Ronnie "Kill him Reg. Do him" who was holding back McVities arms stabbed McVitie in the face with a carving knife. Then stabbed his body and chest and finally impaled him to the floor by stabbing him through his throat. The twins left the flat, while firm members cleaned up and got rid of the body. McVities body was never found.
We turn left onto Cheshire Street .
On Sundays there is a bric a brac market, more like an impronto boot sale.
|The locals must all be crossing their legs!|
Across the road is a second hand work clothing shop.
We cross Hereford Street and on our left is Repton Amateur Boxing Club.
Ronnie aged 15 was in the club one night when a film director was looking for extras for as film called 'The Magic Box' being made at Ealing studios. Ronnie was thrilled to take part.
Through their boxing connections and later through the American Mafia , the Krays met many world champion boxers including Rocky Graziano, Joe Louis, Sonny Liston and Freedie Mills.
After the twins arrest in 1968 the police questioned one of the attendants about the firm. They were particularly interested in the furnace used to heat the water.They thought that some of the bodies connected to the Kray case may have been disposed of in this way. No evidence was found.
Today the baths are private property, probably flats.
We continue to the end of the street and reach the junction with Vallance Road.
When the war started this area was constantly bombed, as the German bombers aimed for the railway lines. At this time this part of Vallance Road became known as 'Deserters Corner' because so many living in this area ignored their call up papers (including Charlie Snr).
Later when the twins became more notorious the family home became the HQ of the Kray empire. Ronnie 'The Colonel' was obsessed with firearms (He got his first gun at 16) his collection included revolvers,sawn off shotguns, most hidden under the floorboards. Ronnie had other weapons too including cavalry sabres,knives and bayonets. The house became known as 'Fort Vallance'.
The twins continued to use the house well into adult life for operations and a place of sanctuary even when they had moved out. Violet Kray left 178 Vallance Road in 1967 when she moved to a new council flat in Braithwaite House in Shoreditch.
We turn right and under the railway bridge and along Vallance Road.
Person Female Born 29/2/1860 Died 2/4/1941
Social worker. Born 80 Park Street, Mayfair, daughter to the Christian socialist Thomas Hughes who was author of "Tom Brown's Schooldays". Moved to join her sister who was married to the Reverend Henry Carter in Whitechapel. There she worked with the poor and the sick. Her sister and brother-in-law went down on the Titanic but Mary moved into the community settlement, Kingsley Hall, in Bow and carried on her work living in amongst the poor, in similar conditions. Joined the Quakers in 1918. Moved back to Whitechapel and then in 1928 into an ex-pub at 71 Vallance Road. She renamed this the 'Dew Drop Inn' and provided there a community centre for the homeless. She called herself a Communist and met Gandhi in 1931 when he visited Kingsley Hall. Died St Peter's Hospital, Whitechapel.
At the end of the road we turn left onto Whitechapel Road.
We pass The Royal London Hospital.
He also founded the Salvation Army on Whitechapel Road.
Booth was born in Nottingham in 1829. He had a relatively easy start to life, as his father was wealthy, however the family lost their money during his childhood and he had to stop his schooling at the age of 13 to become an apprentice pawnbroker.
During his apprenticeship, Booth became a Methodist, and, over time, a self-taught lay preacher. By the 1840s, he began preaching to the poor in the local area. Booth wasn’t kept on by his master pawnbroker when his apprenticeship ended and he was forced to move to London to look for work.
By 1865, Booth was back in the East End where he was noticed preaching outside the Blind Beggar pub in Whitechapel. He was asked to lead preaching meetings in the area on land known as Mile End Waste.
Later that year, he and his wife started The Christian Revival Society, which later became The Christian Mission and, ultimately, The Salvation Army. His aim was to preach that salvation was available to all people, including those living in abject poverty and need, as long as they accepted Jesus Christ.
In 1735, Trinity Green had 28 people, at a cost of 12 shillings per resident per month. In 1895–96, Trinity Green was threatened with closure, after Sir Frederic Leighton proposed that the almshouses be destroyed. The closure was prevented due to a public campaign led by Charles Robert Ashbee, who set up a Committee for the Survey of the Memorials of Greater London. The almshouses were the first buildings to be put on his preservation register, which eventually became the listed building system.
In 1927, a bronze bust memorial for William Booth was installed at Trinity Green; in the 19th century, Booth had preached in the Vine Tavern in front of the almshouses, which had led to the founding of The Salvation Army. In the Second World War, the Trinity Green almshouses were damaged, with those almshouses north of the chapel being destroyed. In 1950, Trinity Green became a Grade I listed building; the listing included the almshouses, chapel, gates, railings and walls. In 1954, London County Council bought and restored the non-destroyed houses, including the restoration of the chapel with 18th-century panelling from Bradmore House in Hammersmith.[1When Mile End Road was built, Trinity Green's location was altered from rural peace and quiet into traffic.
Trinity Green was included on a Mile End mural created in 2011. In 2016, local residents complained at proposals for Sainsbury's to build a 28-storey tower block less than 80 yards (73 m) from the Trinity Green almshouses; they argued that the tower block would cast a shadow over the almshouses.
Manns Albion brewery, where the first modern Brown Ale was brewed. The pub was built in 1894 on the site of an inn which had been established before 1654, and takes its name from the legend of Henry de Montfort.
Harry Redknapp and was owned by Bobby Moore at one stage.
Moore’s interest in pubs extended to owning a few, including the legendary Blind Beggar, where the Krays committed one of their most notorious killings, and where Harry Redknapp recalls being told by a gangster that, “You can tell your mate Bobby Moore that I’ll cut him from ear to ear.”
|Air Ambulance taking off from The Royal London Hospital|
Ronnie and Barrie walked up to Cornell, who was in the saloon bar sitting on a stool at the end of the bar with a couple of friends. When he saw Ronnie he said "Well, look who's here". Ronnie said nothing, but took out his 9mm Mauser automatic pistol, which he carried into the pub in his shoulder holster, and shot Cornell in the head. Cornell fell of his stool, there was blood everywhere. Barrie also armed fired two shots into the ceiling. Everyone ran for cover, except an old man who remained sitting at a table in a state of shock. Ronnie and Barrie calmly walked out of the pub and got into as car waiting for them.
Inside the pub the song the barmaid put on played repeatedly as the needle had stuck on the record. The barmaid and landlord tried to help Cornell but he died on way to hospital.
Everyone in the pub was visited by the twins representatives before police interviews took place. No-one could help the Police. Ronnie was put into an ID parade, but wasn't picked out. Everyone knew he committed the murder but had no proof.
|Dan on the spot where Cornell was shot.|
If you visit here, I'll make it easy for you. Dan and I walked about everywhere looking for the graves. Dan found them.
From The church on the road take the path opposite on top of the hill \and walk down to the end to find the graves.
About a 4 mile walk if you don't include wandering about waiting for the pub to open.
Now watch the film 'The Krays'