Ronnie and Reggie Kray were born in 1933 in the East End. Having a close relationship with their mother, Violet, they were vicious street fighters by the time they moved to Bethnal Green. At 17 they were boxers, and National Service was spent mainly in the Glasshouse. By 21 their natural violence had led them to the protection racket, street cred rocketing when Ronnie attacked a Maltese gang with a cutlass.
Building their gang up to as high as 150 members - they called it The Firm - Ronnie was the muscle and Reggie the business brain. Going on to open their own clubs, they were working class heroes, charming to many, and loved to be photographed with the stars.
Ronnie, a homosexual, got 3 years in 1956, ending up in a mental hospital. Reggie was more sane, but drove his wife to commit suicide in 1967. However, watched for years by the police, headed by Leonard ‘Nipper’ Read, the Krays were finally arrested at their mother's flat in May 1968 for two murders.
At one stage gang warfare broke out with the Richardson Gang from South London. One of them - George Cornell - had insulted Ronnie. When he went for a drink in the Blind Beggar in Whitechapel, Ronnie walked in and shot him dead.
Small time crook, Jack the Hat Mcvitie, was victim number two. Annoying the twins, he was lured to a party where Ronnie went to shoot him. The gun jammed so he held him down while Reggie stabbed him in the face.
The body was never found. At the Old Bailey both got life, Ronnie dying in 1995, Reggie following in 2000.
(c) Anthony North, Feb 2007