Kray twins

Ronald "Ronnie" Kray (24 October 1933 – 17 March 1995) and Reginald "Reggie" Kray (24 October 1933 – 1 October 2000), twin brothers, were English criminals, the foremost perpetrators of organised crime in the East End of London during the 1950s and 1960s. With their gang, known as "The Firm", the Krays were involved in murder, armed robbery, arson, protection rackets and assaults.

As West End nightclub owners, the Krays mixed with politicians and prominent entertainers such as Diana Dors, Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland. In the 1960s, they became celebrities, being photographed by David Bailey and interviewed on television.

The Krays were arrested on 8 May 1968 and convicted in 1969, as a result of the efforts of detectives led by Detective Superintendent Leonard "Nipper" Read. Each was sentenced to life imprisonment. Ronnie remained in Broadmoor Hospital until his death on 17 March 1995 from a heart attack; Reggie was released from prison on compassionate grounds in August 2000, eight and a half weeks before his death from bladder cancer.

Ronald and Reginald Kray
Reginald (left) and Ronald Kray [photograph by David Bailey]
Born24 October 1933
Hoxton, London, England
17 March 1995 (aged 61) Wexham park Hospital, Slough, England
1 October 2000 (aged 66)
Norwich, Norfolk, England
Frances Shea
(m. 1965; died 1967)

Roberta Jones (m. 1997)
Elaine Mildener
(m. 1985; div. 1989)
Kate Howard
(m. 1989; div. 1994)

Early life

Ronald "Ronnie" and Reginald "Reg" Kray were born on 24 October 1933 in Hoxton, East London, to Charles David Kray (10 March 1907 – 8 March 1983), a wardrobe dealer,[4] and Violet Annie Lee (5 August 1909 – 4 August 1982).[5] The brothers were twins, with Reggie born ten minutes before Ronnie.[6] Their parents already had a six-year-old son, Charles James (9 July 1927 – 4 April 2000).[6] A sister, Violet (born 1929), died in infancy.[6] When the twins were three years old, they contracted diphtheria.

The twins first attended Wood Close School in Brick Lane, and then Daniel Street School.[7] In 1938, the Kray family moved from Stean Street in Hoxton to 178 Vallance Road in Bethnal Green.

The influence of their maternal grandfather, Jimmy "Cannonball" Lee,[8] caused the brothers to take up amateur boxing, then a popular pastime for working class boys in the East End. Sibling rivalry spurred them on, and both achieved some success. They are said to have never lost a match before turning professional at age 19.

National service

The Kray twins were notorious for their gang and its violence, and narrowly avoided being sent to prison many times. Young men were conscripted for national service at this time, and the twins were called up to serve with the Royal Fusiliers in 1952. They reported, but attempted to leave after only a few minutes. The corporal in charge tried to stop them, but Ronnie punched him on the chin, leaving him seriously injured; the Krays walked back to the East End. They were arrested the next morning and were turned over to the army.[9]

While absent without leave, they assaulted a police constable who tried to arrest them. They were among the last prisoners held at the Tower of London before being transferred to Shepton Mallet military prison in Somerset for a month to await court-martial. They were convicted and sent to the Buffs' Home Counties Brigade Depot jail in Canterbury, Kent.

Their behaviour in prison was so bad that they both received dishonourable discharges from the army. They tried to dominate the exercise area outside their one-man cells during their few weeks in prison, when their conviction was certain. They threw tantrums, emptied their latrine bucket over a sergeant, dumped a dixie (a large food and liquid container)[10] full of hot tea on another guard, handcuffed a guard to their prison bars with a pair of stolen cuffs and set their bedding on fire.[11]

They were moved to a communal cell where they assaulted their guard with a china vase and escaped. They were quickly recaptured and awaited transfer to civilian authority for crimes committed while at large; they spent their last night in Canterbury drinking cider, eating crisps and smoking cigarillos courtesy of the young national servicemen acting as their guards.

Criminal careers

Nightclub owners

Their criminal records and dishonourable discharges ended their boxing careers, and the brothers turned to crime full-time. They bought a run-down snooker club in Mile End where they started several protection rackets. By the end of the 1950s, the Krays were working for Jay Murray from Liverpool and were involved in hijacking, armed robbery and arson, through which they acquired other clubs and properties. In 1960, Ronnie Kray was imprisoned for 18 months for running a protection racket and related threats. While Ronnie was in prison, Peter Rachman, head of a landlord operation, gave Reggie a nightclub called Esmeralda's Barn on the Knightsbridge end of Wilton Place next to a bistro called Joan's Kitchen. The location is where the Berkeley Hotel now stands.[12]

This increased the Krays' influence in the West End by making them celebrities as well as criminals. The Kray twins adopted a norm according to which anyone who failed to show due respect would be severely punished.[13] They were assisted by a banker named Alan Cooper who wanted protection against the Krays' rivals, the Richardsons, based in South London.[14]

Celebrity status

In the 1960s, the Kray brothers were widely seen as prosperous and charming celebrity nightclub owners and were part of the Swinging London scene. A large part of their fame was due to their non-criminal activities as popular figures on the celebrity circuit, being photographed by David Bailey on more than one occasion and socialising with lords, MPs, socialites and show business characters, including actors George Raft, Judy Garland, Diana Dors and Barbara Windsor.

They were the best years of our lives. They called them the swinging sixties. The Beatles and the Rolling Stones were rulers of pop music, Carnaby Street ruled the fashion world... and me and my brother ruled London. We were fucking untouchable...

– Ronnie Kray, in his autobiography My Story[15]

Lord Boothby and Tom Driberg

The Krays also came to public attention in July 1964 when an exposé in the tabloid newspaper Sunday Mirror insinuated that Ronnie had conceived a sexual relationship with Robert, Lord Boothby, a Conservative politician,[16] at a time when men having sex was still a criminal offence in the U.K. Although no names were printed in the piece, the twins threatened the journalists involved, and Boothby threatened to sue the newspaper with the help of Labour Party leader Harold Wilson's solicitor Arnold Goodman (Wilson wanted to protect the reputation of Labour MP Tom Driberg, a relatively open gay man known to associate with both Boothby and Ronnie Kray, just weeks ahead of a pending General Election which Labour was hoping to win). In the face of this, the newspaper backed down, sacking its editor, printing an apology and paying Boothby £40,000 in an out-of-court settlement.[17] Because of this, other newspapers were unwilling to expose the Krays' connections and criminal activities. Much later, Channel 4 established the truth of the allegations and released a documentary on the subject called The Gangster and the Pervert Peer (2009).[18]

The police investigated the Krays on several occasions, but the brothers' reputation for violence made witnesses afraid to testify. There was also a problem for both main political parties. The Conservative Party was unwilling to press the police to end the Krays' power for fear that the Boothby connection would again be publicised, and the Labour Party, in power from October 1964, but with a wafer-thin majority in the House of Commons and the prospect of another General Election needing to be called in the very near future, did not want Driberg's connections to Ronnie Kray (and his sexual predilections) to get into the public realm.[19][20]

George Cornell

The blind beggar 1
Blind Beggar pub in 2005

Ronnie Kray shot and killed George Cornell, a member of the Richardson Gang (a rival South London gang), at the Blind Beggar pub in Whitechapel on 9 March 1966. The day before, there had been a shoot-out at Mr. Smith's, a nightclub in Catford, involving the Richardson gang and Richard Hart, an associate of the Krays, who was shot dead. This public shoot-out led to the arrest of nearly all the Richardson gang. Cornell, by chance, was not present at the club during the shoot-out and was not arrested. Whilst visiting the hospital to check up on his friends, he randomly chose to visit the Blind Beggar pub, only a mile away from where the Krays lived.

Ronnie was drinking in another pub when he learned of Cornell's whereabouts. He went there with his driver "Scotch Jack" John Dickson and his assistant Ian Barrie. Ronnie went into the pub with Barrie, walked straight to Cornell and shot him in the head in public view. Barrie, confused by what happened, fired five shots in the air warning the public not to report what had happened to the police. Just before he was shot, Cornell remarked, "Well, look who's here." He died at 3:00am in hospital.

Ronnie Kray was already suffering from paranoid schizophrenia at the time of the killing.[21]

According to some sources, Ronnie killed Cornell because Cornell referred to him as a "fat poof" (a derogatory term for gay men) during a confrontation between the Krays and the Richardson gang at the Astor Club on Christmas Day 1965.

Richardson gang member "Mad" Frankie Fraser was tried for the murder of Richard Hart at Mr. Smith's, but was found not guilty. Richardson gang member Ray "the Belgian" Cullinane testified that he saw Cornell kicking Hart. Witnesses would not co-operate with the police in the murder case due to intimidation, and the trial ended inconclusively without pointing to any suspect in particular.[14]

Frank Mitchell

On 12 December 1966, the Krays helped Frank Mitchell, "the Mad Axeman",[14] to escape from Dartmoor Prison. Ronnie had befriended Mitchell while they served time together in Wandsworth Prison. Mitchell felt that the authorities should review his case for parole, so Ronnie thought that he would be doing him a favour by getting him out of Dartmoor, highlighting his case in the media and forcing the authorities to act.

Once Mitchell was out of Dartmoor, the Krays held him at a friend's flat in Barking Road, East Ham. He was a large man with a mental disorder, and he was difficult to control. He disappeared, but the Krays were acquitted of his murder.[14] Freddie Foreman, a friend of the Krays, claimed in his autobiography Respect that he shot Mitchell dead as a favour to the twins and disposed of his body at sea.

Jack "the Hat" McVitie

The Krays' criminal activities remained hidden behind both their celebrity status and seemingly legitimate businesses. Reggie was allegedly encouraged by his brother in October 1967, four months after the suicide of his wife, Frances, to kill Jack "the Hat" McVitie, a minor member of the Kray gang who had failed to fulfil a £1000 contract, £500 of which had been paid to him in advance, to kill their financial advisor, Leslie Payne.[22][23] McVitie was lured to a basement flat in Evering Road, Stoke Newington on the pretence of a party. Upon entering the premises, he saw Ronnie Kray seated in the front room. As Ronnie approached him, he let loose a barrage of verbal abuse and cut him below his eye with a piece of broken glass. It is believed that an argument then broke out between the twins and McVitie. As the argument got more heated, Reggie Kray pointed a handgun at McVitie's head and pulled the trigger twice, but the gun failed to discharge.[24]

McVitie was then held in a bear hug by the twins' cousin, Ronnie Hart, and Reggie Kray was handed a carving knife. He then stabbed McVitie in the face and stomach, driving the blade into his neck while twisting the knife, not stopping even as McVitie lay on the floor dying. Reggie had committed a very public murder, against someone who many members of the Firm felt did not deserve to die. In an interview in 2000, shortly after Reggie's death, Freddie Foreman revealed that McVitie had a reputation for leaving carnage behind him due to his habitual consumption of drugs and heavy drinking, and his having in the past threatened to harm the twins and their family.[25]

Tony and Chris Lambrianou and Ronnie Bender helped clear up the evidence of this crime, and attempted to assist in the disposal of the body. With McVitie's body being too big to fit in the boot of the car, the body was wrapped in an eiderdown and put in the back seat of a car. Tony Lambrianou drove the car with the body and Chris Lambrianou and Bender followed behind. Crossing the Blackwall tunnel, Chris lost Tony's car, and spent up to fifteen minutes looking around Rotherhithe area. They eventually found Tony, outside St Mary's Church, where he had run out of fuel with McVitie's body still inside the car. With no alternative than to dump the corpse in the churchyard, and attempt to plant a gang south of the River Thames, the body was left in the car and the three gangsters returned home. Bender then went on to phone Charlie Kray informing them that it had been dealt with. However, upon finding out where they had left McVitie's corpse, the twins were livid and desperately phoned Foreman, who was then running a pub in Southwark, to see if he could dispose of the body. With dawn breaking, Foreman found the car, broke into it and drove the body to Newhaven where, with the help of a trawlerman, the body was bound with chicken wire and dumped in the English Channel.[26]

This event started turning many people against the Krays, and some were prepared to testify to Scotland Yard as to what had happened, fearing that what happened to McVitie could easily happen to them. Leonard "Nipper" Read reopened his case against them.[27]

Arrest and trial

London gangster Reginald "Reggie" Kray in 1968
Photograph of London gangster Reginald Kray (second from left) taken in the months leading up to his trial in 1968. The evidence from this file and others resulted in him and his brother Ronald being sentenced to life imprisonment.

Inspector Leonard Read of Scotland Yard was promoted to the Murder Squad and his first assignment was to bring down the Kray twins. It was not his first involvement with them. During the first half of 1964, Read had been investigating their activities, but publicity and official denials of Ron's relationship with Boothby made the evidence that he collected useless. Read went after the twins with renewed activity in 1967, but frequently came up against the East End "wall of silence" which discouraged anyone from providing information to the police.[28]

Nevertheless, by the end of 1967 Read had built up enough evidence against the Krays. Witness statements incriminated them, as did other evidence, but none made a convincing case on any one charge.

Early in 1968, the Krays employed Alan Bruce Cooper who sent Paul Elvey to Glasgow to buy explosives for a car bomb. Elvey was the radio engineer who put Radio Sutch on the air in 1964, later renamed Radio City. After police detained him in Scotland, he confessed to being involved in three murder attempts. The evidence was weakened by Cooper, who claimed that he was an agent for the US Treasury Department investigating links between the American Mafia and the Kray gang. The botched murders were his attempt to put the blame on the Krays. Cooper was being employed as a source by one of Read's superior officers, and Read tried using him as a trap for the Krays, but they avoided him.

Conviction and imprisonment

Eventually, a Scotland Yard conference decided to arrest the Krays on the evidence already collected, in the hope that other witnesses would be forthcoming once the Krays were in custody. On 8 May 1968,[29] the Krays and 15 other members of the Firm were arrested. Exceptional circumstances were put in place so as to stop any possible co-operation against any of the accused. Nipper Read then secretly interviewed each of the defendants, and offered each member of the Firm one chance to come onto the side of law and order. Whilst in prison, the Krays had come up with a plan, which included having Scotch Jack Dickson to confess to the murder of Cornell, Ronnie Hart to take the McVitie murder and Albert Donoghue to stand for Mitchell.

Donoghue told the twins directly that he wasn't prepared to be cajoled into pleading guilty, to the anger of the twins. He then informed Read via his mother, who set up another interview in secret, and Donoghue was the first to tell the police everything that he knew.

Ronnie Hart had initially not been arrested, and was not a name initially sought after by the police. With Donoghue's testimony, Hart was hunted down, found and arrested. Offering the same terms as the others arrested, Hart then told Read everything that had happened during McVitie's murder, although he did not know anything about what happened to the body. This was the first time that the police knew exactly who was involved, and offered them a solid case to prosecute the twins for McVitie's murder.

Although Read knew for certain that Ronnie Kray had murdered George Cornell in the Blind Beggar pub no one had been prepared to testify against the twins out of fear. Upon finding out the twins intended to cajole him, 'Scotch Jack' Dickson also turned in everything he knew about Cornell's murder. Although not a witness to the actual murder he was an accessory, having driven Ronnie Kray and Ian Barrie to the pub. The police still needed an actual witness to the murder. They then managed to track down the barmaid who was working in the pub at the time, gave her a secret identity and she testified to seeing Ronnie kill Cornell.

Frank Mitchell's escape and disappearance was much harder to obtain evidence for, since the majority of those arrested were not involved with his planned escape and disappearance. Read decided to proceed with the case and have a separate trial for Mitchell once the twins had been convicted.

The twins' defence under their counsel John Platts-Mills, QC consisted of flat denials of all charges and discrediting witnesses by pointing out their criminal past. Justice Melford Stevenson said: "In my view, society has earned a rest from your activities."[30] It was the longest murder hearing in history of British criminal justice.,[31] during which Justice Melford Stevenson stated of the sentences "which I recommend should not be less than thirty years."[32] In March 1969, both were sentenced to life imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 30 years for the murders of Cornell and McVitie, the longest sentences ever passed at the Old Bailey (Central Criminal Court, London) for murder. Their brother Charlie was imprisoned for ten years for his part in the murders.[33]

Later years

Ronnie and Reggie Kray were allowed, under heavy police guard, to attend the funeral service of their mother Violet on 11 August 1982 following her death from cancer a week earlier. They were not, however, allowed to attend her burial in the Kray family plot at Chingford Mount Cemetery. The funeral was attended by celebrities including Diana Dors and underworld figures known to the Krays.[34] To avoid the publicity that had surrounded their mother's funeral, the twins did not ask for permission to attend their father's funeral in March 1983.

Ronnie Kray was a Category A prisoner, denied almost all liberties and not allowed to mix with other prisoners. He was eventually certified insane, his paranoid schizophrenia being tempered with constant medication;[35] in 1979[36] he was committed and lived the remainder of his life in Broadmoor Hospital in Crowthorne, Berkshire.[37] Reggie Kray, constantly being refused parole,[35] was locked up in Maidstone Prison for 8 years (Category B). In 1997, he was transferred to the Category C Wayland Prison in Norfolk.[38]

In 1985, officials at Broadmoor Hospital discovered a business card of Ronnie's that led to evidence that the twins, from separate institutions, were operating Krayleigh Enterprises (a "lucrative bodyguard and 'protection' business for Hollywood stars") together with their older brother Charlie Kray and an accomplice at large. Among their clients was Frank Sinatra, who hired 18 bodyguards from Krayleigh Enterprises on his visit to the 1985 Wimbledon Championships. Documents released under Freedom of Information laws revealed that although officials were concerned about this operation, they believed that there was no legal basis to shut it down.[39]

Personal lives


In his book My Story and a comment to writer Robin McGibbon on The Kray Tapes, Ronnie states: "I'm bisexual, not gay. Bisexual." He also planned to marry a woman named Monica in the 1960s whom he had dated for nearly three years. He called her "the most beautiful woman he had ever seen." This is mentioned in Reggie's book Born Fighter. Also, extracts are mentioned in Ron's own book My Story and Kate Kray's books Sorted; Murder, Madness and Marriage, and Free at Last.

Ronnie was arrested before he had the chance to marry Monica, and although she married his ex-boyfriend, 59 letters sent to her between May and December 1968 when he was imprisoned show Ronnie still had feelings for her, and his love for her was very clear. He referred to her as "my little angel" and "my little doll." She also still had feelings for Ronnie. These letters were auctioned in 2010.[40]

A letter Ronnie sent to his mother Violet from prison in 1968 also refers to Monica: "if they let me see Monica and put me with Reg, I could not ask for more." He went on to say, with spelling mistakes, "Monica is the only girl I have liked in my life. She is a luvely little person as you know. When you see her, tell her I am in luve with her more than ever."[41] Ronnie subsequently married twice, marrying Elaine Mildener in 1985 at Broadmoor chapel before the couple divorced in 1989, following which he married Kate Howard, whom he divorced in 1994.[21]

In an interview with author John Pearson, Ronnie indicated he identified with the 19th century soldier Gordon of Khartoum: "Gordon was like me, homosexual, and he met his death like a man. When it's time for me to go, I hope I do the same."[42]


Reggie married Frances Shea in 1965; she committed suicide two years later. In 1997, Reggie married Roberta Jones,[21] whom he met while still in prison; she was helping to publicise a film being made about him.[43]


There was a long-running campaign, with some minor celebrity support, to have the twins released from prison, but successive Home Secretaries vetoed the idea, largely on the grounds that both Krays' prison records were marred by violence toward other inmates. The campaign gathered momentum after the release of a film based on their lives called The Krays (1990). Produced by Ray Burdis, it starred Spandau Ballet brothers Martin and Gary Kemp, who played the roles of Reggie and Ronnie respectively. Ronnie, Reggie and Charlie Kray received £255,000 for the film.[21]

Reggie wrote: "I seem to have walked a double path most of my life. Perhaps an extra step in one of those directions might have seen me celebrated rather than notorious."[44] Others point to Reggie's violent prison record when he was being detained separately from Ronnie and argue that in reality, the twins' temperaments were little different.

Reggie's marriage to Frances Shea (1943–67)[45] in 1965 lasted eight months when she left, although the marriage was never formally dissolved. An inquest came to the conclusion that she committed suicide,[46] but in 2002 an ex-lover of Reggie Kray's came forward to allege that Frances was murdered by a jealous Ronnie. Bradley Allardyce spent 3 years in Maidstone Prison with Reggie and explained, "I was sitting in my cell with Reg and it was one of those nights where we turned the lights down low and put some nice music on and sometimes he would reminisce. He would get really deep and open up to me. He suddenly broke down and said 'I'm going to tell you something I've only ever told two people and something I've carried around with me' – something that had been a black hole since the day he found out. He put his head on my shoulder and told me Ronnie killed Frances. He told Reggie what he had done two days after."[47]

A British television documentary, The Gangster and the Pervert Peer (2009), showed that Ronnie Kray was a rapist of men. The programme also detailed his relationship with Conservative peer Bob Boothby as well as an ongoing Daily Mirror investigation into Lord Boothby's dealings with the Kray brothers.[48][49][50]


Ronnie died on 17 March 1995 at the age of 61 at Wexham Park Hospital in Slough, Berkshire. He had suffered a heart attack at Broadmoor Hospital two days earlier.[51] Reggie was allowed out of prison in handcuffs to attend the funeral.[52]

During his incarceration, Reggie Kray became a born-again Christian.[53] He was freed from Wayland on 26 August 2000 on compassionate grounds, on the direction of Home Secretary Jack Straw, following the diagnosis of cancer.[54] He had been diagnosed with bladder cancer earlier that year, and the illness had been declared as terminal.[55] The final weeks of his life were spent with his wife of three years, Roberta,[56] in a suite at the Townhouse Hotel at Norwich,[57] having left the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital on 22 September 2000.[58] On 1 October 2000, Reggie died in his sleep.[59] Ten days later, he was buried beside his brother Ronnie in Chingford Mount Cemetery.[60] During the funeral, crowds of thousands lined up to applaud signs of relief from his threats, others weeping at the loss of a patron who protected them from police harassment and prevented social crimes like child abuse and rape. The Kray twins commanded both fear and admiration from the residents.[61]

Ronnie and Reggie's older brother Charlie Kray was released from prison in 1975 after serving seven years for his role in their gangland crimes,[62] but was sentenced again in 1997 for conspiracy to smuggle cocaine in an undercover drugs sting.[63] He died in prison of natural causes on 4 April 2000,[64] aged 73.[62]

Chingford Mount Cemetery 08

Ronnie and Reggie Kray's grave, Chingford

Chingford Mount Cemetery 09

Charlie Kray's grave, Chingford

Chingford Mount Cemetery 06

The grave of Violet Kray, mother of Charlie and of the Kray twins, Chingford

Chingford Mount Cemetery 12

The grave of Frances Kray, Reggie's wife, Chingford

In popular culture

The Kray twins have seeded an extensive bibliography leading to many autobiographical accounts, biographical reconstructions, commentaries, analysis, fiction and mere speculation. They have contributed a large influence in topic films, audio tapes, walking tours, and parody. Their nefarious careers successfully engaged the cultural outreach of public appreciation, the magnetism and public agitation of their reputation.[32]


After the imprisonment of the Kray twins, the film culture developed a new breed of nattily attired businessmen taking over narcotics, pornography, prostitution, and real estate.[65] The Kray twins were a large influence on the depiction of the original gangster in American filmography.[66]

In addition to films explicitly about the twins, James Fox met Ronnie whilst the twins were held at HM Prison Brixton as part of his research for his role in the 1970 film Performance, and Richard Burton visited Ronnie at Broadmoor as part of his preparation for his role as a violent gangster in the 1971 film Villain.[21]


  • Gaines, J.H. (2012). The Krays Not Guilty Your Honour. Biography
  • Pearson, John (1972). The Profession of Violence: The Rise and Fall of the Kray Twins. Biography
  • Kray, Reggie; Kray, Ronnie (1988). Our Story. autobiography
  • Kray, Reggie (1990). Born Fighter. autobiography
  • Kray, Ronnie (1994). My Story. autobiography
  • Kray, Reggie (2000). A Way of Life: Over Thirty Years of Blood, Sweat and Tears. Autobiography of Reggie Kray
  • Kray, Charles (2000). Me and my Brothers. autobiography of the Kray twins


  • Ronnie Kray is mentioned in the Blur song "Charmless Man", in the line: "I think he'd like to have been Ronnie Kray".
  • Ray Davies repeats the line "...and don't forget the Kray twins" in his song "London", later adding, "very dangerous people those Kray twins".
  • The former singer of the Smiths and solo artist Morrissey mentions each Kray brother by name in his song "The Last of the Famous International Playboys" saying, "Reggie Kray do you know my name?" and "Ronnie Kray do you know my face?". It was reported that Morrissey sent a wreath to Reggie Kray's funeral in 2000.[68]
  • Renegade Soundwave released their first single, "Kray Twins", in 1986. They also recorded a video for the song. Lyrics reference the Blind Beggar pub.
  • The Libertines song "Up the Bracket" references the Kray twins as "two shadow men on the Vallance Road."
  • Lethal Bizzle mentions the Kray twins in his song London in the line "I'm a London boy like the Kray, Kray Kray" after which he repeats "Ronnie, Reggie" twice.
  • Reggie Kray is mentioned in the Idles (band) song "Colossus" in the last line: "I'm like Reggie Kray"
  • Magneto Dayo released a song titled "The Krays" in 2019 referencing the Twins.


  • The television drama series Whitechapel includes a three episode mini-series which was first aired 11 October 2010. In this series twin brothers were portrayed as the alleged biological sons of Ronnie Kray.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus parodied the brothers as the ridiculously violent gangsters Doug and Dinsdale Piranha, and chronicled their arrest at the hands of Police Superintendent/amateur actor Harry "Snapper" Organs.
  • The Kray twins were one of the subjects of the fourth episode of the UK version of the TV show Drunk History.
  • The Kray twins were one of the subjects of the third episode of the documentary Gangsters:Faces of the Underworld
  • The Kray twins were mentioned in The Inbetweeners episode, Camping Trip, when Jay Cartwright lies about how his dad can not pick them up, as he is playing a private poker tournament with the Krays and Danny Dyer
  • The Kray twins were mentioned by Jeremy Clarkson in The Grand Tour season 2, episode 6 in reference to owning a Jaguar 420G similar to the one Richard Hammond was driving in the episode's Colorado adventure. It was also mentioned that they were the reason the Italian mafia were prevented from establishing a foothold in London in the 1960s.
  • Alexei Sayle plays two twin gangsters modeled on the Kray twins in The Comic Strip Presents... episode "Didn't You Kill My Brother?". The cover of the song named after the episode features Sayle posing as the twins. Sayle also played a Kray twin in a Alexei Sayle's Stuff sketch.
  • Portrayed as young children in the comedy Goodnight Sweetheart.
  • In the British soap opera Eastenders, Grant Mitchell describes local crime boss Johnny Allen as being "on Ronnie and Reggie mode".


'Warped' by Martin Malcolm directed by Russell Lucas opened at VAULT Festival in 2019. The play tells the story of two young men who idolise the Krays.

Two plays were produced in the 1970s that were based on thinly-veiled versions of the Krays:


  • Cornelia Parker at Fifth Street Gallery, London, photos depicting violent undertones of East End London during the Funeral of Reggie Kray. Demonstrating the fascination of newspaper photographers of his responsibility for his criminal actions.[69]


  1. ^ Watson-Smyth, Kate (15 July 1997). "Flowers, but no champagne at Reggie Kray's wedding". The Independent. London. Retrieved 6 December 2011.
  2. ^ Clydesdale, Lindsay (13 October 2009). "Roberta Kray on her life as a gangster's widow". Daily Record newspaper online. Scotland. Retrieved 6 December 2011.
  3. ^ a b Hobbs, Dick (18 March 1995). "OBITUARY:Ron Kray". The Independent. London. Retrieved 6 December 2011.
  4. ^ "Ancestry of the Kray twins". Retrieved 16 August 2011.
  5. ^ "Photographs: Violet Annie Kray (nee Lee) & Charles James Kray".
  6. ^ a b c Barratt, Robin (24 February 2011). The Mammoth Book of Hard Bastards. Little, Brown Book Group. ISBN 9781849017596.
  7. ^ Kray, Reg. Born Fighter. p. 8.
  8. ^ "Reggie Kray with his grandfather, 1964", photo (c) Brian Duffy,, slideshow with "Fashion and portrait photographer Brian Duffy dies aged 76" by Roya Nikkhah, 5 June 2010 12:30 pm BST. Retrieved 5 June 2010.
  9. ^ In Their Own Words 2 - More Letters from History. Bloomsbury. 2018. ISBN 9781844865246.
  10. ^ "WordNet Search – 3.1". Retrieved 16 August 2011.
  11. ^ Pearson, John (1995). The Profession of Violence: The Rise and Fall of the Kray Twins. HarperCollins Publishers.
  12. ^ "History". the Berkeley Hotel. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  13. ^ Tenenbaum, Sergio (2007). "Appearances of the Good": viii.
  14. ^ a b c d "History > Famous Cases > The Krays". Metropolitan Police Service. Archived from the original on 11 July 2016.
  15. ^ The Krays, accessed 28 October 2007 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 12 October 2007. Retrieved 21 April 2008.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  16. ^ Barrett, David (26 July 2009). "Letters shed new light on Kray twins scandal". Sunday Telegraph.
  17. ^ "Obituary of Reggie Kray". BBC News. 1 October 2000. Retrieved 16 August 2011.
  18. ^ "The Gangster and the Pervert Peer (Episode Guide)". Channel 4. 2009. Retrieved 28 October 2014.
  19. ^ Channel 4 TV (23 June 1997). Lords of The Underground.
  20. ^ "Lords of the Underground". The Spectator. 28 June 1997.
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i Campbell, Duncan (3 September 2015). "The selling of the Krays: how two mediocre criminals created their own legend". Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  22. ^ The Murders of the Black Museum: 1980-1970 ISBN 978-1-854-71160-1 p. 546
  23. ^ "Don't Forget the Krays Were Killers". The Telegraph. 30 August 2000. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  24. ^ The Murders of the Black Museum: 1980-1970 ISBN 978-1-854-71160-1 p. 547
  25. ^ The Murders of the Black Museum: 1980-1970 ISBN 978-1-854-71160-1 pp. 546-547
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External links

Bert Rossi

Umberto "Bert" Rossi (1 November 1922 – 2 July 2017) was a British-Italian gangster and former associate of the Kray twins known as the "General of Clerkenwell". He stood trial for murder in 1975 but was acquitted. A journalist linked him to 11 murders, a figure which he did not dispute.

Born Fighter

Born Fighter is an autobiographical book written by Reginald Kray. In 1969 he and his twin brother Ronnie Kray received life sentences for the murders of George Cornell and Jack McVitie. First published in London in 1990 in hardback by Century and paperback in 1991 by subsidiary Arrow Books.

Reggie Kray wrote several successful books while incarcerated in high security prison as a "Category A" prisoner for 30 years (of those, 18 years in Parkhurst Prison). The book gives a first-hand account of Reggie's life as one half of the most notorious underworld gangsters in the 1950s and 1960.

Esmeralda's Barn

Esmeralda's Barn was a nightclub in Wilton Place, Knightsbridge, London, that was owned by the Kray twins from 1960 until its closure in 1963. The Krays used the club as a way of expanding their criminal activities into London's West End.

Frank Mitchell

Frank Mitchell may refer to:

Frank Mitchell (sportsman, born 1872) (1872–1935), English cricketer and rugby union player

Sir Frank Herbert Mitchell (1878–1951), English cricketer and member of the British Royal household, 1920–1931

Frank Mitchell (goalkeeper) (1890–?), Scottish football goalkeeper (Liverpool, Everton, Motherwell)

Frank Mitchell (actor) (1905–1991), American actor

Frank Mitchell (sportsman born 1922) (1922–1984), Australian-born association footballer and county cricketer

Frank Mitchell (politician) (born 1926), politician in British Columbia, Canada

Frank Mitchell (musician) (c. 1945–c. 1971), American jazz saxophonist

Frank Mitchell (prisoner) (c. 1929–1966), English criminal known as "The Mad Axeman" and associate of the Kray twins

Frank Mitchell (presenter) (born 1960), Northern Irish TV presenter

Frank Mitchell (striker), soccer player

Frank N. Mitchell (1921–1950), US Marine and Medal of Honor recipient

W. Franklin Mitchell, American politician

Frank Mitchell (bowls) (born 1911), South African lawn bowler

George Cornell

George Cornell (born George Myers; 13 November 1927 – 10 March 1966) was an English criminal and member of the Richardson Gang, who were scrap metal dealers and criminals. He was shot and killed by Ronnie Kray at the Blind Beggar public house in Whitechapel in the East End of London. Kray was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder three years later and remained in Broadmoor Hospital until his death in 1995.

Jack McVitie

Jack D. McVitie (1932, Battersea, London – 29 October 1967, Stoke Newington, London), more commonly known as Jack the Hat, was a notorious English criminal from London of the 1950s–1960s. He is posthumously famous for triggering the imprisonment and downfall of the Kray twins. He had acted as an enforcer and hitman with links to the Krays' gang, The Firm, and was murdered by Reggie Kray in 1967.

Kray was arrested the following year for the murder, being found guilty and received life imprisonment at his trial in March 1969. He remained in prison until just before his death, which was in 2000. Ronnie Kray was imprisoned for life at the same time for the murder of George Cornell in 1966 and remained behind bars until his death in 1995.

John Pearson (author)

John George Pearson (born 5 October 1930) is an English novelist and an author of biographies, notably of Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, and of the Kray twins.


Kray or krai may refer to:

Krai, a type of a federal subject in Russia or a type of an administrative division of the former RSFSR

KRAY-FM, a radio station

Kray twins, the London gangsters

Kray, Rap/Hip-Hop Artist

Baron Pál Kray (1735–1804), Hungarian-Austrian General during the Napoleonic Wars

Kray, a 2010 Russian film

Essen-Kray, a borough of the German city Essen

Legend (2015 film)

Legend is a 2015 biographical crime thriller film written and directed by American director Brian Helgeland. It is adapted from John Pearson's book The Profession of Violence: The Rise and Fall of the Kray Twins, which deals with their rise and fall, the relationship that bound them together, and follows their gruesome career to imprisonment for life in 1969.This is Helgeland's fifth feature film. Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, David Thewlis and Christopher Eccleston star with Chazz Palminteri, Paul Bettany, Tara Fitzgerald and Taron Egerton as well as singer Duffy featured in supporting roles.

List of British gangsters

This is a list of some organised crime figures within the underworld of the United Kingdom.

My Story (Kray book)

My Story is an autobiographical book written by Ronnie Kray. He, along with his twin brother Reggie, were said to be some of the most feared gangsters in British history.

Originally published in hardback 1993 by Sidgwick & Jackson, it was re-published in paperback on 7 October 1994 by Pan Books part of Macmillan Publishers.

Our Story

Our Story may refer to:

Our Story (book), autobiography about the Kray twins

Our Story (film), 1984 film directed by Bertrand Blier

OurStory Scotland, a community history and oral history project founded in 2002 to record the histories of Scotland's LGBT communities

"Our Story", an episode of the television series Teletubbies

"Westlife: Our Story", autobiography about the Irish band Westlife

Our Story (book)

Our Story is an autobiographical book by Ronnie and Reggie Kray with Fred Dinenage. It was first released in 1988 by Sidgwick & Jackson, and in paperback on 8 September 1989 by Pan Books.

Parkhurst, Isle of Wight

Parkhurst is a neighbourhood northwest of the town of Newport, Isle of Wight. It has few amenities, but a large residential population.

It is notable for housing H.M.P. Isle of Wight, on three sites, formerly three separate prisons: the well-known Parkhurst Prison itself, Camp Hill, and Albany. Parkhurst and Albany were once amongst the few top-security prisons in the United Kingdom but were downgraded in the 1990s.A number of well-known criminals were accommodated in the Parkhurst prisons, including John Duddy, Graham Young, the Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe and the Kray twins.The prisons caused the construction during the mid 20th century of housing estates to accommodate prison workers and their families, and much of the area is characterised by these poor-quality estates, now largely in private ownership but still in need of repair.Parkhurst also adjoins Parkhurst Forest, a large Forestry Commission owned woodland which includes plantation woodland and a large area of ancient woodland, and is well used by local people for recreation.

Parkhurst is situated on the A3020 road and is served by frequent buses on Southern Vectis route 1.

Piranha Brothers

"Piranha Brothers" is a Monty Python sketch that was first seen in the first episode (titled "Face the Press") of the second series of Monty Python's Flying Circus. Originally transmitted on the television comedy on September 15, 1970, the premise is a BBC current affairs documentary program, inexplicably entitled Ethel the Frog, retrospectively covering the exploits of the brothers Doug and Dinsdale Piranha. The sociopathic criminals employed a combination of "violence and sarcasm" to intimidate the London underworld and bring the city to its knees. Dinsdale is also described as being afraid of "Spiny Norman", a gigantic imaginary hedgehog whose reported size varied on Dinsdale's mood. During the end of the sketch, which also ends the episode, the creature is apparently revealed as real and appearing beside various English landmarks as the credits roll.

The Krays (film)

The Krays is a 1990 British drama film based on the lives and crimes of the British gangster twins Ronald and Reginald Kray, often referred to as The Krays. The film was written by Philip Ridley and directed by Peter Medak.

The Last of the Famous International Playboys

"The Last of the Famous International Playboys" was the third single released by Morrissey. It reached number 6 in the UK Singles Chart. The song was not featured on one of Morrissey's main studio albums but can be found on the compilation album Bona Drag along with the B-side "Lucky Lisp". The artwork for the single features Morrissey, aged 7, up a tree in Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester—literally a boy at play. "The Last of the Famous International Playboys" is notable for featuring three of Morrissey's former colleagues in The Smiths—Andy Rourke, Mike Joyce and one-time Smiths rhythm guitarist Craig Gannon—all of whom also appear on the B-side, "Lucky Lisp".

The song mythologizes the notorious pair of vicious London gangsters known as the Kray twins (Ronnie and Reggie Kray), who held a tight rein on the East End of London during the 1960s.

The Rise of the Krays

The Rise of the Krays is a 2015 low-budget film about the Kray twins who terrorised London during the 1950s and 1960s. The film was funded by Terry Brown and David Sullivan and was in development before the production team learned of Legend, the blockbuster scheduled for release the same year.

Tony Lambrianou

Anthony "Tony" Thomas Lambrianou (1942, Bethnal Green, London - March 2004, Kent) was an English criminal known for his association with the Kray Twins. He was born to a Greek Cypriot father and English mother from Consett.Lambrianou served 15 years in jail for his part in the murder of Jack "The Hat" McVitie in 1967.

Murder victims


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