In the 50s and 60s the Krays owned much the entertainment in East London such nightclubs, pubs and bars. In this post I will be researching what they owned how it helped to earn their reputation and power in the London and the east end.
After ending their boxing careers due to the amount of discharges they got and their criminal records, they took up the criminal life full time. After going full time they decided to buy a run down snooker club in Bethnal Green where they started several protection rackets. By the end of the 1950s they acquired clubs and other entertainment properties by working for Jay Murray from Liverpool. This work involved hijacking, armed robbery and arson.
In 1960 Peter Rachman, head of a violent landlord operation, gave Reggie a nightclub called Esmeralda’s barn. This was to be the first of many to owned by the Krays in the East End. It is located on the Knightsbridge at the end of Wilton Place next to a bistro called Joan’s Kitchen. This increased the Krays’ influence in the West End by making them celebrities as well as criminals.
Though the 1960s they were seen as charming celebrity nightclub owners and were part of the London scene. Their fame was largely down to the non-criminal activities they would take part in. For example 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, Barbara Windsor, and singer Frank Sinatra.
“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
Doe, J. (2016) ‘Kray twins’, in Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kray_twins (Accessed: 21 November 2016).
My Story, 1993, Ronnie Kray, Sidgwick & Jackson (hardback) Pan Books (paperback)