The Krays enjoy the beach, ride a horse and go for a spin in these never-before-seen colour pictures


Smiling for the camera, immaculately dressed and with relaxed hands in his pocket, Ronnie Kray seems a world away from the brutal organised crime that he and his twin brother, Reggie, wrought upon the East End during the 1960s.

They were feared by all for perpetrating the very worst of acts – from murder, armed robbery and arson to protection rackets and assaults – but at the height of their violent empire, there was a very different side to the Krays. 

The shot of Ronnie casually standing on the beach at Steeple Bay, Essex, where he had a caravan, is one of 40 remarkable, never-before-seen colour photographs published in The Krays Book of Slang.

Away from crime: East End gangster Ronnie Kray adopts a relaxed pose on the beach at Steeple Bay, Essex, where he had a caravan

Away from crime: East End gangster Ronnie Kray adopts a relaxed pose on the beach at Steeple Bay, Essex, where he had a caravan

Author Steve Wraith, told The Sun on Sunday: ‘When anyone thinks of the Krays they think of the headlines, the crimes and the life sentences they both received.

‘But these pictures show another side.

‘They show them relaxing with family and friends, on holiday, with their mother Violet, Reg on his honeymoon and even Ron horse riding.’ 

Of the latter, Ronnie is seen wearing a trilby and green cardigan while going for a trot on his horse, while in another he enjoys a ride in a primrose yellow MG convertible.

Elsewhere, the twins are seen posing with friends and family and Ron enjoys a few rounds with Tommy ‘The Bear’ Brown, a local boxer who worked for the twins as a doorman at their club, The Regency. 

Horse play: Ronnie dons a trilby and green cardigan for a relaxed trot on a horse around a field int he unlikely series of photographs

Horse play: Ronnie dons a trilby and green cardigan for a relaxed trot on a horse around a field int he unlikely series of photographs

Easy rider: Ronnie enjoys being driven in a pale primrose yellow MG convertible. The Kray twins often mixed with politicians and prominent entertainers at their successful London nightclub

Easy rider: Ronnie enjoys being driven in a pale primrose yellow MG convertible. The Kray twins often mixed with politicians and prominent entertainers at their successful London nightclub

Boxing clever: Ronnie Kray goes a few rounds with his club doorman, Tommy 'The Bear' Brown. The twins were aspiring boxers before they turned to a life of crime

Boxing clever: Ronnie Kray goes a few rounds with his club doorman, Tommy ‘The Bear’ Brown. The twins were aspiring boxers before they turned to a life of crime

Just married: Reg Kray (third from left) on honeymoon with Frances Shea (fourth from left) after they married in 1965. She committed suicide two years later

Just married: Reg Kray (third from left) on honeymoon with Frances Shea (fourth from left) after they married in 1965. She committed suicide two years later

Happy families: A picture of the Kray clan, including parents Violet and Charlie Kray Snr. The brothers were born in Hoxton, east London, in 1933

Happy families: A picture of the Kray clan, including parents Violet and Charlie Kray Snr. The brothers were born in Hoxton, east London, in 1933

The Kray brothers, born in Hoxton, east London, in 1933, began their life of violence young. 

At nine, they had such a violent fight that Ronnie, the younger by ten minutes, almost died from his head injury.

A decade later, and already known for their violence and thuggery, they walked out of national service, pausing only to punch the corporal who tried to stop them, leaving him seriously injured. 

They were arrested and sent back to the Army, but went AWOL again, only to assault a policeman who tried to arrest them, which landed them in the Tower of London, as some of the last prisoners ever to be detained there, followed by a string of other prisons and then a dishonourable discharge from the Army.

Crime took the thuggish brothers away from what could have been a promising future in boxing, and they devoted their lives to their gang, known as The Firm, while attempting a series of business ventures.

The Krays devoted their lives to their gang, The Firm, and wrought brutal crime on the East End throughout the 1960s before their eventual arrest in 1968

The Krays devoted their lives to their gang, The Firm, and wrought brutal crime on the East End throughout the 1960s before their eventual arrest in 1968

The first of these was a club called The Regal off Mile End Road, which had an uninviting exterior but inside was a glamorous and decadent nightclub, overseen by the sharp-suited brothers.

Despite their smooth appearances, however, the brothers were involved in a life of appalling crime, running protection rackets, as well as staging hijacks and armed robberies.

Ronnie, who was considered the more violent of the two, was imprisoned for GBH in 1957, and diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia during his jail term. He was also publicly bisexual, an unusual thing to admit at the time, and something his brother found hard to come to terms with.

Reggie was imprisoned two years later, but by 1960 both were out of prison and had become almost celebrities, socialising with stars such as Barbara Windsor, Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland, as well as well as eminent politicians including Lord Boothby, with whom Ronnie had an affair.

In 1965, Reggie married Frances Shea, but the union only lasted a few months and she died in 1967, apparently from suicide but it was rumoured that Ronnie murdered her.

The police frequently investigated the twins’ activities, but with the East End living in fear of the notorious twins, no-one dared testify against them, so their misdemeanours often went unchallenged.

The Firm then largely consisted of the brothers, their cousin, Albert Donoghue, and at least 13 others, including brothers Tony and Chris Lambrianou.

The Krays were briefly allowed out of their respective prisons to attend the funeral of their mother, Violet, in 1982

The Krays were briefly allowed out of their respective prisons to attend the funeral of their mother, Violet, in 1982

In 1966, the Krays helped Frank Mitchell, also known as The Mad Axeman, escape from Dartmoor Prison, and put him up at a friend’s flat in East Ham. He subsequently disappeared, and while the brothers were acquitted of his murder, a later book claimed that he had been shot.

The same year, Ronnie shot George Cornell dead in the Blind Beggar pub in Whitechapel. Cornell, an associate of South London gang, the Richardsons, is said to have remarked: ‘Well look who’s here’ just before he was shot.

And in 1967, Reggie Kray murdered former gang member Jack ‘The Hat’ Mcvitie in Stoke Newington, stabbing him in the face and stomach with a carving knife, twisting the knife as McVitie lay dying.

The brothers were given life sentences in 1968, with no chance of parole for 30 years. Ronnie died in Broadmoor, aged 61 in 1995, and Reggie, died at 66, in 2000

The brothers were given life sentences in 1968, with no chance of parole for 30 years. Ronnie died in Broadmoor, aged 61 in 1995, and Reggie, died at 66, in 2000

The brothers were finally brought to justice in the middle of 1968, when they and several members of The Firm were arrested, and both brothers given life sentences with no chance of parole for 30 years.

The judge, Mr Justice Melford Stevenson, told them: ‘In my view, society has earned a rest from your activities.’

They were allowed out of prison for their mother’s funeral in 1982, but Ronnie died in Broadmoor, aged 61 in 1995, and Reggie, died at 66, in 2000, a few weeks after being allowed out on compassionate leave.  

The Krays Book of Slang is available to buy from www.thekrays.net



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