(In)famous places within 15 minutes walk of my house Number 9 - the Krays' manor
1933: Identical twins Reggie and Ronnie Kray are born ten minutes apart. 1939: The family move from Shoreditch to 178 Vallance Road, Bethnal Green. 1951: Both twins appear in a middleweight boxing match at the Albert Hall. 1952: The twins desert their National Service on day 1 after decking the NCO. 1953: They buy the Regal, a run-down snooker club in Bethnal Green. The empire begins. 1956: The Kray's manor stretches from Bethnal Green to Bow and from Stepney to Hackney. 1957: When Ronnie is sent to prison, Reggie opens the 'Double R Club' on Bow Road. 1960: When Reggie is sent to prison. Ronnie takes control of a large Knightsbridge casino. 1964: The Daily Mirror retracts claims that Ronnie has been having sex with a Tory peer. 1965: Reggie marries Frances Shea, who two years later takes an overdose and dies. 1966: Ronnie walks into the Blind Beggar pub and shoots George Cornell dead. 1968: Reggie stabs Jack 'The Hat' McVitie to death in a house in Stoke Newington. 1969: Both twins are found guilty of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. 1995: Ronnie dies and his funeral cortege brings East London to a halt. 2000: Reggie dies and is buried alongside his brother in Chingford cemetery.
For a few years in the late Fifties a club in Bow was at the centre of the Kray brothers' legitimate business empire. Reggie snapped up a cheap derelict shop here while his brother was in prison, determined to open "the finest drinking club the East End’s ever known." Ronnie was not forgotten - the place was named the 'Double R' club. A gym was built on the first floor and Henry Cooper was invited to officially open the premises. It wasn't long before the club was attracting showbiz celebrities seeking an authentic East End atmosphere. Reggie's love affair with the rich and famous began here. He also opened a gambling club just down the road in Wellington Way, behind Bow Police Garage, and the money came rolling in. The Krays were in control.
I think that's the Double R Club in the photograph, the white building on the corner of Mile End Road and Burdett Road. It's proved impossible to do any 100% conclusive research on the club's exact location though, so if you should know any better please let me know.
The club is now split into two halves, with the front and first floor currently occupied by the garagetastic Purple E3 nightclub (previously Benjy's). The entire outside of the building is lit up every night in a disturbingly bright shade of aubergine. Meanwhile at the back can be found the Backstreet leather bar, catering to a rather different clientele. Reggie would no doubt have enjoyed the bling-bling glamour of the upstairs club, while Ronnie would have preferred it round the rear. Allegedly. You have to be so careful round here. Those Kray Brothers are still held in high esteem in this manor. Dead, but by no means forgotten.