Charles Kray was seven years older than his twin brothers, the gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray. Growing up, they shared a bedroom in the east end of London, and Charles stared down at the twins when they were babies in cots. “Sometimes they looked up at me in a strange, adult sort of way, and I’d have this weird feeling that they knew all about me and what was going on around them,” he wrote. “Their dark eyes seemed to lack that childlike innocence.” Charles Kray was as devoted to his mother Violet as the twins were. He recalled the autumn day when his life changed forever.
“In 1932 we moved to Stean Street, the other side of Kingsland Street. Just along from our new home was a stable yard, and the old man who looked after it let us kids play there. It was an exciting place and I spent a lot of time sitting on a wall, watching the man mucking out and grooming the horses when they came in after hauling delivery carts. I would go home smelling of manure and with muddy shoes. Mum would tell me off, but in a nice way. She never screamed and yelled like other women in the street…
One day a year later, when I was seven, I was encouraged to go out and play and not come back until called. Curious, and not a little put out, I watched the house from my wall for most of the day. There was a lot of coming and going and then, in the early evening, I was told I could go in. I went up to my mum’s bedroom and there they were.
‘Where did they come from?’ I asked.
‘I bought them,’ my mum replied.
‘But, Mum,’ I said. ‘Why did you buy two?’
It was a little after eight o’clock on 24 October 1933. My twin brothers had arrived.”
Charles Kray, with Robin McGibbon, Me and My Brothers: Inside the Kray Empire, 1988.