A woman’s fascination revealed in Reggie Kray letters

Auctineer Gary Don pictured with letters sent by gangster Reggie Kray.
Auctineer Gary Don pictured with letters sent by gangster Reggie Kray.
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A FRIENDSHIP between notorious gangster Reggie Kray and a Yorkshire woman has been revealed in a string of letters and gifts exchanged in the late 1980s.

The Cockney hardman spent about a year corresponding with a 20-something woman in Wyke, near Bradford who had developed something of a fascination with Kray, who was serving time for murder.

The pair swapped photographs of one another and she visited him several times in jail.

Now, the letters and gifts sent by Kray during 1988 and 1989, including a teddy bear and a child-like drawing of a deserted beach, are scheduled to be auctioned in Leeds at the start of next month.

Auctioneer Gary Don said the continuing fascination with the Kray twins should ensure the letters fetch more than their reserve price of £300.

“There is a massive interest in gangsters of the past amongst the public and there are lots of collectors out there, particularly for Kray items.

“The last sale of Kray items raised around £250,000.”

The letters reveal that Kray enjoyed offering the woman – known only as Jane – lots of advice, including recommending various yoga positions.

He also wrote “one of my ambitions is to go on a world tour by boat... can you imagine how nice that would be?”

In another Kray urges Jane to send him a photograph in just her bikini and confesses his favourite band is Dire Straits.

He reveals his efforts to stay healthy, writing in almost illegible handwriting: “Most people cannot understand my writing, I tend to rush as I write so many letters each day and so rush to get them written.

“I have just had vitamin pills after having practised yoga in the half light of my cell. I leave the light off while I do yoga.”

He tells Jane she is a “very attractive person” and that “I can imagine you have a personality to match your looks which makes you special, so I can see why your boyfriend is attracted to you. He looks a nice fellow and I note his fingernails are well kept which is good.

“If he (boyfriend) has no objections we can at a later date arrange for you to visit me in the company of my best friend. I will arrange to pay your expenses. Does (your boyfriend) know you have written to me? Give him my best wishes. Love, your friend Reg.”

In another he thanks Jane for sending him a Valentine’s card, saying: “Your card gave me a nice warm feeling. You know, something tells me you and I are going to get on real fine.”

He advises her to stay in London’s Carlton Towers hotel the next time she is in the capital, telling her his old friend (and notorious gangster) Billy Hill would approve.

“I had a meal there once with my late friend Billy Hill who used to run London in the 1950s.”

Kray also wrote about health matters and portrayed himself as something of an authority on yoga.

In one letter, he says: “Hello Jane, look up a yoga book and practice exercises for your thyroid gland – the fact it may be weak can cause anaemia. One to do is to sit on the floor and put your legs wide in front of you. Love, your friend Reg xxx.”

Auctioneer Gary Don said the seller wanted to remain anonymous as she has now moved on with her life.

“She visited him several times in prison and they struck up a close relationship. She feels it’s time to move on with her life and is now in a new relationship.

“She began by corresponding with him and he sent her birthday cards and showed concern about her health. He also asked her for a photo of her in her bikini and sent her a picture, which is like a child’s drawing.

“She just had a fascination with him. The Krays have always had celebrity status, they had magnetic personalities which attracted a lot of interest, not only from the general public but from the stars of stage and screen.”

Mr Don said he thought long and hard before accepting the items for auction because of the notoriety of the Krays and their violence.

“We have not sold anything from a gangster before. We were offered something from a mass murderer but we refused it.

“Reggie Kray is no longer around and it has gone into folklore, as bad as he was. Selling items such as this can have an effect on your reputation. I think the Krays are part of history and history is not always nice. These are now documents of historical value and interest.

“The fact that he sent the lady 24 letters in a year suggests that they were quite close. She has now moved on and does not want them any more.”

The letters are due to be sold by auction on Tuesday November 1. Other lots include autographs of stars such as Laurel and Hardy.

Violence behind a stylish veneer

REGGIE Kray and twin brother Ronnie were known for their stylish image but behind the respectable veneer they were responsible for violence, protection rackets and murder.

The brothers were convicted of murder in 1969 and by 2000 Reggie was one of Britain’s longest-serving prisoners. In August 2000 Home Secretary Jack Straw ordered his release after he was diagnosed with cancer and given weeks to live.

During his time in jail, Reggie had kept himself in the public eye, giving interviews to media organisations.

In 1998 his application for parole was rejected after the Parole Board said that he remained a devious and manipulative personality.

He had claimed to be a born-again Christian and in 1997 he married for the second time. His first wife, whom he wed in 1965, committed suicide.

When he was finally released he was almost 67. The final weeks of his life were spent with his wife Roberta. He died on October 1 2000 and was buried alongside his brother.