Part of the massive draw for many visitors to HMP Shepton Mallet is that the infamous and rather vile Kray twins once resided within its grey stone walls for (now this is where the history gets blurry) anything from one upto twelve months. Our in-house historian reckons nine. It was definitely a more prolonged stay than four weeks though, but what we do know is that it began at the end of 1952. They were not 'inside' for anything glamorous or murdery at this point, that was all ahead, but instead they were imprisoned for refusing to do compulsory national service, in other words, they went AWOL. We do not know which cells the brothers occupied. And no, they certainly wouldn't have been kept together! This is a favourite guest question and apparently the truth actually IS out there, but due to legal regulations, it cannot be revealed for something like another 50 years, so most of us shall perceive it from our graves. Hopefully.
It was at Shepton that the pair met Charlie Richardson, South London's gangland boss of a gang named funnily enough, The Richardsons. The Firm (Kray's gang) and The Richardson's by all accounts loathed each other and hatred from either of these foes should never have been underestimated. Charlie rather favoured torture as a means to an end.
Now, I have always steered clear of the twins Ronnie and Reggie myself. I never took to their stories like others did, I even remember girls at Northfleet School for Girls in the 90's idolising them and their foul deeds, but I don't know, maybe it was something about the East End of London that always put me off. I don't like cities, and oddly am no fan of crime thrillers either. Bad boy antics, even well dressed ones, do nothing for me. Strangely the only crime stories I'm interested in are Jack the Ripper and Ted Bundy. Make of that what you will...
However, within the last month and a bit I have begun working at HMP Shepton Mallet (you can hardly have perused my website and not have seen it mentioned!) as night supervisor to the massed ranks of the paranormal community - in other words, the shadowy world of the commercial group ghost hunters. I am not associated with the groups themselves, rather I am in charge of the prison itself, and now proudly own a key to the main gate! That was a moment I can tell you, very proud. My colleague Kate has now earnt her Mallety wings too. Sometimes we work together, but pretty soon we'll be flying solo - and that's going to be momentous. And rather scary. Believe me, locking up solo in that place at 3am when you're hearing crashes voices and footsteps is hard enough with two of you, let alone one...
I digress... My point is, that we get asked ALL THE TIME about the Kray twins, and I know next to nothing about them because frankly, they irritate me a bit. These are glorified bully boys, and nothing more. Anyway, I took it upon myself for the greater good (Hot Fuzz devotees, now say "Yarp!") to learn as much as possible by way of documentaries and whatnot. Rather bizarrely it also turns out that my Stepfather Brian lived at 172 Evering Road, the very road that at least one of the twins' murders took place, that of Jack the Hat McVitie. I mean that Reggie did the doings, not that the twins themselves were murdered. Let's get that straight... Brian actually remembers 'something' being removed from the house in rolled up bedding that looked suspiciously like a corpse.
Last Saturday I arrived on site very early (shift started at 7.15pm, I rocked up at 5.30pm) with a view to being able to record a little before opening the gates to other folks. I unlocked the various padlocks and gates, made sure that everything was set for the fray, and then had an EVP session for as long as I was able. I made my way to A Wing. A Wing is where the Krays were held (probably not for all of their stay, but for some of it) despite the fact that most people think it was C Wing. A Wing back when the Krays were imprisoned was known as C Wing, so that sort of blows many theories out of the water and leaves Kray fans a little deflated. According to visitsomerset.com (may not be accurate) the pair also did some time in what is probably segregation, although quite why two AWOL prisoners would be kept in such important suicide watch cells is beyond me. They were yet to become THE notorious killers they became, and so their infamy was not quite there just yet. If it was down to me they'd be on A3 at that would be the end of it.
I paused on A1, called out my customary, "Hello!" and heard my voice echo up the length of the wing. A Wing is different in that only one side has cells, three floors of them, but only on one side. The other side is quite literally the prison's outer wall, and to build cells backing onto this would be a recipe for tunnelling escape antics! The worst of the worst were apparently kept here. I walked the length of A1 asking the twins to please at long last, confirm exactly WHERE they were for the majority of their stay at Shepton. I mentioned Brian, I mentioned Jack the Hat. And then, at that moment on my recorder, I apparently recorded a man saying what sounds awfully like, "I murdered him (there)".
It's not crystal clear, but it's there.
Reggie Kray was convicted of murdering Jack McVitie at number 97 in 1967. It was because of Jack that the Kray twins eventually 'went down'. McVitie was supposed to have been shot in between parties held at the property, but the gun jammed and so Reg' stabbed him in the face, stomach, and chest. A true gentleman you might say.
Have l been successful in recording a directly intelligent EVP from Reggie Kray? Or is it wishful thinking? Well hardly wishful, for I have no interest in their violent and disgusting history (aside from Brian having lived so close! Who knew that even all those years ago, my family was destined to be linked to HMP Shepton??) but I can say for sure that I recorded something on A Wing last weekend. And I had been goading the twins a little. And I mentioned Jack the Hat...
I'll let you decide. Headphones please!!