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Hundreds pack funeral of Krays associate Willie Malone at St Patrick’s in Wapping

PUBLISHED: 16:35 25 May 2017 | UPDATED: 12:08 27 May 2017

Funeral of Willie Malone in Wapping who was best man to East End gangster George Cornell. Picture: KEN MEARS

Funeral of Willie Malone in Wapping who was best man to East End gangster George Cornell. Picture: KEN MEARS

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Hundreds of people turned up today for the funeral of one of the last East End characters associated with the notorious Kray family.

Cioffin of Willie Malone being carried into St Patrick's Church. Picture: KEN MEARSCioffin of Willie Malone being carried into St Patrick's Church. Picture: KEN MEARS

Willie Malone, who died this week aged 86, was an entrepreneur and businessman with “a colourful East End past”.

He was best man to George Cornell who was later murdered by Ronnie Kray in Whitechapel’s Blind Beggar pub in 1966.

The one-time docker had a lifelong love of horses. A team of four pulled his hearse today through the streets of Wapping, on the way to St Patrick’s Roman Catholic church for the funeral service and homily.

Original delivery cart used by Willie Malone, early 1950s, used in his funeral procession through Wapping. Picture: KEN MEARSOriginal delivery cart used by Willie Malone, early 1950s, used in his funeral procession through Wapping. Picture: KEN MEARS

Another two grey horses behind the hearse pulled the original delivery cart, now restored, that he used when he set up his tea import company in Whitechapel after he left the London Docks.

He was later buried at City of London cemetery in Manor Park.

“My grandfather was one of the last people left from that 1960s era,” Michael Malone told the East London Advertiser.

Funeral of Willie Malone in Wapping. Picture: MIKE BROOKEFuneral of Willie Malone in Wapping. Picture: MIKE BROOKE

“He went on to own pubs in the East End and nightclubs and also imported horses from Ireland.”

Michael gave a 10-minute eulogy about his grandfather’s strong love for the family and his love of horses.

It followed a homily by the Deacon Joshua Hilton at the church where Willie was first baptised in 1930.

Willie Malone's funeral in Wapping. Picture: MIKE BROOKEWillie Malone's funeral in Wapping. Picture: MIKE BROOKE

“He had a strong connection to some of the East End’s more colourful history,” Michael recalled earlier.

“My granddad was the best man to George Cornell who met his death at the Blind Beggar and was also a friend of the Kray family.

“But he was modest about any incidents from his colourful past.

“He is mentioned in books about East End gangland with Roy Shaw, Reggie Kray, Frankie Frazer, Freddie Foreman and Joey Pile.”

A TV documentary in 2014 about the notorious Watney Street gang suggested Willie had a lead role—an apology was later aired as the suggestion had been made after the mistaken belief that he had died, according to the family.

“My grandfather never choose to glorify any incidents from his colourful past,” Michael added.

“He is always described as a very fair man, but not someone to cross.

“Probably he’s one of the last of the ‘old guard’ and has been described as gentleman throughout his life.”

Willie Malone, raised in Wapping in a staunch Catholic community who brought up his own family in Mile End in the 1950s and 60s, would have turned 87 in July.

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