Kray twins got thick ear from Granny Kelly’s East End pie’n’mash owner
- Credit: Kray family collection
The notorious Kray twins were once naughty little boys who got a thick ear from Kelly’s pie’n’mash shop owner in London’s East End where they grew up.
They would often be sent out by mum to the pie shop down Bethnal Green Road, which this week celebrates 100 years of trading—but would play pranks with the vinegar bottles.
“My dad used to give the twins a thick ear for unscrewing the vinegar tops so customers would unwittingly pour the lot onto their dinner,” third-generation Bob Kelly, 65, told the East London Advertiser.
“He would chuck them out without serving them. The twins would run home and tell their mum—and she’d give them another clip.”
The story about the young Krays growing up in Vallance Road round the corner, whose mother Violet was one of Kelly’s regular customers, came to light when Bob was preparing this week’s celebrations to mark the centenary of the family-run pie shop first opened by his grandmum in 1915.
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Bob was born above the shop in 1950, before the family moved out to Walthamstow when he was 22 and finally to Buckhurst Hill.
His youngest son Neil, 40, runs the business today—Bob just pops in from time to time keeping his finger in the pie, as it were.
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The Kelly’s have never lost their East End roots in 100 years.
They also never seemed to loose the grip of the Kray twins, whose funeral processions—Ron in 1995 and Reg in 2000—both paused outside the shop after the services at St Matthew’s church round the corner.
“We got calls from the Kray family both times asking if it was alright if they stopped outside on the way to the cemetery,” Bob recalls. “The Krays loved their cockney pie’n’mash—and they never extorted money from dad when they grew up and ran their protection racket in the 1950s.”
Another customer over the years was EastEnders actress Patsi Palmer when she worked in a local dressmaker’s before she got into TV. Other names include comedians Micky Flanagan and Alfie Bass before they made the Big Time.
Kelly’s kept going through the Blitz serving up pie’n’mash.
But the business goes back to the original shop in 1915 opposite Paradise Row, further along Bethnal Green, with Grandmother Kelly using compensation money from Bob’s granddad after his accident driving a London tram.
Pearly kings and queens from all over London are heading for the pie shop for Saturday’s cockney bash when Kelly’s donates all the day’s takings to the Stairway to Heaven Memorial to Britain’s worst wartime civilian disaster.
The £400,000 memorial in Bethnal Green Gardens needs the last £20,000 to complete it, in memory of the 173 men, women and children crushed to death during a false air-raid alert in 1943, trying to get to ‘safety’ down the narrow, dim-lit staircase to the unfinished tube station being used as a public shelter.
Among the pie’n’mash diners on Saturday will be Alf Morris, now 85, a survivor of the tragedy who was 13 when an air-raid warden managed to pull him clear of the crush on the staircase. It was Alf’s campaigning in 2006 which led to the Memorial Trust being set up.
He popped into Kelly’s today for a quick pie’n’mash “just to check on the cockney fare” for Saturday, he says.
Bob is also hiring a man with a Joanna (piano) to play on the doorstep outside the shop, belting out right old cockney numbers including, of course, On Mother Kelly’s Doorstep. It’s only a pie throw from ther original Kelly’s by Paradise Row.