TECHNOLOGY

How the infamous gangster Billy Hill turned from a young thief to a London underworld kingpin


Sitting in the Kew National Archives is a fascinating reference to Billy Hill – "The Boss of Britain & # 39; s Underworld", the only record of an East End gangster who used World War II to build a criminal empire.

The London mob boss was incredibly elusive for much of his criminal career and died old and wealthy after looking after two of Britain's best-known underworld figures.

Now the proverbial "King of Soho" has been brought back to life in the new film "Once Upon a Time in London".

Hill was born in 1911 to a poor Irish mother, but was soon to realize that his larger family was under the criminal brotherhood.

Gangster William & # 39; Billy & # 39; Hill (pictured on his return from Australia, where he was denied entry) became a teenage thief and became one of the greatest players in London's criminal underworld

Moscow Road in Bayswater, West London, where the gangster Billy Hill lived

Moscow Road in Bayswater, West London, where the gangster Billy Hill lived

He started his adult life as a burglar, but soon joined robberies and raids.

The chaos of World War II made him thrive, but the success of his activities caused dismay within the Scotland Yard.

Hill went on to look after the Kray twins Ronnie and Reggie, and eventually handed over his criminal empire to them when he moved abroad.

He established himself as a serious criminal figure during the war and benefited from the black market.

This included supplying counterfeit IDs to deserters and providing black products such as gasoline and groceries. He even moved in with his rival Jack & # 39; Spot & # 39; Comer to the West End.

Jack & # 39; Spot & # 39; Comer (pictured with his wife Rita Comer) was a Hill rival before they worked together. When Comer's thug lost power in the East End, Hill took advantage and usurped his rival

Jack & # 39; Spot & # 39; Comer (pictured with his wife Rita Comer) was a Hill rival before they worked together. When Comer's thug lost power in the East End, Hill took advantage and usurped his rival

He served his last sentence in the late 1940s, and when Spot died after a failed robbery at Heathrow Airport, Spot took control of much of London.

Instead of actively participating in criminal raids from now on, he would plan them and demand part of the proceeds.

In 1952 he initiated a post-van robbery that brought in £ 10m of modern money. This raid was later used as a template for the Great Train Robbery.

Hill is believed to have received information from a large number of Metropolitan Police officers who led Home Secretary Gwilym Lloyd George to authorize a wiretapping on his phone.

Eavesdropping on the phone resulted in Hill & # 39; s lawyer Patrick Marrinan being excluded after it emerged that he had interfered with the judiciary in a case of Hill & # 39; s employees

Eavesdropping on the phone resulted in Hill & # 39; s lawyer Patrick Marrinan being excluded after it emerged that he had interfered with the judiciary in a case of Hill & # 39; s employees

Ironically, the records did not result in law enforcement against Hill – but they were used to exclude his lawyer Patrick Marrinan after it was found that he had hindered the judicial process in a lawsuit against two of Hill's gangland employees.

Eavesdropping on the phone led to a national scandal – with issues raised in Parliament – including a scandal by Barbara Castle MP in July 1957, asking if the significant cost of the operation resulted in an increase in call charges.

The government refused to disclose the information, resulting in an angry response from the Labor MP.

Ms. Castle said to the house: "Isn't it a fact that the Post Office in London has opened a special room for listening in on telephones, in which tape recorders are installed at a considerable cost and in which postal engineers are involved? Maintenance of these dispensing services?

"So can't it be deduced that a significant part of the increase in telephone charges is due to the increase in wiretapping?"

Hill, a household name at the time, was known for his sense of clothing and his ruthless nature.

He was a fixture in the Soho scene and known as a bookmaker. Members of his gang not only controlled bookmaking on course, but also regularly tore down members of Lord Lucan's social circle at John Aspinall's Clermont Club in Mayfair.

After the city police phone calls, Hill felt the heat and withdrew from active involvement in robberies. He helped look after the emerging criminal gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray (pictured), and promised that if they built their empire, he would step down

After phone calls by the Metropolitan Police, Hill felt the heat and withdrew from active involvement in robberies. He helped look after the emerging criminal gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray (pictured), and promised that if they built their empire, he would step down

In the meantime, Hill had cultivated the aspiring Kray twins and helped them lay the foundations for their empire. At that point, he promised that he would resign.

After feeling the heat of the government and police in the wiretapping scandal, Hill stepped back and took his wife Gypsy to their home in Tangier, Morocco.

Reggie Kray would later say about Hill: "He is alone and there will never be a Billy Hill again."

Hill died in 1984 at the age of 72 after retiring on the French Riviera with his wife Gypsy. He left very little traces of his 50-year criminal career, except in an autobiography

Hill died in 1984 at the age of 72 after retiring on the French Riviera with his wife Gypsy. He left very little traces of his 50-year criminal career, except in an autobiography

He would also be among the first crime bosses to set up a base near Marbella, Spain, and eventually attracted so many British gang leaders that they were nicknamed the Costa Del Crime.

The two lived their lives on the Mediterranean coast. Gyp ran a nightclub in Tangier and mingled with people like Picasso, Diana Dors and Aristotle Onassis on the French Riviera.

But for Hill, one could say that his greatest achievement, which was not achieved by most gang leaders, was to die rich in 1984 at the age of 72. He left practically no trace of his career other than his autobiography.

Gyp eventually returned to the UK, refused all interviews, and died in 2004.

Once Upon a Time in London it was released in theaters on April 19

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