Born on March 5, 1932, in Sheepcote Lane, in Battersea, London, Freddie Foreman is one of London’s last surviving old-school Gangsters.
Known as the “British Godfather of Crime”, Foreman was a close associate of the Kray Twins; Ronnie and Reggie, who relied on him, more than anyone else, during their reign over London in the 1960’s.
Known by numerous nicknames including The Undertaker, The Undertaker, Brown Bread Fred and the High Executioner, Freddie has lived an extraordinary life. Here are just a few facts on one of the capitals most feared and respected underworld icons.
During the Second World War Freddie was evacuated from London and was split up from his family. However, he was sent back to London before the Blitz began. He has said the experience of the war stayed with him for life and haunts him in memories to this day.
Freddie left school at 14 with little in the way of formal education. He felt that he might not be qualified to “go straight”.
He started his long criminal career with an enterprise stealing and selling expensive brand new electrical goods in bulk. He would sell them on at a third of their regular price to people who couldn’t otherwise afford them. He says this made him feel like a “regular Robin Hood”.
In the late 1960s Freddie was increasingly called upon by the infamous Kray Twins to undertake various duties. Freddie was known to be reliable and effective in his line of work.
He spent 10 years in prison for disposing of the body of Jack “The Hat” McVitie. Reggie Kray stabbed McVitie to death at a party in Stoke Newington. Reggie then ordered an associate of the Kray firm to drive across London to dump the body on Freddie’s manor in South London outside a church. Only a few streets away from Fred’s famous pub ‘The Prince Of Wales.’
Foreman confessed to the murder of Tommy “Ginger” Marks in the 1960s in revenge for the shooting of his brother in the groin. He had been acquitted of the murders at an Old Bailey trial in the 1960s. Tommy Marks’ body was never recovered.
It has been stated that Fred put into place the intimidation of witnesses to Ronnie Kray’s killing of rival London gangster George Cornell in the Blind Beggar pub in Whitechapel.
On 24th of May 1963, Freddie and a ‘firm’ wearing blue overalls walked into a Sharps Pixley & Co bullion brokers on Paul Street in the City of London during lunch hour and walked out with 40 bars of gold worth £200,000, which is around £4 million in today’s money.
Freddie once held a “Council of War” at the restaurant ‘Simpsons In The Strand’ with other top London gangsters. There it was decided the Krays would be “ironed out” as they were deemed to be out of control. If the Krays had not been arrested they might well have both been murdered.
In 1965, Freddie was involved in organising the infamous and successful escape of ‘Great Train Robber’ Ronnie Biggs and other gang members of ‘The Great Train Robbery’ from Wandsworth Prison. He also had his hand in their safe relocations at various countries overseas while they were on the run from the law.
In 1966, Freddie was allegedly involved in the death of Kray associate Frank “The Mad Axeman” Mitchell. Mitchell was lured into the back of a van and once the van doors were closed he was shot up to 12 times before he died after producing a loaded hand pistol of his own. Freddie revealed that his body was wrapped in chicken wire, weighed down and dumped in the English Channel.
In the early ’80s Freddie lived a straight life in America for two years. There, he set up a legitimate business – a games room with state of the art games machines. He was one of the first people to have a Pac-Man machine.
In 1983 Freddie was involved in the Shoreditch Security Express robbery. The Security Express HQ on Curtain Road, East London was known at “Fort Knox”. At the time, this was the largest ever cash robbery in the UK. The gang stole £7 million in untraceable banknotes. In today’s money that would equate to around £20 million.
After the Shoreditch robbery, Freddie moved with his family to southern Spain’s “Golden Mile”. There at Marbella on the Costa Del Sol, he bought a nightclub, a social club, and penthouse apartments to rent. Despite Spain’s non-extradition laws, Spanish police kidnapped him and put him on a flight to back to England at the tail-end of the ’80s. At Heathrow airport the British police were waiting for him and he was eventually sentenced to 9 years in prison for the handling of monies alleged from the security express robbery.
Freddie helped film star Tom Hardy perfect his performance of the Kray Twins in the 2015 film Legend. He noted that he helped particularly with facial expressions as the real Reggie often had a quizzical look on his face. He and Hardy still keep in touch with one another.
Freddie is father to Jamie Foreman, who starred in the British TV soap EastEnders and films, such as Layer Cake, Nil By Mouth, Gangster No.1.
He has spent a total of 16 years of his life in prison.
Fred is available on Digital Download 28th May & DVD 4th June
Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.