BILLY Hill was considered one of London’s most notorious criminals in the 20th century.
From his childhood to his death, here’s a look into the life of one of Britain’s most fearsome gangsters.
Who Was Billy Hill?
Billy Hill, also known as the “King of Soho”, was born on December 13, 1911 in London.
Growing up in an established crime family, Hill was no stranger to breaking the law.
Hill reportedly committed his first crime when he was just 14 years old.
He died on January 1, 1984 at the age of 72, leaving behind his only son Justin.
What was Billy Hill known for?
Billy Hill was known for his reputation as one of the most important gang leaders in London in the 1930s.
From the mid-1940s, Billy worked with notorious thug Jack “Spot” Comer, making huge profits from brothels, drinking clubs and arcades, and taking “protection money” from businesses across the capital.
In 1948, Hill found himself behind bars for his part in a £1.25million raid on a warehouse at London Airport (now Heathrow) that was intercepted by Scotland Yard’s Flying Squad.
He was later released in 1952 and soon fell right back into London’s criminal underworld.
That same year, Hill directed the famous 1952 Eastcastle Street robbery of £230,000 from a mail van just off Oxford Street – the equivalent of around £7.5million today.
During his life, Hill published an autobiography entitled Boss of Britain’s Underworld.
In the book, the gangster explains how he “grazed” his rivals with a blade of “chiv”.
He explained how he used force to carve a “V for victory” sign on his victims’ faces, but insisted that “carving” was only used as a last resort.
In 1956, Spot and his wife Rita were brutally attacked by Hill’s bodyguard “Mad” Frankie Fraser, causing him to leave the criminal underworld behind.
His rivalry with Spot, which lasted until the mid-1950s, was immortalized in a film entitled Once Upon A Time in London.
Did Billy Hill know the Kray Twins?
By the time the Kray Twins and Richardson’s became known in London, Billy Hill had made the decision to retire from the criminal underworld.
However, he did advise the Kray twins during their early criminal careers, with Reggie once citing Kray Hill as his role model.
He said: “When I was in my early 20s, the man I most wanted to emulate was former London crime lord Billy Hill.
“The main reason for my admiration was that, apart from being very physical and violent when necessary, Billy had a good, quick-thinking brain.”
What did Billy Hill’s son say?
Despite his notorious reputation, Billy’s son Justin described his mobster father as “funny, loving and generous.”
He told the Sun Online: “He was everything you wouldn’t expect from a man of his past. He was a loving father… he didn’t want to involve me in his past.”
However, Justin did see glimpses of Billy’s criminal past and his father’s darker side.
Justin said: “Once he called me into his room and gave me a bronze revolver. It was so heavy I almost dropped it. I sat on Dad’s bed and worked on how to open and rotate the barrel.
“I asked him where the bullets were and he held up a sock full of metal.
“I later learned that Billy often slept with a gun under his pillow.”
Justin also recalled how he once kicked Billy in the shin during a heated game of Snap, which caused his father to go into a rage.
He said: “He picked me up by the hair and shook me around like a rag doll… Billy dropped me and a clump of my curls landed on the carpet next to me.
“It taught me to be careful with him, even though we never spoke about it and he carried on like it never happened.”
Justin also shared that he was never tempted to follow in his father’s footsteps.
He explained: “I wouldn’t have been good at it. He was a hard man and I don’t condone what he did, but I was brought up not to break the law and I never did.”
He continued, “Billy and Gyp (his mom) were loving, they were fun… I was blessed to have parents like them. My only regret is that I didn’t get more time. I was nine and a half when Billy died.
“He was funny, loving, and generous…all the things you wouldn’t expect from a man of his past. And Gyp was the same. They wanted to lead me on the right path in life.
“Billy retired from the criminal world in the 1970s. It wasn’t until towards the end of Gyp’s life that she spoke about the past… but they never glorified her.
“He was a loving father.”
Britain’s most notorious gangsters and criminals
- The notorious prisoner Charlie Bronson
- The Kray Twins from London’s East End
- Ex-gangster Marvin Herbert
- Ex-armed robber Vic Dark
- Former gangland enforcer Brian Cockerill
- Notorious British criminal Carlton Leach
- Paul Sykes – Known as Britain’s toughest prisoner
- Kevin Lane – sentenced to life in prison for murder
- Convicted murderer Tony Argent
- Former drug smuggler Chet Sandhu
- The fearless British hardman Lee Duffy
- Career criminal Curtis Warren
- Gangster Charlie Richardson
- A-Team leader Terry Adams
https://www.the-sun.com/news/7431830/who-was-gangster-billy-hill/ Who was the gangster Billy Hill?