Eddie Richardson – Gangland Boss 

Eddie spent a total of 25 years in high security prisons

There was a very large audience present at the Pia Bella Hotel on Saturday 1st September to hear the talk to be given by Eddie Richardson a former gangland boss in the UK.   There was a quantity of Eddie’s book for sale “The Last Word – My Life as a Gangland Boss” which in fact all sold out and there was an opportunity to have these signed.

Mike Plant welcomed everyone to the talk, the proceeds of which were to be donated to the Friends of the TRNC Emergency Services (112) and thanked Martina Cole for her very generous donation of £10,000 to the charity which will be for equipment for Girne State Hospital.    Raffle tickets were being sold and these were to be drawn at the end of the talk, together with an auction of the paintings by Eddie Richardson which were on display.

The talk was to take the same format as a BRT interview the previous day and Denise Phillips was on hand to put questions to Eddie so that he could give an account of his former life of crime.

Eddie was born in Camberwell, London, his father was in the Merchant Navy for 22 years so he was away from home a great deal and Eddie was brought up mainly by his mother and grandmother.  He had 2 brothers, a younger brother who drowned in the River Thames at the age of 17, an older brother, Charlie, and 1 sister.  The family had a confectionery and newspaper shop so they were perhaps a little better off than most in the area.  Eddie left school at the age of 15 and started work as an apprentice draughtsman.  He later married and had 2 daughters who both did well, he said that he was probably a better father than husband.  One daughter became a pharmacist and the other joined the Royal Ballet School and travelled extensively as a successful ballerina.

It seems that Eddie in his earlier years was a very good businessman and not afraid to get his hands dirty, he owned a scrap metal business and a successful fruit machine business.   The audience wanted to know if he had proceeded with his legitimate businesses maybe he would not have ended up serving some 25 years in prison.

Mike Plant asked if Eddie had realised he had a talent for drawing and painting and Eddie replied that it was when he was in prison and joined an art class that he found, with some advice and help from the art teacher, that he realised how to look at things and this is when he was able to put this on canvas.  At one stage while he was in prison all of the work he was doing was being sent home and this was being sold so he was making money from it, Eddie said that when this was realised he was deprived of oils etc. and he went on to use acrylics. An exhibition of Eddie’s paintings was held at 5 Cavendish Square in London and from this he received £35,000 from the sale of his work.

At one time in his life Eddie owned 4 Clubs and had many celebrities performing in them, one being Lonnie Donegan.   Unfortunately for Eddie, a fight broke out in a colleague’s club and when Eddie and some of his friends went to help  there was some shooting, Eddie was shot in the leg and some of his friends also received gunshot wounds.  They were sent off to hospital and in those days no-one ever made a statement but they were charged with causing an affray and Eddie received a 5 year gaol sentence.  With a further incident with his brother Charlie of GBH he received an additional 10 years.   Eddie was 29 years old when he received his first prison sentence.  Eddie said that he split up from his brother in 1963 and they went their own separate ways.

At one period while in prison, Eddie was involved with a protest and the prisoners took over the Governor’s office, they found there was a telephone and the Daily Mirror was called and a story given which, as Eddie said, meant that the incident could not be “brushed under the carpet”.      On another occasion there was an attempted escape and of course Eddie was very involved with this.  The prisoners had been given materials to make 2 cabinets but they made them as such that they could be turned into a ladder.  The plan failed but Eddie said everything had been organised and there were 2 cars waiting on the outside.   If the plan had been successful Eddie had planned to hide out at a friend’s farm in Wales.  This escapade resulted in Eddie getting extra time.

Eddie spent his prison life at quite a few different prisons but he said of them all he preferred Parkhurst where it was like “party time”.    Eddie was obviously aware of the big gangland names of the time and knew the Kray twins both outside and in prison where their paths crossed from time to time.

Lord Longford visited Eddie in prison for many years and Eddie said he had a lot of respect for him.  There was a painting on display of Lord Longford and this was included in the auction later in the day.  There was also an occasion when he received a card from the Olympic Village in Mexico signed by the English boxing team.   

One question was did Eddie have any regrets and he replied that everyone has regrets but he now thinks more of tomorrow than yesterday and tries to think positive.   Another question was in respect of an incident probably involving protection where a person was in fact badly tortured, before Eddie could reply Martina Cole intervened and suggested that the questioner should do some research as this incident involved the Krays, not Eddie.

Eddie was asked to appear in a film “London Boulevard” which also starred Keira Knightley and Colin Farrell, initially he was offered £80 per day, he said “no thanks” and then this was increased to £200 per day but his appearance was usually from the side or back so it didn’t really look as if he was in the film at all.

With regard to his book, Eddie had a lot of help from Martina Cole who advised him on what should and should not be included and as a renowned author herself was able to give him the right guidance.

Eddie spent a total of 25 years in high security prisons and he has a lot of amusing stories to tell although  there must have been a lot of bad times as well but Eddie said he just got on with it.   He was a bad boy and got what he deserved but he served his time and has now made something of his life, realising he has a talent for painting and now, with the help of Martina Cole, another avenue in writing.   Eddie should be given some credit for now creating a new and respectable life for himself.

This was a very entertaining and enlightening talk and although the subject may not be to everyone’s taste these are things that happened.   Eddie said at the end of the talk that “most friends are still friends” and at funerals many choose the song My Way but what he would like is Have a Drink, Have a Drink, Have a Drink on Me.

By Margaret SHEARD