Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Freddie Mills

I've been reading All the Devils are Here (2002) by the late David Seabrook, a kind of Iain Sinclair-at-the-seaside ramble round the underbelly of Kent, populated by deranged artists (Richard Dadd killing his father at Cobhham), unhappy writers (TS Eliot recovering from a breakdown in Margate), nazi sympathisers (including Arthur Tester in Broadstairs, and Audrey Hepburn's parents) and alcoholic actors cruising for trade (Charles Hawtrey in Deal).

He heads into Transpontine territory when he discusses the life and death of boxer Freddie Mills (1919-1965). Mills was the world light heavyweight boxing champion from 1948 to 1950 and went on to run a nightclub in Charing Cross Road after he retired. He also acted in a number of films. After he got married in 1948 he moved to 186 Denmark Hill in Camberwell (towards the Herne Hill end) where he remained until his mysterious death.

In July 1965 he was found shot dead in a car outside his nightclub. The verdict was suicide, but many believed that he had been murdered, or possibly driven to suicide by threats. His life and death continues to prompt speculation from crime writers - a 2004 book by James Morton suggests Mills had been threatened by the Kray twins, while there have even been claims that he was responsible for the Jack the Stripper serial killings.


Another angle is the claim that Mills was secretly bisexual, and that he may have been blackmailed. Seabrook's book includes an interview with a then Peckham-based man who claims to travelled to a flat in the Red Post Hill area for sex with Mills in the late 1940s.

Mills' grave is in Camberwell New Cemetery in Brenchley Gardens - there is more detail at Find a Grave, from where I sourced this photo.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

interesting story, as usual, Transpontine

Deptford Pudding said...

Wasn't he linked to Lood Boothby, as was Ronnie Kray? When I was alad Freddie Mills was a bit of a pin-up for the ladies including my mum.

Anonymous said...

As I'm a Bournemouth lad, Parkstone is not in Bournemouth but Poole. Anyhow, I now live 2 miles from Freddies last home in Camberwell London and mile from the cemetery where he's buried. He's not forgotten and now I will visit the grave to lay flowers. Respect. Rest in peace Freddie.