Mr Smith's was a nightclub and gambling casino in Catford, South East London. In the early hours of 8th March 1966 a gangland shootout and subsequent murder happened here, known commonly as the Shootout at Mr. Smith's.
Before World War II it was the Savoy Ballroom and in 1939 it was commandeered by the government for social services, providing food, drink and medicine to local school children. Situated at 75 Rushey Green in Catford, South London, it was once a dancehall, now in use as a furniture showroom, with the Right Now Jesus centre occupying the first floor. During the 1960s, it was a dancing and gaming club, first known as The Witchdoctor, then Mr. Smith’s where the Rolling Stones and Gene Vincent, played in 1964. It was a licensed club with facilities for dining, cabaret and gambling, the games offered being Blackjack, American dice and Roulette; it was licensed until 2.00 a.m. The club used fruit machines supplied by Atlantic Machines and as a result, even though there was not sufficient evidence for the police to make a criminal case of it, Mr. Smith’s effectively fell under the protection of the Richardsons.
It was reopened as a dancing and gaming club called The Witchdoctor and renamed Mr Smiths before long. Some great artists played here such as Georgie Fame, Billie Davis and Marmalade in the 1960's.
The building, still present is now an Enza Italian furniture store.
- Main article: Shootout at Mr Smith's
The events that make this location notorious are two-fold. In 1966, 75 Rushey Green was a gambling casino called Mr Smith’s which was owned by Manchester based businessmen, Dougie Flood (a hugely successful club/hotel/leisure business owner) and Bill Benny (an ex heavyweight 20 stone wrestler). Despite owning a string of clubs in the North of England the men did not know how to handle the clientèle that frequented Mr Smith’s. They needed help so they turned to gang leader William Billy Hill and his enforcer Albert Dimes for their advice. Billy put them in touch with Eddie Richardson and Frankie Fraser to protect the club in exchange for gaming machines being placed there.
On 7th of March 1966 a gangland battle took place inside the club, where Richard Hart was killed, leaving many others shot and injured, subsequently acting as a catalyst for George Cornell's death the following day.