Tuesday, 6 August 2013

The Great Train Robbery

It was the most notorious and audacious robbery of 1963.
On the evening of Wednesday 7 August a GPO Royal Mail train left Glasgow with an unusually high value shipment because of the Scottish Bank Holiday-£2.6 million (equivalent to about £45 million today).
Around 3 am the train stopped at a red signal light in at a place known as 'Sears Crossing',  in Buckinghamshire. The signal had been tampered with by robbers, who boarded the train and met little resistance from GPO staff- there were no security guards or police on the train.
The gang had cut all the telephone lines in the vicinity, but one of the trainmen caught a slow train to Cheddington, which he reached at 4:30 a.m. to raise the alarm.
On the morning of Thursday 8 August, Britain awake to lurid headlines proclaiming Great Train Robbery. The gang were in the papers, infamous- but who were they?

During their getaway, the gang listened for police radio transmissions on a VHF radio, arriving at a farm they'd bought two months earlier for use as their hideout. There they counted the proceeds of the robbery and divided it into 17 full shares and several 'drinks' (smaller sums of money for associates). The gang learned that the police calculated they had gone to ground within a 30-mile radius of the attack scene so the plan to disperse was brought forward to Friday instead of Sunday.

It had been arranged to set fire to the farm but the associate tasked with it ran off with £10,000 and never did set the fire. Soon after, the gang learned that police had found the hide-out.
Now it was only a matter of time before they all were caught... surely...

A 2013 radio documentary about it here

and click on the arrow to the right for a 1999 Channel 4 TV documentary about it

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