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View Full Version : Archived: THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY 8/8/63 - SITE REVISITED 26/8/10



Tankman
28-09-2010, 06:23 PM
The Task: to find something famous in your area? Find old photos, then go back and recreate 'said photos' as close as possible to the originals to see how things have changed:thumb

Local to me was the famous Great Train Robbery:thumb
A bit of history:

Late on Wednesday 7th August 1963 the "Up Special" train left Glasgow en-route for Euston. The train was a TPO (Travelling Post Office) and consisted of a number of carriages where Post Office staff sorted the mail and parcels en-route prior to its arrival in London. The second carriage from the front of the train was a HVP (High Value Package) where registered mail was sorted. Much of this consisted of cash. Usually the value of these items would have been in the region of 300,000 but, because there had been a Bank Holiday Weekend in Scotland the total on the day of the robbery was 2.3 million. (About 30 million today).

The train passed Leighton Buzzard at about 3am the following day and a minute or two later the Driver, Jack Mills saw a red signal ahead at a place called Sears Crossing. He did not realise that the red light was false, a glove had been stuffed onto the proper signal and the red light was activated by attaching it to a 6-volt battery.

When he stopped, his co-driver Dave Whitby climbed out of the cab in order to ring the signalman to ascertain the problem. He discovered that the cables from the line-side phone had been cut and as he turned to return to his train he was attacked and thrown down the steep railway embankment. At the same time a masked man climbed into the train cab and coshed the driver around the head rendering him unconscious. Meanwhile other robbers were uncoupling the rest of the carriages leaving on the engine and the first two carriages containing the high-value property.

The steep embankments at Sears crossing were unpractical for removing the loot from the train but the gang had done their homework and had planned to drive the train a mile further to Bridego Bridge.

(Bridge number 127) Here Land Rovers were waiting to convey the cash to a hideout a few miles away.
But it was now that the well-planned heist encountered the first problem. One of the gang had spent months befriending railway staff on the pretence of being a railway enthusiast. He had been allowed rides in the cabs of trains and had even been permitted to drive a few trains.

His part in the robbery was to drive the train onto the rendezvous point but as he climbed into the cab of the train he realised that this huge diesel train was far more complicated than the local trains he had previously travelled in. One of the gang members Ronnie BIGGS (it was his 34th birthday) had to rouse the driver to continue the journey.

In the front two carriages frightened post office staff were pushed to one end by some of the fifteen strong gang - but, in the remaining ten carriages (left at Sears Crossing) staff did not even realise anything had happened.

At Bridego Bridge a human chain of robbers removed 120 sacks containing 2 tons of money.
The rest is history:thumb

http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii38/tankman_2008/GREAT%20TRAIN%20ROBBERY%20-%20revisited/article-1181525-003D0D6A00000258-53_468x308.jpg

8 August 1963. The 'Up' TPO in the daylight! Still at the place where the Robbery took place hours before.

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26 August 2010, Bridego Bridge No.127 trees obscure part of the bridge where the mail bags were thrown down, but the telephone pole still survives, so that a good comparison can be found:thumb

http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii38/tankman_2008/GREAT%20TRAIN%20ROBBERY%20-%20revisited/Great_Train_244836a.jpg

Detectives from the 'Met' police arrived in the afternoon to take charge. The local 'Plod' did not have the resources available in such a rural area.

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The same site today



After the police had finished with the train it was moved on to Cheddington Station and shunted onto the old Aylesbury branch line platform, where further investigations were carried out.

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The train sits in Chedddington station. 8/8/63

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The same location today near as possible by the building on the right.


http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii38/tankman_2008/GREAT%20TRAIN%20ROBBERY%20-%20revisited/U1390498H.jpg
http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii38/tankman_2008/GREAT%20TRAIN%20ROBBERY%20-%20revisited/U1390498H.jpg


The robbed mail coach sits at Cheddington station, with a police guard. This photo was taken from the footbridge.

http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii38/tankman_2008/GREAT%20TRAIN%20ROBBERY%20-%20revisited/019.jpg

The same location today:thumb Taken from the footbridge the curve of the original platform has been cut back somewhat and is now fenced off:smile

Thanks for looking:thumb

More photos here:
http://s260.photobucket.com/albums/ii38/tankman_2008/GREAT%20TRAIN%20ROBBERY%20-%20revisited/?start=all

Tankman
29-09-2010, 01:33 AM
Thanks everyone glad you have enjoyed it:thumb
The train robbers! well everyone knows what happened to them:coffee
Here's a little bit more later history though on what happened to the train etc.

http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii38/tankman_2008/GREAT%20TRAIN%20ROBBERY%20-%20revisited/U1390498H.jpg

One of the mail coachs that was involved in the robbery still survives and is currently under restoration at the Nene Valley Railway.

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The Class 40 locomotive D326 (later 40126) had a jinxed life from the outset:thumbd On Boxing day 1962 it was hauling the up Midday Scot when it collided with the rear of a Liverpool to Brimingham express due to driver error, killing 18 passengers and injuring 33. Then came its involvement in the Great Train Robbery on 8 August 1963. In 1964 a secondman was electrocuted by the overhead wire while working outside the lcomotive. Finally, in 1965 it suffered total brake failure on the approach to Birmingham New Street. Luckily in this case, the train was diverted into another platform at the last minute by a quick thinking signalman, and smashed into the back of a freight train, injuring the guard.
Some crews refused to man the loco due to its jinxed reputation:thumbd

The locomotive was eventually withdrawn from service in February 1984 and offered to the National Railway Museum at York. They were not interested! so to deter souvenir hunters it was cut up within two months of it being withdrawn.

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One of the trucks that was involved in the robbery survived and was until recently at The Cae Dai Trust museum in Denbigh, Wales. This recently burnt down but the truck was rescued and survives still:thumb