This day in history: The Great Train Robbery, August 8th 1963
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Thread: This day in history: The Great Train Robbery, August 8th 1963

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  1. #1
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    Mar 2011

    This day in history: The Great Train Robbery, August 8th 1963

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    Criminal mastermind Bruce Reynolds spent one hour of his life executing the Great Train Robbery, and a whole lifetime trying to live it down.
    The Great Train Robbery took place 50 years ago this day, Thursday August 8th 1963, and rocketed the likes of Bruce Reynolds and Ronnie Biggs to worldwide notoriety.

    The story is frequently retold in some detail, especially on important anniversaries – and this year is of course a major one. If the gang were to celebrate today it’s likely to be a party of one. Ronnie Biggs still manages to cling onto life, but Bruce Reynolds passed away in February of this year, as was his habit, tactically retreating when more questions might be asked. All the other key players have slipped into anonymity or long since given up the ghost.

    The Train Robbery, which took place in the early hours of August 8th 1963, was conducted with split-second timing. The bulk of the stolen money - £2.6 million - was never recovered. Three robbers were never found, two convicted robbers escaped. One who was convicted was most likely never involved, and died in prison.

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    The Travelling Post Office train from Glasgow Central to Euston, pulling what was known as a High Value Package carriage containing registered mail and large quantities of money, was stopped at a red light at Sears Crossing near Leighton Buzzard, unaware that the signal had been tampered with.

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    Fifteen robbers then took control of the train, coshing the driver Jack Mills until he agreed to drive the train half a mile to Bridego (or Bridge 27) where they then relieved the Post Office of 118 mailbags containing the cash.

    Ironically, it was Ronnie Biggs, who only played a minor role in the actual robbery, who became the most famous of the gang, becoming a celebrity (even recording with the Sex Pistols in 1980!) as he was chased around the world by the constabulary until ill-health forced his return from Rio to a UK prison in 2001.

    Bruce Reynolds, the mastermind

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    The mastermind of the Great Train Robbery was Bruce Reynolds. What most people do not realise is that Bruce Reynolds was living a successful life of crime long before the Great Train Robbery, raiding country houses from the early fifties onwards, after walking out on a dull job as an accounting clerk in the Daily Mail’s offices.

    During the long stints when Bruce was not in jail, he was living a life of champagne and Savile Row suits, driving his Aston Martin down to the South of France, racing his friends along the near deserted highways at a time when you were likely to be stopped for not driving fast enough by the French gendarmerie.

    There the gang would spend the next two to three months living off the proceeds of the latest successful robbery, using ‘research and planning’ of the next job as the excuse for basically having a really good time. It was Bruce’s ambition to make his mark as a legendary criminal that led to the Great Train Robbery, and he has come to describe the world famous heist as a curse. Five years after the heist, in 1968, a broke Reynolds was captured in Torquay and sentenced to 25 years in jail. He was released on parole in 1978 and moved, alone and penniless, into a tiny flat off London's Edgware Road.

    In the 1980s he was jailed for three years for dealing amphetamines. Reynolds said he wanted to get rich but also to "make his mark" with a crime to go down in the history books. His memoirs, written in 1995, said the Great Train Robbery proved a curse which followed him around and no-one wanted to employ him, legally or illegally. "I became an old crook living on handouts from other old crooks," he said.

    50s and early 60s watch fashions

    The 50s and early early 60s was a great time for clean and elegant watches; it was long before the days of 45mm even 50mm high tech ceramics, PVD and fancy precious metal mammoths that adorn the wrists of today’s young tearaways.

    Most people who could afford it would opt for a quality gold watch, and Bruce would probably have had his pick of them thanks to his regular raids on the homes of the landed gentry.

    These beautiful timepieces from Vacheron Constantin, Patek Philippe, Rolex and Omega were typical of the era.

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    Gary123 and iceman66 like this.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    San Jose, California-USA

    Re: This day in history: The Great Train Robbery, August 8th 1963

    The VC and Patek started about 550 USD at that time.

  3. #3
    Moderator enricodepaoli's Avatar
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    Re: This day in history: The Great Train Robbery, August 8th 1963

    great post !
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  4. #4
    Member Watch OCD's Avatar
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    Dec 2012

    Re: This day in history: The Great Train Robbery, August 8th 1963

    Good read.....but i was hoping in the end he'd turn out to be a wis and we'll get to see his prized posessions
    Tag Heuer AquaRacer 500m Calibre 16
    Baume et Mercier Hampton Chrono
    Rolex Oyster Datejust S/S
    Seiko 5 SNZF29
    Alpina Extreme Avalanche - Manual
    Raymond Weil Parsifal

  5. #5
    Member paul@orbvalley's Avatar
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    Feb 2007
    Tarassac,southern France

    Re: This day in history: The Great Train Robbery, August 8th 1963

    When i was a young prison officer i met Tommy Wisbey and Charlie Wilson was the tea boy!!

  6. #6
    Member Brisman's Avatar
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    Mar 2011
    Brisbane, Australia

    Re: This day in history: The Great Train Robbery, August 8th 1963

    Great post, thanks.

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    May 2013

    Re: This day in history: The Great Train Robbery, August 8th 1963

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