Wednesday, 1 September 2010
Web Page 868
Top Picture: Griff’s Coffee Table, see the You Write section
Bottom Picture: The Great Train Robbery robbers.
The Great Train Robbery 1963
In the year that saw Kennedy assassinated, the birth of The Beatles, Martin Luther King deliver his ‘I have a dream’ speech and British politics rocked by the Perfumo affair it was going to take a big crime to steal the headlines.
At 6:50 p.m. on Wednesday 7 August 1963 the Travelling Post Office "Up Special" train left Glasgow en route to Euston. The train consisted of 12 carriages and carried 72 Post Office staff who sorted mail.The mail was loaded on the train at Glasgow and at stops en-route, as well as from line side collection points. The second carriage behind the engine was known as the HVP (High Value Package Coach) where registered mail was sorted and this contained valuables including large quantities of money, registered parcels and packages. 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 £2.6 million -- worth a little over £40 million in 2010.
At just after 3 a.m. driver Jack Mills stopped the train at a red signal at Ledburn, at 'Sears Crossing'. However, unknown to him, the signalling equipment had been tampered with by members of the 15 strong gang of robbers from London led by Bruce Reynolds and included Ronnie Biggs, Ronald ‘Buster’ Edwards, Gordon Goody, Jimmy Hussey, Roy James, Jimmy White, Charlie Wilson and Tommy Wisbey. The robbers had covered the green signal light and connected a six-volt battery to power the red signal light. The locomotive's second man, 26-year-old David Whitby climbed down from the cab to call the signalman from a signal-post telephone, only to find the cables had been cut. Upon returning to the train, he was thrown down the embankment of the railway track. The five postal workers in the HVP carriage were tied up and detained in a corner of the carriage.
The robbers now encountered a problem. They needed to move the train to a location where they could load their ex-army dropside truck with the money and had decided to do so at Bridego Bridge approximately half a mile further along the track. One of the robbers had spent months befriending railway staff and familiarising himself with the layout and operation, but it was decided instead to use an experienced train driver to move the train from the signals to the bridge after uncoupling the unnecessary carriages. However, the person they selected was unable to operate this type of locomotive as he only drove shunting locomotives. It was decided that the original driver Jack Mills should move the train to the stopping point near the bridge which was indicated by a white sheet stretched between poles on the track. Mills was initially reluctant to move the train so one of the gang struck him on the head.
At the bridge the robbers removed 124 sacks which they transferred from the HVP to the truck by forming a human chain. The gang left 30 minutes after the robbery had begun they then headed along back roads listening for police broadcasts on a VHF radio and arrived at Leatherslade Farm a run down farm 27 miles from the crime scene that they had bought two months earlier as their hideout. There they began counting the proceeds of the robbery. £2.6 million was stolen in used £1, £5 and £10 notes.
The robbers had cut all the telephone lines in the vicinity, but a trainman caught a slow train to Cheddington, which he reached at 4:30 a.m. to raise the alarm. At 5 a.m. the Buckinghamshire Police arrived at the crime scene where evidence wasgathered and statements taken from the driver and postal workers. One member of the gang had made the mistake of telling the postal staff not to move for half an hour and this suggested to the police that their hideout could not be more than 35 miles away.
The Postmaster General offered a £10,000 reward to "the first person giving information leading to the apprehension and conviction of the persons responsible for the robbery" and following a tip-off from a herdsman who used a field adjacent to Leatherslade Farm, a police sergeant and constable called there five days after the robbery. The farm was deserted but they found the truck used by the robbers which had been hastily painted yellow, the Land Rovers, a large quantity of food, bedding, sleeping bags, Post Office sacks, registered mail packages, bank note wrappers and fingerprints of the robbers.
The first gang member to be caught was Roger Cordrey and his friend, William Boal, who had helped him to conceal his share of the stolen money. They were lying low in a rented furnished flat above a florist shop in Wimborne Road, Moordown, Bournemouth. The CID were tipped off by police widow Ethel Clark, when Boal and Cordey paid rent for a garage, three months' up-front, all in used 10 shilling notes.Other arrests soon followed and thirteen of the gang members were caught and the rest is history.
Keep in touch
Peter has reminded me in his last piece of the woodworking and metalworking classes in the outer temporary buildings at Court Lane. Ken Wells metalworking class was a new class opportunity and if you recall correctly we had the choice of dropping woodwork and starting metalwork classes and as I remember quite a few of us did just that after 2 years with Mr Bennett. I have to say though that I do quite a bit of woodworking and carpentry in my renovation business and I don't know whether anyone else gets the same feeling but I can feel Mr Bennett sitting on my shoulder and watching me which is not a bad thing really I might add. Remember what he was always saying? Measure twice.....Cut once Boys! What Mr Bennett taught us still carries with me to this day.
The only boy I know who went on to become a fully employed carpenter, as far as I know, was John ( Patrick ) Wilson who lived on the Highbury Estate. I met him at the school reunion we held and he was still working as a carpenter in Portsmouth. If anyone knows where he is can they get in touch with me please.
I actually enjoyed metalwork more than woodwork and I still have my coffee table that we all built circa. 1961/62 and it is still used as well as a platform table for my 3 Granddaughter's Doll House because it is just the right height for them to play with the furniture. I have put up a photo of the coffeee table now 50 years old!.. amazing!
Didn't we all go on to make a model steam engine with Mr. Wells? I'm sure I finished mine but can't remember what happened to it......or did we run out of building time at the end of our 5th year at school?
I bet Melvyn Bridger still has his steam engine.....lol
Regards To Everyone.....Melvyn ( Griff ) Griffiths.
News and Views:
George David Weiss, who co-wrote the Elvis Presley standard, "Can't Help Falling In Love," Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World," Kay Starr's "Wheel Of Fortune" and adapted "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" from the South African tune "Wimoweh," died at his home in Oldwick, New Jersey. He was 89. George also was responsible for Broadway productions like "Mr. Wonderful" with Sammy Davis, Jr. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1984.
On this day 4th September 1960-1965.
On 04/09/1960 the number one single was Apache - The Shadows and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Rawhide (ITV) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 04/09/1960 the number one single was Apache - The Shadows and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Rawhide (ITV) and the box office smash was Psycho.
A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 04/09/1962 the number one single was I Remember You - Frank Ifield and the number one album was West Side Story Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 04/09/1963 the number one single was Bad to Me - Billy J Kramer and the number one album was Please Please Me - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 04/09/1964 the number one single was Have I the Right? - Honeycombs and the number one album was A Hard Day's Night - Beatles. The top rated TV show was No Hiding Place (AR) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 04/09/1965 the number one single was I Got You Babe - Sonny and Cher and the number one album was Help - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.