The 1963 robbery which took place near where I live at Cheddington in Buckinghamshire has become known as “The Great Train Robbery” and was tried at Aylesbury Crown Court where the members of the gang received what were thought of as draconian sentences. None of them subsequently had happy lives but achieved further notoriety by escaping from prison, especially Ronnie Biggs who seemed to live a playboy life in Brazil openly laughing at British justice.
|The crime scene at Cheddington Buckinghamshire on
the West Coast Main Line
Ronnie Biggs was a low life bit player in a robbery which was bigged up by the media and the 30 year sentences given out convinced criminals that in future they might just as well use guns – at the time murder generally attracted a 15 year sentence. According to Biggs his main role was as a first hand witness to the Great Train Robbery as he actually did very little.
Biggs was part of the gang which escaped with £2.6m from the Glasgow to London mail train on 8 August 1963. Biggs, Reynolds, Ronald ‘Buster’ Edwards and the other gang members wore helmets and ski masks to carry out their crime, which took place near Cheddington, Buckinghamshire. He was given a 30-year sentence but escaped from Wandsworth prison in 1965. They made off with 120 bags of money totalling £2.6m – the equivalent of £40m in today’s money. Biggs share was £147,000 which he burned through within his first three years on the run.
In 2001, he returned to the UK from Brazil seeking medical help but was sent to prison. He was released on compassionate grounds in 2009 after contracting pneumonia. Train driver Jack Mills was struck over the head during the robbery and never worked again. He died in 1970. Three members of the gang, including the criminal who coshed Jack Mills were never caught or brought to justice.
|Biggs with his wife Charmain on Copacabana beach in Rio|
The thing which is forgotten about Biggs and the 60’s criminal underworld is that it only existed because of widespread police corruption. In some ways the crooks were more honest than the coppers, at least they weren’t pretending to be honest!
As for Biggs, he stayed true to his low life origins and did not deserve either the notoriety nor fame bestowed on him. Move along, nothing to see here.
|Wot a Geezer!|