THE Great Train Robbery of 1963 remains one of the most daring and infamous robberies ever carried out in Britain.
It is estimated that the gang stole more than £2.6 million – the equivalent of around £50 million in today’s currency.
A plan was hatched to rob a Royal Mail train heading from Glasgow to London after a postal worker – nicknamed ‘Ulsterman’ – revealed details of a train journey carrying a large amount of cash.
Gordon Goody and Buster Edwards based the robbery on this information, bringing with them accomplices Bruce Reynolds, Ronnie Biggs, Charlie Wilson and Roy James.
The group later brought in members of the South Coast Raiders – a gang experienced in manipulating train signals to shut down locomotives.
The train came to a stop at a red signal outside Leighton Buzzard, Buckinghamshire, in the early hours of August 8th.
Jack Mills, the train driver, quickly realized something was wrong and got into an argument with one of the robbers. He overpowered him before being hit over the head with a club by another member of the gang.
Mills was then forced to drive the train along the route to a designated spot where the bags of money could be unloaded.
A total of 128 bags weighing 2.5 tonnes were lifted from the train and the gang had fled the scene within 30 minutes.
The gang then drove to a farm barn where they began to divide the money between themselves.
Most of the money was never recovered.
It is believed their loot was divided into shares worth £150,000, with smaller amounts for staff who played a smaller role in the raid.
The Ulster man was one of two conspirators who were never caught by police.
The identity of the man who hit Jack Mills could not be determined and the train driver never fully recovered from his injuries and died in 1970.
Throughout 1963 there were repeated arrests by the police, most recently in 1968 of Bruce Reynolds.
Eight of the robbers were sentenced to 30 years in prison and three others were sentenced to 25 years in prison.
While the gang consisted of 15 people in total, the main members were:
Reynolds was the leader of the notorious gang.
After the robbery, Reynolds hid in a London safe house for six months and then moved to Mexico with his family before settling in Canada.
After five years the family secretly returned to England and lived in Torquay, where Reynolds was arrested in 1986.
After his release in 1978, he had difficulty adjusting to a life without crime and was imprisoned again in 1980 for drug trafficking.
He lived on welfare before dying in his sleep in 2013 at the age of 81.
Goody was a deputy of the London South West gang and planned the robbery together with Reynolds.
Goody, who was 34 at the time, was caught and sentenced to 35 years in prison, but due to a change in the law he only served 12 years.
He revealed some details in a memoir which claimed that Patrick McKenna was the Ulsterman, although this is disputed.
Goody was released in 1975 and four years later moved to Spain, where he ran a bar.
He died in 2016.
Londoner Edwards was a career criminal and managed to escape the police after the robbery.
He and fellow gang member Reynolds took his family to Mexico, but his share of the loot, £150,000, was running out and Edwards’ family became homesick, so he negotiated his return to England in 1966.
Edwards was arrested and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
After being released early in 1975, he ran a flower stand outside Waterloo train station.
He died in 1963 after being found by his brother hanging from a steel beam in a lock-up garage in London.
Biggs was the most notorious of the Great Rain Raiders, having escaped from prison and eventually fleeing to Brazil.
He was brought in as part of the gang after meeting Reynolds behind bars.
Biggs was sentenced to 30 years in prison for the robbery in 1964.
A year later he escaped from Wandsworth Prison using a rope ladder
In Rio de Janeiro, Biggs became a minor celebrity and reveled in his celebrity as he thumbed his nose at the British authorities.
Biggs wanted to return to the UK and eventually flew back in 2001 on a flight organized by The Sun.
After his return he was imprisoned again.
Biggs was finally released in 2009 – two days before his 80th birthday, after a series of strokes.
He had served ten of his 30-year sentence.
Biggs died on December 18, 2013, aged 84, in a nursing home in north London.
Welch was the last surviving member of the gang and died in November 2023.
Arsenal fan Bobby owned a nightclub before the robbery.
Bobby was imprisoned for 30 years for his involvement in the robbery before being released from prison in 1976.
After his release he became a car dealer and gambler.
But a botched leg operation in hospital left him crippled, which later had to be amputated.
In his later life he avoided publicity and lived in quiet obscurity with his family.
Cordrey worked as a florist in Brighton.
He had become a compulsive gambler, which had led to him working as a thief.
When he was arrested in Bournemouth, Cordrey hid in his rectum the key to a car in which he hid his share of cash from the robbery.
At his trial he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years in prison, but was released in 1971.
He moved to the West Country and returned to the flower business.
South London hardman Wisbey, for his part, was sentenced to 30 years in prison – after refusing to pay a corrupt police officer £30,000 to dispose of evidence.
He later said: “The only thing I regret is getting caught. I wanted to keep going.”
He was released in 1976 after 12½ years in prison.
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In 1989 he was sentenced to ten years in prison for drug trafficking. But eventually he went straight ahead and ran a flower stand.
Arsenal fan Wisbey suffered a stroke at his care home in Eltham, south-east London, in December 2016, two days before Christmas.