British Rail 1947 - 1997
|The Great Train Robbery (cont)|
|At just after 3am the train driver, Jack Mills, saw a red signal ahead at Sears Crossing. Unbeknown to him the signal had been tampered with. He stopped the train and, following railway procedure, his co-driver, David Whitoy, climbed down from the train to use the track side telephone to find out what the problem was but he found that all of the telephone cables had been cut! As he returned to the train he was attacked and thrown down the railway embankment. The Great Train Robbery had begun. At the same time the train driver found a man climbing into his engine, the driver was attacked, hit over the head and fell to the floor unconscious.
Outside the train other men involved in the robbery were uncoupling the rear carriages leaving only the engine and the two important carriages.
|A robbery couldn't take place at Sears Crossing because there was no way of unloading the train. The robbers had already decided to move the train forward to Bridego Bridge half a mile or so along the track. Unable to move the train themselves they dragged the injured co-driver back to the train and forced the driver to drive the train along until a white sheet marked the place to stop. This was Bridego Bridge No. 127 and here the rest of the Great Train Robbers were waiting with their vehicles.|
|Sears Crossing and the signal where the mail train was stopped.||Bridge No. 127 - Bridego Bridge - Half a mile or so from Sears Crossing|
|The driver and co-driver were tied up and the robbers forced their way into the HVP Coach where the frightened staff were pushed into a corner of the carriage. The robbers made a human chain and passed the sacks down the embankment and onto the waiting vehicles. Around 120 sacks weighing around 2 1/2 tons were stolen. The whole process of the robbery took under half an hour and the robbers got away with an amazing £2.6 million which today would be worth well in excess of £30 million.|
|As the robbers left the train they made, perhaps one of their biggest mistakes, they told the train crew and Post Office staff not to move for half an hour and warned them that they would be watched.|
|Police felt sure that the robbers hideout must be within a 30 minute radius of the crime scene and they called for local people to be vigilant.|
|Five days later police received a tip off from a herdsman in Oakley, Bucks about unusual comings and goings at an old farm that was up for sale. That was Leatherslade Farm.|
|Leatherslade Farm near Brill, Bucks. The train robbers hide-out.|
|A young constable, John Wooley, and his sergeant visited the farm. They found it abandoned, but full of obvious signs that a large group of people had been staying there: huge amounts of food and crockery in the kitchen, Sleeping bags and bedding in the upstairs rooms and in the cellar Post Office sacks full of bank note wrappers and registered mail packages.|