8 August 1963: the Great Train Robbery took place

The Great Train Robbery, arguably the most famous heist in British history, took place on this day in 1963. The robbers got away with £2.6m in cash.

The Great Train Robbery of 1963 was arguably the most famous heist in British history. Five career criminals, led by antiques dealer Bruce Reynolds, learned through a mysterious informant who has never been identified about the schedule of a Post Office mail train that regularly carried large sums of cash from Glasgow to London's Euston station.

After several months of planning, and the recruitment of accomplices, they carried out their plot in the early hours of 8 August.

The gang tampered with a railway signal, forcing the train to stop. They then took control of the train, assaulting the driver, who died a few years afterwards. After uncoupling the engine and the carriage containing the money, they drove the train to a prearranged meeting place and loaded the money onto a truck.

While some of the cash was overlooked, they got away with £2.6m in cash, equivalent to £56m in 2019's money.

The size of the theft and rumours that the crooks had inside help led to huge amounts of press coverage.The breakthrough came when the police discovered the gang's hideout, where they found a Monopoly board and ketchup bottle covered with fingerprints. Eleven gang members were arrested and convicted, with seven being given 30-year sentences, but in most cases these were eventually reduced to ten years or less.

The costs of legal fees, or life on the run, would ensure that most of them would end up penniless. Indeed, Ronnie Biggs returned to Britain in 2001 after escaping from jail in 1965 because he couldn't afford medical care in Brazil.

Recommended

The US Federal Reserve is about to rein in its money-printing – what does that mean for markets?
US Economy

The US Federal Reserve is about to rein in its money-printing – what does that mean for markets?

America’s central bank is talking surprisingly tough about tightening monetary policy. And it’s not the only one. John Stepek looks at what it all mea…
23 Sep 2021
The uranium price is soaring – here’s the best way to play it now
Energy

The uranium price is soaring – here’s the best way to play it now

Uranium, the key ingredient to nuclear power, has been ignored since the bubble of 2006, but now the uranium price is rising again. Dominic Frisby exp…
22 Sep 2021
I wish I knew what contagion was, but I’m too embarrassed to ask
Too embarrassed to ask

I wish I knew what contagion was, but I’m too embarrassed to ask

Most of us probably know what “contagion” is in a biological sense. But it also crops up in financial markets. Here's what it means.
21 Sep 2021
Why is the UK short of CO2 and what does it mean for you?
UK Economy

Why is the UK short of CO2 and what does it mean for you?

The UK is experiencing a carbon dioxide shortage that could lead to empty shelves in supermarkets. Saloni Sardana explains what’s going on and how it …
21 Sep 2021

Most Popular

The times may be changing, but don’t change how you invest
Small cap stocks

The times may be changing, but don’t change how you invest

We are living in strange times. But the basics of investing remain the same: buy fairly-priced stocks that can provide an income. And there are few be…
13 Sep 2021
Two shipping funds to buy for steady income
Investment trusts

Two shipping funds to buy for steady income

Returns from owning ships are volatile, but these two investment trusts are trying to make the sector less risky.
7 Sep 2021
How to stop recurring subscriptions becoming a drain on your money
Personal finance

How to stop recurring subscriptions becoming a drain on your money

Tracking and pruning subscriptions isn’t as easy as it sounds. Here's how to take charge.
14 Sep 2021