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Monday 5 August 2013

‘The Great Train Robbery’ by Nick Russell-Pavier & Stewart Richards

Published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson,
10 January 2013.
ISBN: 978-0-2978-6439-4

In 1963 sixteen men robbed a mail train of over £2.5 million pounds – an inordinate amount of money at that time. The crime has captured the public imagination and there was much sympathy for gang. It was in the early hours of Thursday 8th August that this motley crew of criminals assembled and walked, or stumbled, into history.  The media immediately called it the ‘Crime of the Century.’ Myths and legends have grown up over the years and this book dispels most of them.

This well researched book sets out the real story in great detail.  Was there a ‘mastermind?’ Who were the five men who were never caught? Was the plan that good? In fact luck played a large part. The authors take us through the robbery in great detail, addressing the myths and legends that have grown up since the event. Most people I meet think that the train driver Jack Mills was shot, he was not. Mills sustained his worst head injury as he slipped. Biggsie wasn’t big; he played a very small part. Interestingly, the police never found any evidence to connect any of the men to the crime scene.

In fact the security on the train was, virtually non-existent - no bars on the windows or locks on the doors. Which begs the question, why did no one rob a mail train before? The book gives details of the trials, with twelve different appendixes giving lists of all the evidence and what happened to the people involved.

If you want to know everything there is to know about this crime I can definitely recommend this book. Was this the crime of the century? Make up your own mind.
Reviewer: Sue Lord

Nick Russell-Pavier & Stewart Richards

Nick Russell-Pavier is a writer, dramatist, TV and film composer and producer. He is regularly featured across the media as an authority on the Great Train Robbery. Recent appearances include the ITV 'Exposure' documentary after the 'Mrs Biggs' Drama serial last autumn; Talk Radio Europe; Nick was interviewed by Eddie Mair on Radio 4's PM programme; Radio 5 live and ITV news following the death of gang member Bruce Reynolds in February 2013. He is due to appear extensively in a cinema release documentary film later this year as well as in the next BBC2 series of Michael Portillo's 'Great British Railway Journey's'.

 Stewart Richards has worked extensively in the media as a film producer and television executive, as well as producing drama programmes for BBC Radio 4. He established the audiobook publisher (Mr Punch Audio). He is married, has four children and lives in Oxford.
Sue Lord originally studied Fine Art and Art History, her MA is in Creative Writing. She now, revues, teaches, mentors and script doctors. She lives in central London and Cornwall. Her favourite pastime is gardening.

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