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Episode
41

The Great Train Robbery

First published on
April 3, 2020
History
-
16
minutes
True crime
Crime
South America

In 1963 a criminal gang managed to stop a Royal Mail train, steal £2 million pounds in cash (£55 million in today's money), and escape.

It took them just 15 minutes.

Today we tell the story of this infamous robbery, and the hunt to find the men who did it.

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Download transcript & key vocabulary pdf
Download transcript & key vocabulary pdfDownload transcript & key vocabulary pdf

Transcript

[00:00:04] Hello, hello, hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:11] The show where you can learn fascinating things about the world and listen to weird and wonderful stories at the same time as improving your English. 

[00:00:22] I'm Alastair Budge and today we are going to be talking about The Great Train Robbery

[00:00:30] In 1963, just outside London, a train carrying today's equivalent of 55 million pounds, 65 million dollars, was stopped. 

[00:00:43] A group of men got onto the train and 15 minutes later they had managed to escape with all of the money. 

[00:00:54] Today we are going to tell this story - the story of one of the greatest thefts in British criminal history.

[00:01:05] Before we do that, though, this is just my chance to remind those of you listening to this podcast on Spotify, iVoox, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts that you can get a copy of the transcript and key vocabulary for the podcast over on the website, which is Leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:01:28] If you haven't yet tried listening to the podcast with the transcript in front of you, well you are missing a trick, it means that you can follow every single word and improve your English way faster than you would do just by listening.

[00:01:45] And it also comes with the key vocabulary, which means that you can learn new words and expressions at the same time as listening to the podcast. 

[00:01:55] So go and check that out. 

[00:01:56] It's at Leonardoenglish.com

[00:02:02] Okay then let's talk about this fantastic crime. 

[00:02:08] At about three o'clock in the morning on the 8th of August, 1963 a Royal Mail train was on its way from Glasgow to London. 

[00:02:22] It was carrying about 2 million pounds in cash, that's about 55 million pounds in today's money. 

[00:02:31] It was carrying so much cash because there had just been a bank holiday, a public holiday, in Scotland.

[00:02:40] The cash it was carrying was a whole load of old bank notes, old money, and it was carrying this old money to London to be burned and taken out of circulation

[00:02:57] So, at three o'clock in the morning, the train slowed down as the driver saw a red signal telling the train to stop. 

[00:03:08] They stopped, but the signal was still red.

[00:03:12] So the driver got out of the train to investigate. 

[00:03:17] When he went to look at the light, he was grabbed from behind and a man said, in a harsh voice, 'if you make a sound, I'll kill you'. 

[00:03:29] They took him back to the train. 

[00:03:32] They tied up the other workers in the first two carriages of the train and then they detached the first two carriages, they separated the first two carriages of the train from the rest of the train. 

[00:03:48] And then the first two carriages were driven for a few miles further up the track

[00:03:56] What this meant was that the workers in the rear part of the train, the bit behind, they didn't have any idea that anything was wrong. 

[00:04:06] They thought they had just stopped because of a routine, a normal problem.

[00:04:13] When the train had moved a few miles up the track, the gang of robbers, they managed to get into the second carriage where all of the cash, all of the money, was being kept. 

[00:04:26] They overpowered the guards and got all the money out. 

[00:04:31] They threw the 120 bags full of cash down an embankment to their accomplices, their fellow robbers, who were waiting with cars nearby, the getaway drivers. 

[00:04:47] In a matter of 15 minutes, the thieves had escaped with over 2 million pounds, as I said, about 55 million pounds in today's money. 

[00:04:59] And this was all cash, right? It was all paper. 

[00:05:03] It weighed about two and a half tonnes. 

[00:05:07] So that's heavier than the average car. 

[00:05:10] That was how much money they stole.

[00:05:13] So it was pretty impressive to get all of that out of the train in under 15 minutes.

[00:05:21] The police were alerted as soon as the guards in the back section of the train realised that something was wrong. 

[00:05:30] And of course the police spent the next day on the hunt for the criminals. 

[00:05:36] But the gang was nowhere to be found. 

[00:05:40] The police tried everything.

[00:05:42] They spent all day asking around in the local houses and farms. 

[00:05:47] They sent a special robbery squad to the area - this was a team of people who were familiar with the criminal underground to see if they would have any luck. 

[00:06:00] They searched the houses of known criminals. 

[00:06:03] They questioned the girlfriends and known associates of some of the UK's most infamous criminals. 

[00:06:13] But still they had no luck.

[00:06:17] Five days after the robbery, though, on August the 13th they received a tip-off, a suggestion, from a local farmer that they should go and look into a place called Leatherslade farm, a farm which was about 20 miles or 30 kilometres, from the scene of the crime. 

[00:06:41] The farmer said that he had seen lots of people coming and going, there had been an increase in activity, and it was definitely abnormal

[00:06:53] So he said to the police, you should go and have a look at it. 

[00:06:56] When they arrived at the property, they found it deserted

[00:07:01] But they knew pretty soon that they were onto something

[00:07:07] They saw 20 of the Royal Mail bags, with no money inside of course, and they also found the getaway vehicles, the cars used for the robbery.

[00:07:21] But the thieves had been pretty careful. 

[00:07:24] They had wiped everything down, they had cleaned the property, to avoid leaving any fingerprints or things that would be clues for the police. 

[00:07:37] However, the police found a game of Monopoly , alongside real money. 

[00:07:44] The men had so much cash that instead of playing with Monopoly money, with the fake money, they just played with real money.

[00:07:54] I mean, they had two tonnes of it, so why not? 

[00:08:00] Anyway, while playing Monopoly was no doubt good fun, it wasn't a good idea because on one of the Monopoly pieces, on the game pieces, the police found fingerprints which helped identify some of the men. 

[00:08:18] A week later, they managed to track down and arrest one member of the gang and within the next two weeks, thanks to tip-offs, thanks to people telling the police about the identity of some of the others, they had managed to start tracking the rest of the gang

[00:08:40] They'd managed to identify a lot of the men and they'd managed to locate some of them. 

[00:08:46] The police discovered that the gang consisted of a total of 17 people, 15 of whom were actually physically present at the robbery

[00:08:58] So who were these men? 

[00:09:00] What did they all do? 

[00:09:02] Well, it really was a bit of a mix, a motley crew, and they all played a slightly different role. 

[00:09:11] There were the big guys, the guys who were there to threaten the drivers, to be the muscle

[00:09:18] There were the getaway drivers, the men who were waiting in the cars.

[00:09:24] Then there were those responsible for things like dividing up the money and for buying the farm. 

[00:09:34] We know who they all are now apart from one person, and that man was the man inside, the person with the inside knowledge of the Royal Mail

[00:09:48] The person who knew exactly when and where the train would be, the person who knew where the money would be and who told the gang how to actually get away with the attack.

[00:10:02] The true identity of that man, although there are some theories, the true identity has never been revealed. 

[00:10:12] And now that all of the men who took part in the robbery are no longer around, they've allpassed away, his identity will never be revealed. 

[00:10:24] But the rest of the men were captured, they were arrested by the police. 

[00:10:30] This didn't happen at the same time, and it wasn't until April of the next year that they were actually sentenced, that they were sent to prison. 

[00:10:42] But the storymost certainly does not end there.

[00:10:48] Several of the men escaped from prison, running away to places like Belgium, France, Canada, Australia, and Brazil. 

[00:11:00] The most famous escapee, the most famous of the men who managed to escape, was called Ronnie Biggs. 

[00:11:09] He was only 32 when he was caught and he was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

[00:11:17] But after 15 months in prison, he managed to escape, climbing over the prison walls of a maximum security prison in London. 

[00:11:30] He fled, he ran away, first to Brussels and then to Paris where he had plastic surgery to change his appearance, for obvious reasons. 

[00:11:42] He then fled to the other side of the world, to Australia, and when the police got close to him there, he fled on a passenger ship with a fake passport to Panama and then to Brazil. 

[00:11:59] In Brazil, he was safe, comparatively speaking, as Brazil didn't have an extradition treaty with the UK. 

[00:12:08] This meant that the Brazilian government didn't have to deport him, to send him back to the UK, to be tried

[00:12:17] So he lived pretty openly in Brazil for almost 30 years. 

[00:12:23] He couldn't work though, given his status as a known criminal.

[00:12:29] So he used to host barbecues at his house. 

[00:12:34] Tourists could pay to go and have a barbecue with one of the most famous robbers of all time.  

[00:12:43] However, the story doesn't end particularly happily with Caipirinhas on the beach for Ronnie Biggs. 

[00:12:53] His health deteriorated, it got worse, and he longed to return to the UK.

[00:13:01] And in 2001 he did return, but he was immediately arrested. 

[00:13:08] Even though he was in his seventies he had committed a pretty serious crime, and he still had 28 years to serve of his sentence. 

[00:13:20] So he was put back in prison, and he served another eight years. 

[00:13:26] In 2009 he was released from prison on what's called 'compassionate grounds', basically he was very ill. 

[00:13:36] And he died four years later in 2013. 

[00:13:40] I should add that although this crime has gone down in history and has been romanticised quite a lot, including I guess what we're doing here on this podcast, it was obviously a pretty serious crime and not completely victim-free. 

[00:14:01] During the robbery, one of the guards of the train, a man called Jack Mills, was hit over the head with an iron bar.

[00:14:12] Although he wasn't killed, he suffered severe brain damage and never properly recovered from his injuries. 

[00:14:21] So it was definitely not victimless, the crime. 

[00:14:26] And it obviously was a pretty serious crime. 

[00:14:29] It was the biggest cash robbery, the biggest theft of physical money in Britain for 40 years, until it was eclipsed by a robbery in Northern Ireland in 2004. 

[00:14:44] In any case, The Great Train Robbery has gone down in history, and you will find references to it throughout British pop culture, from Beatles lyrics to Agatha Christie, from Inspector Clouseau to James Bond, it's everywhere and it has had an impact on British culture like no other crime, I guess. 

[00:15:13] Not just because it's a huge robbery, but it's also a story of escapes from prison, a global manhunt, and then the ultimately sad end for many of the robbers.

[00:15:27] Okay then, that is it for today's episode. 

[00:15:32] I hope you've enjoyed it and I certainly hope that it hasn't inspired you to start robbing trains.

[00:15:39] As I said, the story doesn't end well. 

[00:15:42] As a quick reminder, if you are looking for the transcript and key vocabulary for the podcast, you can find that at leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:15:53] It is a really useful resource for following along and improving your English at the same time as listening to the podcast. 

[00:16:00] So I definitely recommend going and checking that out if you haven't done so already.

[00:16:07] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds by Leonardo English. 

[00:16:12] I'm Alastair Budge. 

[00:16:14] You stay safe and I'll catch you in the next episode.

[END OF PODCAST]


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[00:00:04] Hello, hello, hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:11] The show where you can learn fascinating things about the world and listen to weird and wonderful stories at the same time as improving your English. 

[00:00:22] I'm Alastair Budge and today we are going to be talking about The Great Train Robbery

[00:00:30] In 1963, just outside London, a train carrying today's equivalent of 55 million pounds, 65 million dollars, was stopped. 

[00:00:43] A group of men got onto the train and 15 minutes later they had managed to escape with all of the money. 

[00:00:54] Today we are going to tell this story - the story of one of the greatest thefts in British criminal history.

[00:01:05] Before we do that, though, this is just my chance to remind those of you listening to this podcast on Spotify, iVoox, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts that you can get a copy of the transcript and key vocabulary for the podcast over on the website, which is Leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:01:28] If you haven't yet tried listening to the podcast with the transcript in front of you, well you are missing a trick, it means that you can follow every single word and improve your English way faster than you would do just by listening.

[00:01:45] And it also comes with the key vocabulary, which means that you can learn new words and expressions at the same time as listening to the podcast. 

[00:01:55] So go and check that out. 

[00:01:56] It's at Leonardoenglish.com

[00:02:02] Okay then let's talk about this fantastic crime. 

[00:02:08] At about three o'clock in the morning on the 8th of August, 1963 a Royal Mail train was on its way from Glasgow to London. 

[00:02:22] It was carrying about 2 million pounds in cash, that's about 55 million pounds in today's money. 

[00:02:31] It was carrying so much cash because there had just been a bank holiday, a public holiday, in Scotland.

[00:02:40] The cash it was carrying was a whole load of old bank notes, old money, and it was carrying this old money to London to be burned and taken out of circulation

[00:02:57] So, at three o'clock in the morning, the train slowed down as the driver saw a red signal telling the train to stop. 

[00:03:08] They stopped, but the signal was still red.

[00:03:12] So the driver got out of the train to investigate. 

[00:03:17] When he went to look at the light, he was grabbed from behind and a man said, in a harsh voice, 'if you make a sound, I'll kill you'. 

[00:03:29] They took him back to the train. 

[00:03:32] They tied up the other workers in the first two carriages of the train and then they detached the first two carriages, they separated the first two carriages of the train from the rest of the train. 

[00:03:48] And then the first two carriages were driven for a few miles further up the track

[00:03:56] What this meant was that the workers in the rear part of the train, the bit behind, they didn't have any idea that anything was wrong. 

[00:04:06] They thought they had just stopped because of a routine, a normal problem.

[00:04:13] When the train had moved a few miles up the track, the gang of robbers, they managed to get into the second carriage where all of the cash, all of the money, was being kept. 

[00:04:26] They overpowered the guards and got all the money out. 

[00:04:31] They threw the 120 bags full of cash down an embankment to their accomplices, their fellow robbers, who were waiting with cars nearby, the getaway drivers. 

[00:04:47] In a matter of 15 minutes, the thieves had escaped with over 2 million pounds, as I said, about 55 million pounds in today's money. 

[00:04:59] And this was all cash, right? It was all paper. 

[00:05:03] It weighed about two and a half tonnes. 

[00:05:07] So that's heavier than the average car. 

[00:05:10] That was how much money they stole.

[00:05:13] So it was pretty impressive to get all of that out of the train in under 15 minutes.

[00:05:21] The police were alerted as soon as the guards in the back section of the train realised that something was wrong. 

[00:05:30] And of course the police spent the next day on the hunt for the criminals. 

[00:05:36] But the gang was nowhere to be found. 

[00:05:40] The police tried everything.

[00:05:42] They spent all day asking around in the local houses and farms. 

[00:05:47] They sent a special robbery squad to the area - this was a team of people who were familiar with the criminal underground to see if they would have any luck. 

[00:06:00] They searched the houses of known criminals. 

[00:06:03] They questioned the girlfriends and known associates of some of the UK's most infamous criminals. 

[00:06:13] But still they had no luck.

[00:06:17] Five days after the robbery, though, on August the 13th they received a tip-off, a suggestion, from a local farmer that they should go and look into a place called Leatherslade farm, a farm which was about 20 miles or 30 kilometres, from the scene of the crime. 

[00:06:41] The farmer said that he had seen lots of people coming and going, there had been an increase in activity, and it was definitely abnormal

[00:06:53] So he said to the police, you should go and have a look at it. 

[00:06:56] When they arrived at the property, they found it deserted

[00:07:01] But they knew pretty soon that they were onto something

[00:07:07] They saw 20 of the Royal Mail bags, with no money inside of course, and they also found the getaway vehicles, the cars used for the robbery.

[00:07:21] But the thieves had been pretty careful. 

[00:07:24] They had wiped everything down, they had cleaned the property, to avoid leaving any fingerprints or things that would be clues for the police. 

[00:07:37] However, the police found a game of Monopoly , alongside real money. 

[00:07:44] The men had so much cash that instead of playing with Monopoly money, with the fake money, they just played with real money.

[00:07:54] I mean, they had two tonnes of it, so why not? 

[00:08:00] Anyway, while playing Monopoly was no doubt good fun, it wasn't a good idea because on one of the Monopoly pieces, on the game pieces, the police found fingerprints which helped identify some of the men. 

[00:08:18] A week later, they managed to track down and arrest one member of the gang and within the next two weeks, thanks to tip-offs, thanks to people telling the police about the identity of some of the others, they had managed to start tracking the rest of the gang

[00:08:40] They'd managed to identify a lot of the men and they'd managed to locate some of them. 

[00:08:46] The police discovered that the gang consisted of a total of 17 people, 15 of whom were actually physically present at the robbery

[00:08:58] So who were these men? 

[00:09:00] What did they all do? 

[00:09:02] Well, it really was a bit of a mix, a motley crew, and they all played a slightly different role. 

[00:09:11] There were the big guys, the guys who were there to threaten the drivers, to be the muscle

[00:09:18] There were the getaway drivers, the men who were waiting in the cars.

[00:09:24] Then there were those responsible for things like dividing up the money and for buying the farm. 

[00:09:34] We know who they all are now apart from one person, and that man was the man inside, the person with the inside knowledge of the Royal Mail

[00:09:48] The person who knew exactly when and where the train would be, the person who knew where the money would be and who told the gang how to actually get away with the attack.

[00:10:02] The true identity of that man, although there are some theories, the true identity has never been revealed. 

[00:10:12] And now that all of the men who took part in the robbery are no longer around, they've allpassed away, his identity will never be revealed. 

[00:10:24] But the rest of the men were captured, they were arrested by the police. 

[00:10:30] This didn't happen at the same time, and it wasn't until April of the next year that they were actually sentenced, that they were sent to prison. 

[00:10:42] But the storymost certainly does not end there.

[00:10:48] Several of the men escaped from prison, running away to places like Belgium, France, Canada, Australia, and Brazil. 

[00:11:00] The most famous escapee, the most famous of the men who managed to escape, was called Ronnie Biggs. 

[00:11:09] He was only 32 when he was caught and he was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

[00:11:17] But after 15 months in prison, he managed to escape, climbing over the prison walls of a maximum security prison in London. 

[00:11:30] He fled, he ran away, first to Brussels and then to Paris where he had plastic surgery to change his appearance, for obvious reasons. 

[00:11:42] He then fled to the other side of the world, to Australia, and when the police got close to him there, he fled on a passenger ship with a fake passport to Panama and then to Brazil. 

[00:11:59] In Brazil, he was safe, comparatively speaking, as Brazil didn't have an extradition treaty with the UK. 

[00:12:08] This meant that the Brazilian government didn't have to deport him, to send him back to the UK, to be tried

[00:12:17] So he lived pretty openly in Brazil for almost 30 years. 

[00:12:23] He couldn't work though, given his status as a known criminal.

[00:12:29] So he used to host barbecues at his house. 

[00:12:34] Tourists could pay to go and have a barbecue with one of the most famous robbers of all time.  

[00:12:43] However, the story doesn't end particularly happily with Caipirinhas on the beach for Ronnie Biggs. 

[00:12:53] His health deteriorated, it got worse, and he longed to return to the UK.

[00:13:01] And in 2001 he did return, but he was immediately arrested. 

[00:13:08] Even though he was in his seventies he had committed a pretty serious crime, and he still had 28 years to serve of his sentence. 

[00:13:20] So he was put back in prison, and he served another eight years. 

[00:13:26] In 2009 he was released from prison on what's called 'compassionate grounds', basically he was very ill. 

[00:13:36] And he died four years later in 2013. 

[00:13:40] I should add that although this crime has gone down in history and has been romanticised quite a lot, including I guess what we're doing here on this podcast, it was obviously a pretty serious crime and not completely victim-free. 

[00:14:01] During the robbery, one of the guards of the train, a man called Jack Mills, was hit over the head with an iron bar.

[00:14:12] Although he wasn't killed, he suffered severe brain damage and never properly recovered from his injuries. 

[00:14:21] So it was definitely not victimless, the crime. 

[00:14:26] And it obviously was a pretty serious crime. 

[00:14:29] It was the biggest cash robbery, the biggest theft of physical money in Britain for 40 years, until it was eclipsed by a robbery in Northern Ireland in 2004. 

[00:14:44] In any case, The Great Train Robbery has gone down in history, and you will find references to it throughout British pop culture, from Beatles lyrics to Agatha Christie, from Inspector Clouseau to James Bond, it's everywhere and it has had an impact on British culture like no other crime, I guess. 

[00:15:13] Not just because it's a huge robbery, but it's also a story of escapes from prison, a global manhunt, and then the ultimately sad end for many of the robbers.

[00:15:27] Okay then, that is it for today's episode. 

[00:15:32] I hope you've enjoyed it and I certainly hope that it hasn't inspired you to start robbing trains.

[00:15:39] As I said, the story doesn't end well. 

[00:15:42] As a quick reminder, if you are looking for the transcript and key vocabulary for the podcast, you can find that at leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:15:53] It is a really useful resource for following along and improving your English at the same time as listening to the podcast. 

[00:16:00] So I definitely recommend going and checking that out if you haven't done so already.

[00:16:07] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds by Leonardo English. 

[00:16:12] I'm Alastair Budge. 

[00:16:14] You stay safe and I'll catch you in the next episode.

[END OF PODCAST]


[00:00:04] Hello, hello, hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:11] The show where you can learn fascinating things about the world and listen to weird and wonderful stories at the same time as improving your English. 

[00:00:22] I'm Alastair Budge and today we are going to be talking about The Great Train Robbery

[00:00:30] In 1963, just outside London, a train carrying today's equivalent of 55 million pounds, 65 million dollars, was stopped. 

[00:00:43] A group of men got onto the train and 15 minutes later they had managed to escape with all of the money. 

[00:00:54] Today we are going to tell this story - the story of one of the greatest thefts in British criminal history.

[00:01:05] Before we do that, though, this is just my chance to remind those of you listening to this podcast on Spotify, iVoox, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts that you can get a copy of the transcript and key vocabulary for the podcast over on the website, which is Leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:01:28] If you haven't yet tried listening to the podcast with the transcript in front of you, well you are missing a trick, it means that you can follow every single word and improve your English way faster than you would do just by listening.

[00:01:45] And it also comes with the key vocabulary, which means that you can learn new words and expressions at the same time as listening to the podcast. 

[00:01:55] So go and check that out. 

[00:01:56] It's at Leonardoenglish.com

[00:02:02] Okay then let's talk about this fantastic crime. 

[00:02:08] At about three o'clock in the morning on the 8th of August, 1963 a Royal Mail train was on its way from Glasgow to London. 

[00:02:22] It was carrying about 2 million pounds in cash, that's about 55 million pounds in today's money. 

[00:02:31] It was carrying so much cash because there had just been a bank holiday, a public holiday, in Scotland.

[00:02:40] The cash it was carrying was a whole load of old bank notes, old money, and it was carrying this old money to London to be burned and taken out of circulation

[00:02:57] So, at three o'clock in the morning, the train slowed down as the driver saw a red signal telling the train to stop. 

[00:03:08] They stopped, but the signal was still red.

[00:03:12] So the driver got out of the train to investigate. 

[00:03:17] When he went to look at the light, he was grabbed from behind and a man said, in a harsh voice, 'if you make a sound, I'll kill you'. 

[00:03:29] They took him back to the train. 

[00:03:32] They tied up the other workers in the first two carriages of the train and then they detached the first two carriages, they separated the first two carriages of the train from the rest of the train. 

[00:03:48] And then the first two carriages were driven for a few miles further up the track

[00:03:56] What this meant was that the workers in the rear part of the train, the bit behind, they didn't have any idea that anything was wrong. 

[00:04:06] They thought they had just stopped because of a routine, a normal problem.

[00:04:13] When the train had moved a few miles up the track, the gang of robbers, they managed to get into the second carriage where all of the cash, all of the money, was being kept. 

[00:04:26] They overpowered the guards and got all the money out. 

[00:04:31] They threw the 120 bags full of cash down an embankment to their accomplices, their fellow robbers, who were waiting with cars nearby, the getaway drivers. 

[00:04:47] In a matter of 15 minutes, the thieves had escaped with over 2 million pounds, as I said, about 55 million pounds in today's money. 

[00:04:59] And this was all cash, right? It was all paper. 

[00:05:03] It weighed about two and a half tonnes. 

[00:05:07] So that's heavier than the average car. 

[00:05:10] That was how much money they stole.

[00:05:13] So it was pretty impressive to get all of that out of the train in under 15 minutes.

[00:05:21] The police were alerted as soon as the guards in the back section of the train realised that something was wrong. 

[00:05:30] And of course the police spent the next day on the hunt for the criminals. 

[00:05:36] But the gang was nowhere to be found. 

[00:05:40] The police tried everything.

[00:05:42] They spent all day asking around in the local houses and farms. 

[00:05:47] They sent a special robbery squad to the area - this was a team of people who were familiar with the criminal underground to see if they would have any luck. 

[00:06:00] They searched the houses of known criminals. 

[00:06:03] They questioned the girlfriends and known associates of some of the UK's most infamous criminals. 

[00:06:13] But still they had no luck.

[00:06:17] Five days after the robbery, though, on August the 13th they received a tip-off, a suggestion, from a local farmer that they should go and look into a place called Leatherslade farm, a farm which was about 20 miles or 30 kilometres, from the scene of the crime. 

[00:06:41] The farmer said that he had seen lots of people coming and going, there had been an increase in activity, and it was definitely abnormal

[00:06:53] So he said to the police, you should go and have a look at it. 

[00:06:56] When they arrived at the property, they found it deserted

[00:07:01] But they knew pretty soon that they were onto something

[00:07:07] They saw 20 of the Royal Mail bags, with no money inside of course, and they also found the getaway vehicles, the cars used for the robbery.

[00:07:21] But the thieves had been pretty careful. 

[00:07:24] They had wiped everything down, they had cleaned the property, to avoid leaving any fingerprints or things that would be clues for the police. 

[00:07:37] However, the police found a game of Monopoly , alongside real money. 

[00:07:44] The men had so much cash that instead of playing with Monopoly money, with the fake money, they just played with real money.

[00:07:54] I mean, they had two tonnes of it, so why not? 

[00:08:00] Anyway, while playing Monopoly was no doubt good fun, it wasn't a good idea because on one of the Monopoly pieces, on the game pieces, the police found fingerprints which helped identify some of the men. 

[00:08:18] A week later, they managed to track down and arrest one member of the gang and within the next two weeks, thanks to tip-offs, thanks to people telling the police about the identity of some of the others, they had managed to start tracking the rest of the gang

[00:08:40] They'd managed to identify a lot of the men and they'd managed to locate some of them. 

[00:08:46] The police discovered that the gang consisted of a total of 17 people, 15 of whom were actually physically present at the robbery

[00:08:58] So who were these men? 

[00:09:00] What did they all do? 

[00:09:02] Well, it really was a bit of a mix, a motley crew, and they all played a slightly different role. 

[00:09:11] There were the big guys, the guys who were there to threaten the drivers, to be the muscle

[00:09:18] There were the getaway drivers, the men who were waiting in the cars.

[00:09:24] Then there were those responsible for things like dividing up the money and for buying the farm. 

[00:09:34] We know who they all are now apart from one person, and that man was the man inside, the person with the inside knowledge of the Royal Mail

[00:09:48] The person who knew exactly when and where the train would be, the person who knew where the money would be and who told the gang how to actually get away with the attack.

[00:10:02] The true identity of that man, although there are some theories, the true identity has never been revealed. 

[00:10:12] And now that all of the men who took part in the robbery are no longer around, they've allpassed away, his identity will never be revealed. 

[00:10:24] But the rest of the men were captured, they were arrested by the police. 

[00:10:30] This didn't happen at the same time, and it wasn't until April of the next year that they were actually sentenced, that they were sent to prison. 

[00:10:42] But the storymost certainly does not end there.

[00:10:48] Several of the men escaped from prison, running away to places like Belgium, France, Canada, Australia, and Brazil. 

[00:11:00] The most famous escapee, the most famous of the men who managed to escape, was called Ronnie Biggs. 

[00:11:09] He was only 32 when he was caught and he was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

[00:11:17] But after 15 months in prison, he managed to escape, climbing over the prison walls of a maximum security prison in London. 

[00:11:30] He fled, he ran away, first to Brussels and then to Paris where he had plastic surgery to change his appearance, for obvious reasons. 

[00:11:42] He then fled to the other side of the world, to Australia, and when the police got close to him there, he fled on a passenger ship with a fake passport to Panama and then to Brazil. 

[00:11:59] In Brazil, he was safe, comparatively speaking, as Brazil didn't have an extradition treaty with the UK. 

[00:12:08] This meant that the Brazilian government didn't have to deport him, to send him back to the UK, to be tried

[00:12:17] So he lived pretty openly in Brazil for almost 30 years. 

[00:12:23] He couldn't work though, given his status as a known criminal.

[00:12:29] So he used to host barbecues at his house. 

[00:12:34] Tourists could pay to go and have a barbecue with one of the most famous robbers of all time.  

[00:12:43] However, the story doesn't end particularly happily with Caipirinhas on the beach for Ronnie Biggs. 

[00:12:53] His health deteriorated, it got worse, and he longed to return to the UK.

[00:13:01] And in 2001 he did return, but he was immediately arrested. 

[00:13:08] Even though he was in his seventies he had committed a pretty serious crime, and he still had 28 years to serve of his sentence. 

[00:13:20] So he was put back in prison, and he served another eight years. 

[00:13:26] In 2009 he was released from prison on what's called 'compassionate grounds', basically he was very ill. 

[00:13:36] And he died four years later in 2013. 

[00:13:40] I should add that although this crime has gone down in history and has been romanticised quite a lot, including I guess what we're doing here on this podcast, it was obviously a pretty serious crime and not completely victim-free. 

[00:14:01] During the robbery, one of the guards of the train, a man called Jack Mills, was hit over the head with an iron bar.

[00:14:12] Although he wasn't killed, he suffered severe brain damage and never properly recovered from his injuries. 

[00:14:21] So it was definitely not victimless, the crime. 

[00:14:26] And it obviously was a pretty serious crime. 

[00:14:29] It was the biggest cash robbery, the biggest theft of physical money in Britain for 40 years, until it was eclipsed by a robbery in Northern Ireland in 2004. 

[00:14:44] In any case, The Great Train Robbery has gone down in history, and you will find references to it throughout British pop culture, from Beatles lyrics to Agatha Christie, from Inspector Clouseau to James Bond, it's everywhere and it has had an impact on British culture like no other crime, I guess. 

[00:15:13] Not just because it's a huge robbery, but it's also a story of escapes from prison, a global manhunt, and then the ultimately sad end for many of the robbers.

[00:15:27] Okay then, that is it for today's episode. 

[00:15:32] I hope you've enjoyed it and I certainly hope that it hasn't inspired you to start robbing trains.

[00:15:39] As I said, the story doesn't end well. 

[00:15:42] As a quick reminder, if you are looking for the transcript and key vocabulary for the podcast, you can find that at leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:15:53] It is a really useful resource for following along and improving your English at the same time as listening to the podcast. 

[00:16:00] So I definitely recommend going and checking that out if you haven't done so already.

[00:16:07] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds by Leonardo English. 

[00:16:12] I'm Alastair Budge. 

[00:16:14] You stay safe and I'll catch you in the next episode.

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