Great Train Robber dies aged 81

18:10 28 February 2013

Bruce Reynolds has died aged 81, just before the 50th anniversary of the heist. File picture: PA Wire

Bruce Reynolds has died aged 81, just before the 50th anniversary of the heist. File picture: PA Wire

The main man behind the Great Train Robbery has died - just months before the 50th anniversary of the heist

Bruce Reynolds (left) and Buster Edwards, two of the Great Train Robbers. Picture: PA/PA WireBruce Reynolds (left) and Buster Edwards, two of the Great Train Robbers. Picture: PA/PA Wire

Londoner Bruce Reynolds, 81, died in his sleep this morning after a period of ill-health in which he was looked after by his son, Nick.

Reynolds was in the gang that made off with more than £2.5 million - equivalent to £40 million today - when they held up the Royal Mail travelling post office which ran between Glasgow and London.

Antiques dealer Reynolds was nicknamed “Napoleon” and after the Great Train Robbery, he fled to Mexico on a false passport and was joined by his wife, Angela, and son, Nick.

Family friend John Schoonraad said he always found Reynolds to be the “perfect gentleman” and a “philosophical, gentle person”.

The robbery took place 50 years ago. File picture: PAThe robbery took place 50 years ago. File picture: PA

Mr Schoonraad said Reynolds had been ill for a number of days and had a “chest complaint”.

He said: “He was a very nice man. I know in the past he was a bit notorious, well, really notorious, for the Great Train Robbery.”

Eddie Richardson, an old friend of Reynolds who spent time with him in prison, said he was sad to hear about his death and described him as “good company”.

“Make his mark”

Bruce Reynolds in 2003. Picture: Matthew Fearn/PA WireBruce Reynolds in 2003. Picture: Matthew Fearn/PA Wire

Richardson, described on his website as a 1960s “south London gangland boss”, said: “He was all right. He was his own man. He done his own thing. There’s only a couple left now.

“I used to do a bit of running with him (in prison).”

Having spent 25 years in jail himself, Richardson recalled Reynolds being a good friend to him on occasion behind bars.

He said: “He was quite good. He was good company, an experienced person, had a few stories to tell.

“I’m sad to hear the news, and it’s a shame really.”

They later moved on to Canada but the cash from the robbery ran out and he came back to England.

Five years after the heist, in 1968, a broke Reynolds was captured in Torquay and sentenced to 25 years in jail.

He was released on parole in 1978 and moved, alone and penniless, into a tiny flat off Edgware Road.

In the 1980s he was jailed for three years for dealing amphetamines.

Reynolds said he wanted to get rich but also to “make his mark” with a crime to go down in the history books.

His memoirs, written in 1995, said the Great Train Robbery proved a curse which followed him around and no-one wanted to employ him, legally or illegally.

“I became an old crook living on handouts from other old crooks,” he said.

Reynolds marked the 40th anniversary of the heist, in 2003, as guest of honour at a village fete in Oakley, Buckinghamshire, close to the farm where the gang hid after the crime.

Latest Stories

Yesterday, 14:16
The twins, who spend most of their day latched onto dad, have been named Winnie and Piglet by zookeepers ahead of this weekend’s Winnie the bear celebration at the Little Creatures family festival.

These two new arrivals, born just in time for a weekend celebrating the bear who inspired Winnie the Pooh, have been given some very apt names.

Read more
Yesterday, 15:14
Police were called to the house of Sam Taylor Wood, seen here with husband Aaron Taylor Johnson at the European premiere of 'Godzilla' in Leicester Square in May, after the machine gun was spotted through a window  (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)

Sam Taylor-Johnson got a visit from the firearms squad last night after a spotter-by noticed a machine gun in her house and called the police.

Read more
Yesterday, 13:01
Firearms officers arrested the suspect

Members of the public helped to thwart an attempted armed robbery in Whitechapel yesterday.

Read more

Quirky London

Quizzes

Amy Winehouse's second album became a classic

Are you an Amy Winehouse superfan?

Read more
I'm only going to say this once: Stand. On. The. Right.

James Bond is Britain’s most famous secret agent, and the capital is its most famous city, so it makes sense that 007 would live and work here when he isn’t gallivanting around the world.

Read more
Can you find the animals hiding in London station names? (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

You may not realise it but there are animals hiding in stations across London? Play our quiz and see if you can you find them:

Read more