December 8 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, February 28, 2013
The main man behind the Great Train Robbery has died - just months before the 50th anniversary of the heist
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”.
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”
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.