Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Rogue Mail

So, farewell then Ronnie Biggs. The BBC must collectively be going "Well I never", considering the boost this news gives their drama on the 1963 Great Train Robbery that, amazingly, starts tonight. Back in those far off days I was returning home from the Chilterns in my dad's apple green Ford Popular, my mum in the front saying things like "Watch that cow Arthur" and me glowering and spotty-faced in the back. Suddenly, somewhere south of Leighton Buzzard, my mother says "Ooh, I know that bridge" pointing across a field to a railway embankment on the London-Euston mainline. "We were all in a charabanc going to Grandad's [a Chiltern strawberry farmer in Lee Common] and we went under that bridge and then it went off the road and tipped us all out into the ditch". My father looked at me in his driving mirror and we said nothing. "Were any of you hurt?" I eventually said. "No I don't think so. It went so gently down the bank we were just laughing in a big heap". And do you know, dear readers, that very night, at this very spot, the train robbers relieved the Glasgow to Euston mail train of what would be today around £40 million. Quite what the charabanc and the outing from Wellingborough's Strict Baptist Tabernacle were doing on this lonely lane I will probably never know. Anyway, that's two coincidences for today, three if you count my very recently taking the above picture at Quorn station, courtesy of the Great Central Railway. 


Hels said...

Hey... I picked 1963 for my current post as well. It was fun remembering where we were and what we were doing in 1963. It does not seem that long ago to me *groan*.

But how did you know about Ronald Biggs so quickly? You in the UK had him as a criminal but we in Australia had him as a refugee from justice.

Jane Aston said...

My husband knew him. Before the train robbery. He knew him as Ron, it was many years before he realised he was the same Ron. Ron joined in with jaunts on old motorbikes. Apparently he had a Francis Barnett 225cc Cruiser and my husband and his friend had smaller FB's. Ron was seeing a lady down the road from where my husband lived. He had already done a stretch in prison although he said he'd been 'Up West' doing a bit of work. He was a few years older than my husband and was married with kids too. I often ask him about his friend Ron and he finds it funny talking about the fact he knew him.

Peter Ashley said...

Ah well Hels, he was no Ned Kelly. His demise was announced on the Today programme on Radio 4 about 7.15 I think.

Jane. What can I say? Has your husband still got his FB?

Jane Aston said...

My husband, George doesn't have his FB any longer. He went on to Velocettes. The motorcycle Ronnie bought was a rarish model in Cream with green lines around the the tank. George said he upstaged his younger companions with his bike. It was flashier and a bit more powerful. He couldn't really control it that well and came off a few times.
We watched the drama about The Train Robbery last night and George realised he knew him around the time they were planning the robbery. How bizarre!

Philip Wilkinson said...

What a glorious red. Not even pillar boxes seem so radiant these days.