Mike Doodson’s article on Great Train Robber Roy James was pretty near the mark and, as he says, Roy hated being called the ‘Weasel’. He was in fact not arrested for the GTR. Nor were two others, whom I met; they got away, but feared they’d left their finger prints at the farm, so if you know of a south Londoner in his late Seventies who never goes out without gloves…
After planning and capital expenses, the individual payout was just over £160,000 each! Here are some other facts, disclosed to me by Roy.
Roy took three lots of loot back to London in his 3.8 Jag. Worried he might ‘get pulled’ he drove sensibly down to Edgware, and then tore through London streets to the firm’s East End hide out, where the loot was hastily distributed.
There was never a Mr Big; the robbery was planned by Bruce Reynolds and Roy, but they did take suggestions from members of their firm, of which Ronnie Biggs was never a member. They enlisted labour from another mob, Biggs being one without ever playing any important part. It really irked firm members that Biggs had such a big mouth.
The 1978 book The Train Robbers was accurate in detail, being ghosted by the remaining GTR firm. But unknown to author Piers Paul Read, they fed him a fair amount of fiction as the firm wanted the lucrative rights from a GTR film, which they recognised would be no good without a Mr Big. So they co-opted a real-life Mr Big (deceased) whom they had ‘done a bit of business with’, like the biggest ‘casino’ heist (Cannes) up until that time on the French Rivera coast, the proceeds bankrolling the GTR.
However there was one other guy from motor racing that took part, and the greatest saloon car driver I ever saw! Post robbery Roy had planned to go Formula 3 in Europe with this amazing driver, both putting £30,000 each into the pot, a huge sum back then. But it never happened with Roy ‘having his collar felt’, and then tragically his F3 partner unexpectedly died the following season.
David Brodie, Reading, Berks