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How Great Train Robber Bruce Reynolds was run to ground in Torquay

By GuyHenderson  |  Posted: March 01, 2013

  • Bruce Reynolds cutting

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BRUCE Reynolds, who was said to have been the key planner behind the £2.6m Great Train Robbery in 1963, has died aged 81.

Reynolds spent most of the following five years overseas to evade capture, but he returned to england and was captured in Torquay in 1968. He spent 10 years in jail.

The haul from the raid by 15 men on a mail train, stopped in Buckinghamshire, was a record at that time.

Reynolds' son Nick told the BBC his father had died in the early hours of Thursday.

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Crime reporters from the national daily papers sped into Torquay in 1968 to record the end of a five year man hunt.

In the early hours of November 8 Flying Squad officers raided a Torquay villa and arrested Great Train Robber Bruce Reynolds who had evaded their capture for years.

Reynolds had been one of the masterminds behind the Great Train Robbery which in 1963 had netted around £2.5m in cash. The gang dispersed but they left enough clues behind for the police to begin frequent arrests and prosecutions.

But Reynolds fled abroad and the trail went cold.

Eventually, while on the run with his wife and son, the urge to return to some kind of stability became overwhelming. Using an alias he returned to England and headed for Devon where he had holidayed as a child.

For four weeks, while looking for a permanent base, Reynolds stayed at Tudor House, in Dawlish Street, Teignmouth and mixed with regulars at the Kings Arms.

Reynolds, for whom money was never a problem, eventually moved into Villa Cap Martin in Braddons Hill Road East (number 19) , only a stone’s throw away from the old Herald Express offices.

The family became part of the community, Mrs Reynolds going to keep-fit and dress making classes at South Devon College.

Reynolds' cover was finally blown when he made the mistake of returning to his old haunts in London. Police made the link between Reynolds and a Keith Hiller living in Torquay. They were, of course, one and the same person.

Flying Squad officers hurried west with local police only being informed of the imminent raid at the last minute.

As the Daily Express reported the following day; “It was just before 6 O’Clock on a dark, dank morning that Reynolds — with the dew still in his eyes — heard a knock on the door.”

The officers were greeted by Reynold’s sleepy six-year-old son. They proceeded up the stairs to find Reynolds in his bedroom.

“Good Morning Reynolds” announced Chief Supt. Thomas Butler. It was the end of five-year hunt, that the senior policeman had come out of partial retirement to complete.

Reynolds served nine years for his part in the Great Train Robbery and after his release became a crime “celebrity” appearing on TV programmes about the episode.

Most of the money he stole was never found.

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  • JDLd500  |  December 18 2013, 12:37PM

    I worked in the computer department for Torbay Borough Council in the 1970s. My manager (Colin)there told me the following story.... Just before Reynold's capture, a couple of gentlemen, saying they were from the Inland Revenue, paid an unannounced visit on the then Treasurer at the Town Hall (Mr Grey I believe). Once in his office they disclosed their real identity - Flying Squad officers. They wanted the council's electoral roll system searched for Mr and Mrs Reynold's aliases. The electoral roll was on the council's IBM mainframe so sworn to secrecy Colin was tasked with the job of writing a program to do the search. I think he told me that they had Christian names and a surname that they wanted to match. The names were matched and the officers left happy - ready to observe the property I guess. The Treasurer and Colin were sworn to secrecy until the raid was executed. So I don't think that Reynolds gave himself up prior to the early morning call........

  • spindleshanks  |  March 01 2013, 8:18AM

    I thought, rightly or wrongly, that he was traced down to Torquay because of an unpaid parking ticket. I note the article states that most of the money he stole was never found, so can we safely assume Torbay Council had their fair share in parking fines?

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  • Dave_David  |  February 28 2013, 10:40PM

    Forgot to add this is not a true story...Reynolds phoned the police to give himself up, no police work in it, Flying Squad indeed. The Herald Express at the time, you can read it in paper cutting, said he was in Babbacombe, not so, and you must have been a tremendous athlete if you could throw a stone from the old Herald Express place in Braddons Road.

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  • omnivore23  |  February 28 2013, 2:38PM

    I like learning more about the history of Torquay - good article Guy.

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