First Great Train Robbery, The


In 1855, England and France

were at war with Russia in the Crimea.

The English troops were paid in gold.

Once a month 25,000 in gold

was loaded into strongboxes

inside the London bank

of Huddleston and Bradford

and taken by trusted armed guards

to the railway station.

The convoy followed

no fixed route or timetable.

The gold was loaded into the

luggage van of the Folkestone train

for shipment to the coast

and from there to the Crimea.

The strongboxes

were placed in two Chubb safes

constructed of

three-quarter-inch tempered steel.

Each safe weighed 550 pounds.

Each safe was fitted with two locks

requiring two keys,

or four keys altogether.

For security,

each key was individually protected.

Two keys were entrusted to the railway

dispatcher, who kept them in his office.

A third was in the custody of

Mr Edgar Trent,

president of the Huddleston and Bradford.

And the fourth key

was given to Mr Henry Fowler,

manager of the Huddleston

and Bradford Bank.

The presence of so much gold

in one place

aroused the interests

of the English criminal elements,

but in 1855 there had never been

a robbery from a moving railway train.

Is he dead?

Robbery? I'd hardly call it that -

one poor fellow working alone.

He had no chance of success.

Indeed, speaking on behalf of the bank,

I must inform you the matter was trivial

and hardly worthy of our consideration.

I think I may say that

without fear of contradiction.

The villain expired?

Quite. The guard threw him

from the train at full speed.

He died instantly. Poor devil.

- He's not been identified?

- I shouldn't think so.

The manner of his passing was such

that his features were... disarrayed.

He was obviously after the Crimean gold.

- Apparently. Speaking...

- This damnable war

- will be the undoing of the nation.

- He's off again.

Unrest in the north, and now this

ill-considered war with the Tsar.

What do you expect

when one man in seven has the vote?

We have shopkeepers voting now.

And women next. If they get their way.

Women voting. Really!

- This robbery had interesting...

- They haven't the capacity for logic.

- Too emotional. Quite absurd.

- It's not their logical capacity I enjoy.

- Even a good woman's too much trouble.

- Come, Arthur, they do have their uses.

Edward's got the proper view

by not marrying at all.

Someone will catch him.

- I know one or two with their eye on him.

- No one will catch Edward.

God knows what a man may catch

in London if he's not married.

This thief on the train, Henry.

Was there a risk of him stealing the gold?

- None. Quite impossible.

- Nothing's impossible.

Utterly impossible. Two Chubb safes,

four keys separately guarded. lmpossible.

- Still, I suppose it could be done.

- I can't imagine how.

A thief would have to get all four keys.

Two are locked away in the station.

One is in the hands of our president,

Mr Edgar Trent, who is utterly reliable.

I don't know where Mr Trent

keeps his key but I know of the fourth,

for I am myself entrusted with guarding it.

Damn it, Henry, when are you going to

tell us where you've hidden your key?

I keep it about my neck.

I wear it at all times.

Even when bathing?

Even while bathing.

It never leaves my person.

- Clever.

- Most ingenious.

So you see, to get all four keys -

quite impossible.

The Crimean gold and all the bank's

other transactions are entirely safe.

Thank God for that.

You may count on it, Edward. Count on it.

- Who do those men think you are?

- Edward Pierce. A sharp businessman.

A sharp businessman?

That covers a multitude of sins.

It does among that group.

And what's your business?

It's not really clear. I've made a great deal

of money in coal, in the north.

- Have you?

- Oh, yes, I have. I'm quite well-off.

Are you?

I think so.

I've... made something of myself.

Do they believe all that?

Among sharp businessmen

one doesn't ask too many questions.

Do they know of your interest

in the theatre?

An unmarried gentleman

must amuse himself.

- Must he?

- Oh, yes, he must.

Did they mention the train?

What did they say?

They all agreed that it was impossible.

Simply impossible.

You like that?

I can tell it excites you.

Are you all right?

Nice pull.

Not bad, if I do say so myself.

You look well.

Yes. How was the touch?

You saw it, didn't you?

Or was I so fast you couldn't see it?

I saw.

- Did you wire her?

- No, just my hands.


- Thinking of a job, then?

- I may have one or two little things.

Those one or two little things...

Could they be crib jobs?

They could.

- Bit dicey, are they?

- Very dicey.

- Is it dipping or keys?

- Keys.

- Wax or a straightaway haul?

- Wax.

You didn't do the Berkeley Hills job,

did you?

Berkeley Hills? Sh*t job.

A sh*t job? Well, they're clean

with 2,000 guineas gone.

No. I was thinking of something bigger.

This wax. On the fly?

Then I'm your man.

- The fastest screwsman you'll ever see.

- So I heard.

- What's it to be, then?

- First we must case a square-rigged gent.

Good night.

Mr Edgar Trent,

president of the Huddleston

and Bradford Bank,

follows an inflexible routine,

departing the bank

at the end of each day promptly at 7 pm.

Mr Trent resides at

number seven Belgrave Square.

It's a mansion of 23 rooms,

not including servants' quarters.

His second wife, Emily,

is 30 years his junior,

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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