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The Ronnie Biggs Story: Money, Arsenal And Going Punk In Rio

By on 4 January 2014 | comments 0

FAREWELL then, Ronnie Biggs.

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It was the funeral of the year.

Crowds gathered to see off the Ronnie Biggs, of Great Train Robbery fame, and his cortege included a Hell’s Angels guard of honour.

Ronnie Biggs Funeral

 

Celebrities and underworld faces mingled at Golders Green, and respect was paid to one of Britain’s most famous fugitives – in some cases via video cameras while behind bars at Her Majesty’s pleasure.

Freddie Foreman

Freddie Foreman

ey attends the funeral of Ronnie Biggs at Golders Green Crematorium in North London.

Dave Courtney attends the funeral of Ronnie Biggs at Golders Green Crematorium in North London.

The coffin was draped in a Union Flag, which was itself pointedly covered up by a Brazilian flag and an Arsenal scarf.

Ronnie Biggs Funeral

 

Biggs’ role in the robbery, which netted an unprecedented haul of £2.6 million in used notes, was minor – he described himself as ‘the tea boy’. His notoriety derives from his audacious escape from jail and his subsequent years in exile, during which time he thumbed his nose at the British establishment for a second time, as repeated attempts to abduct and extradite him ended in ignominious failure.

 

Ronnie Biggs, 35, jailed for 30 years for his part in the Great Train Robbery, was one of four prisoners that escaped from Wandsworth prison. 03/05/01: Ronnie  Biggs is returning to Britain after 35 years on the run, it was reported.  * He is prepared to face arrest when he flies into the country from his home in Rio de Janeiro, according to The Sun. The 71-year-old claimed he is in failing health after recently suffering his third stroke. 22/12/02: Ronnie Biggs, 35, jailed for 30 years for his part in the Great Train Robbery came 7th in a Top 10 list of arrests by British police. The Great Train Robbers, stormed a Glasgow to London mail train in 1963, making off with  2.6 million in used bank notes. The masked gang of 20, including Ronnie Biggs, had tampered with signals and badly injured the driver to make sure their plan came off. The robbers were eventually caught at a farmhouse hideout by Scotland Yard detectives and received sentences totalling 300 years. The Top 10 list, released to coincide with the 110th birthday of Police Review, was compiled by Jan Berry, chairman of the Police Federation, Rick Naylor, vice president of the Superintendents  Association, and Police Review staff.

Ronnie Biggs, 35, jailed for 30 years for his part in the Great Train Robbery, was one of four prisoners that escaped from Wandsworth prison.

 

Before 8 August 1963 (his 34th birthday) Biggs was a small-time criminal. On that day, he took part in Britain’s biggest-ever heist, and the rest of his days were lived in the public eye…

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1963: Biggs joins the ranks of Britain’s most wanted.

The police record sheet of Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs. Thames Valley Police have opened a new exhibition at their museum near Reading,  to mark the 40th anniversary of the audacious  2.5 million robbery which happened on the night of August 8, 1963. .

The police record sheet of Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs. Thames Valley Police have opened a new exhibition at their museum near Reading, to mark the 40th anniversary of the audacious 2.5 million robbery which happened on the night of August 8, 1963. .

 

1963: Nicked! And sentenced to an unprecedented 30-year stretch.

8/7/65: Biggs has escaped from Wandsworth Jail in south London with three other prisoners.   The four men were exercising in the prison yard with other prisoners when a rope and tubular ladder were thrown over the wall. The men escaped in three waiting cars.

8/7/65: Biggs has escaped from Wandsworth Jail in south London with three other prisoners. The four men were exercising in the prison yard with other prisoners when a rope and tubular ladder were thrown over the wall. The men escaped in three waiting cars.

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1965: HMP Wandsworth after Biggs’ escape via a flexible ladder thrown over the wall.

By the wall of Wandsworth Jail in South London, police work on the pantechnicon used in the escape from the prison of Ronald Biggs

By the wall of Wandsworth Jail in South London, police work on the pantechnicon used in the escape from the prison of Ronald Biggs

 

A green Ford Cortina, one of the getaway cars, found abandoned in Holloway.

1965: The green Ford Cortina, one of the getaway cars used in the escape of train robber Ronald Biggs and 3 other men from Wandsworth prison last week. The car was found abandoned in a street in Holloway, London. To the right is Mr Torrington, owner of Autohall Car Hire from which the car was hired.

1965: The green Ford Cortina, one of the getaway cars used in the escape of train robber Ronald Biggs and 3 other men from Wandsworth prison last week. The car was found abandoned in a street in Holloway, London. To the right is Mr Torrington, owner of Autohall Car Hire from which the car was hired.

 

1971: On the run. This photo of Biggs on an Australian beach was circulated as part of a London Weekend Television appeal, as detectives from Scotland Yard’s Flying Squad thought he might have returned to South London

Crime - Ronnie Biggs Televison Appeal - 1971

 

 

An artist’s impression of a disguised Biggs, also circulated as part of the TV programme.

Crime - Ronnie Biggs Televison Appeal - 1971

 

1974: Ronnie reunited with wife Charmain in his cell in Brasilia, awaiting word as to whether Britain’s request for his extradition will be granted.

Ronnie Biggs and Wife Charmain

 

 

Chief detective superintendent Jack Slipper brushes reporters aside at Gatwick Airport, having returned empty handed after failing to secure Biggs in Rio.

Great Britian London Jack Slipper and Reporters

 

The Rio years. Sun, sea, and celebrity…

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description

 

1977: Charles Watson, a Scottish school teacher designed and printed a T-shirt (above) with Ron’s portrait. Biggs is wearing a Royal Navy hat with the name of HMS Danae, a ship he visited with British sailors.

Ronald Biggs

 

1978: Ronnie goes punk! Sex Pistols Steve Jones and Paul Cook meet up with him to record some songs and film The Great Rock’n’Roll Swindle. Together they came up with the superb – and hilarious – single ‘No One Is Innocent’…

Crime - The Great Train Robber

 

1981: Three Scotland Yard detectives arrive home after failing to nab Biggs in Barbados.

Crime - Great Train Robbery - Heathrow Airport, London

 

1982: With Albert Spaggiari in Rio de Janeiro. The Frenchman (in wig and moustache) masterminded the Nice sewers bank robbery and was also on the run.

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1988: Movie star! Ronnie filming his biopic, The Prisoner of Rio.

Great Train Robbery anniversary

Michael Biggs - "The Prisoner of Rio" - Heathrow Airport

 

1988: Biggs’ son Mike advertises the film (above) and goes to Buckingham Palace to hand in a letter requesting a royal pardon for his father. …

News - Royal pardon letter - Mike Biggs - Buckingham Palace - London

 

1994: Mike shows Jack Slipper (now retired) a copy of Ron’s latest autobiography, ‘Odd Man Out’.

 

'Odd Man Out' Launch

 
1997: Ronnie in Rio.

Britain Great Train Robber

 

1999: Ronnie shares a laugh with Bruce Reynolds, right, and Roy Shaw in Rio.

BRAZIL BRITAIN GREAT TRAIN ROBBER

 

2001: Back in Blighty. Biggs leaves Chiswick Police Station on his way to court, having finally returned from Brazil.

France Prison Break

 

And on to his new home – Belmarsh prison…

Ronnie Biggs Returns

 

 

2009: Ronnie is carried into a nursing home after he was freed by Home Secretary Jack Straw on compassionate grounds. Biggs was by now seriously ill and not expected to recover.

Britain Train Robber

 
2011: News conference for the release of his updated autobiography, ‘Odd Man Out: The Last Straw’.

Britain Ronnie Biggs

 

2013: Two fingers to the gentlemen of the press at the funeral of Bruce Reynolds

Funeral of Bruce Reynolds

 

And two fingers again, at his own send-off…

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