Nominated by: Darell Foster Kirsop
Bridego Bridge is unprepossessing in itself, but as the scene of The Great Train Robbery in 1963, it must surely count as something of a heritage or perhaps even cultural reference in Buckinghamshire’s more recent history. The bridge is located in Ledburn, a small hamlet in Mentmore, Buckinghamshire. There’s a small sign on the side of the bridge commemorating The Great Train Robbery. The bridge’s official name is now the Mentmore Bridge but it is commonly called the Bridego Bridge or Train Robbers’ Bridge.
It was August 1963 when 16 men waited for the Glasgow-to-London royal mail train, which was loaded with banknotes destined to be burned by the royal mint. The robbers stopped the train by making the signal go red and once the train had stopped, threw 120 sacks of bank notes from the bridge to the road below where cars were waiting to take the sacks away.
The robbers made off with £2.6 million (approximate £50 million today), a sum made even larger as it was after the bank holiday, meaning there were more banknotes than usual on the train. For a while the robbers remained hidden on Leatherslade Farm, near Brill, before dispersing. Eventually most of the gang were caught and a trial took place in Aylesbury in 1964. Mr Justice Edmund Davies presided over the trial, which lasted 51 days and included 613 exhibits and 240 witnesses – after which 7 of the robbers were given sentences of 30 years’ imprisonment.
The robbery itself put this quiet corner of the county on the map – albeit momentarily, and the subsequent trial in Aylesbury was the biggest the town has ever seen, and likely, never to see again. As well as attracting worldwide media attention at the time, the story has been retold many times over in film, documentary and book form.
Notorious though it may be, I think it deserves a place in the annals of 100 objects that define Buckinghamshire.
Bridego Bridge was nominated by Darrell Foster Kirsop.