The Great Train Robbery: The Hidden Tapes - C4

The Great Train Robbery: The robbed train in 1963
(Image credit: Bettmann Archive)

In The Great Train Robbery: The Hidden Tapes, new light is shed on one of history's most infamous and audacious robberies

The Great Train Robbery still captures our imagination, 56 years on, partly because there are still unanswered questions.

The plot was like something out of a Hollywood movie – on 8 August 1963, a Royal Mail train was stopped and 16 robbers unloaded dozens of sacks containing £2.6m (around £51m today).

Now, thanks to long-forgotten tapes recorded in 1978 by gang member Roger Cordrey, this documentary reveals startling new facts.

There are also interviews with some of the robbers’ children, including Danny Pembroke, whose father, also called Danny, was never arrested for his role in the heist.

Danny Pembroke with his son, Danny

Danny Pembroke with his son, Danny

"I knew he was different," says Danny Jr. "But he never discussed what he did for a living.

"When he was 28, he dyed his hair grey. I thought nothing of it. Then years later I found out that on one of these robberies one of the perpetrators was an old man in a wheelchair. It made sense."

After the Great Train robbery, the gang counted up the cash at nearby Leatherslade Farm. The plan had been to torch the farm to destroy evidence, but Danny Sr was extra careful.

"For the whole time he was in Leatherslade he kept his gloves on," says Danny Jr.

"He never used the toilet. He’d take a shovel and walk out of the farmhouse and dig a hole."

The care he took paid off. Danny was taken in by the police for questioning but there was no evidence to charge him.

He later fled to Florida and returned once the dust had settled, getting a job as a cabbie and leading a normal life until his death in 2015.

TV Times rating: ****