Hello again Readers. My third true crime book will soon be available on Amazon.Herewith some more information about what the book will include…
Robbers on the Rails..
The first railway passengers were content to pay for their tickets and their purpose was to travel from point to point, often on business. Within the first year a new type of rail travel began with special trains taking excited passengers on excursions, sometimes to race meetings. These trains attracted a different type of passenger and crowds of people always attracted criminals. The first type of robberies on railways were carried out by pick-pockets and these felons soon realised that passengers travelling up in first class or second class had money on them. Here is an excerpt from my upcoming book of one true railway crime…
The Bradford Observer; and Halifax, Huddersfield, and Keighley Reporter (Bradford, England), Thursday, July 20, 1843 reported a most unusual robbery in its edition under a heading of “Railway Robbery Recovery
“On Wednesday last information was given at the Leicester station of a robbery that had been committed upon a lady while travelling along the London and Birmingham Railway. The lady in question was returning to Leicester when she found, upon feeling for her ticket, that she had been robbed of £40. An engine was immediately despatched to Rugby, where it was ascertained that the party suspected had taken a ticket for Hampton and thence to Derby, at which station he took another ticket for Rugby again. The engine continued its course and came up with the train at Loughborough, following it to Leicester, where an examination of the passengers took place, and the lady identified one of them as her late fellow traveller, whereupon he was searched, and the whole of the missing property was found upon him. The lady conjectures the robbery was effected in Kilsby tunnel.”
This was quite a typical example of of the crime,perpetrated against a favourite target ( a lone female) and in a favourite location ( a tunnel) where the felon took advantage of the confusion of the dark and smoke. At least the lady was not threatened or harmed by a weapon.
It was not so easy to relieve a man of his wallet or purse but this problem was solved by carrying a weapon. Again targets were usually travelling alone and preferably elderly and travelling in first class. Most men threatened by a knife or revolver would hand over their valuables and there are numerous examples recorded. That said some gentlemen were not so easily scared and a few were prepared to put up a fight. It was such a circumstance that resulted in the very first railway murder and this incident is recorded in my upcoming book. Some thieves sought out the property of railway travellers, often left lying around for hours on station platforms.Some gangs plundered entire contents of railway goods wagons Soon even railway stations became targets as thieves realised large amounts of money was taken in fares and in the large London stations the cash was left on the premises overnight.
Some enterprising gangs of burglars even used railways to travel the length and breadth of the country, seeking out rich country estates where their target was the great wealth of the landed gentry. They could plan and execute their robberies very quickly and within hours be back on an express train London where the local bobbies could not possibly trace them.
From 1830-1899 the number and types of robberies increased enormously and sadly lives of the travelling public and police officers were lost in the process. My new book will detail a good selection of these……..
Ok that is all for now folks, two more blogs before my book is launched on Christmas Day……..