Frances Reynolds: Wife of Great Train Robber, Bruce.
Frances was just sixteen years old when Bruce Reynolds started courting her. She knew that he operated on the wrong side of the law but she was in love. She understood his rebellious character. So when he went on the run, she was with him.
After Bruce and his colleagues had pulled off the Great Train Robbery in 1963, the couple had no choice. They had a small baby, Nick, but Franny made arrangements for him to be looked after and joined her husband in hiding.
This took them eventually to Mexico but initially they were holed up in an apartment in Croydon. When they were there, they heard that fellow train robber, John Daly, and his wife Barbara who was Frannie’s sister, had been arrested.
Depressed by the news, they opened a bottle to drown their sorrows. When they were starting their second bottle Frannie felt a cool draft blowing from upstairs. She went into their bedroom and found that the room had been burgled, the thief gaining access from an open window. This didn’t especially concern her because there were no valuables in the room.
But when she went to the window, she saw that the thief had left a ladder leaning against the wall. As she gazed out, she saw a squad car and realised that the passing police car had spotted it too. There was a knock on the door.
How to evade capture by the law
Frannie might have been young, but she was quick-thinking. If ever you find yourself in a similar situation, take a leaf out of her book. Her husband was one of the most wanted men in the country and there was a massive manhunt but Frannie coolly went to answer the door. It was the police as she had thought.
They told her that they’d seen the ladder outside the bedroom window and asked her if she’d been robbed. She told them that yes, there had been an intruder but nothing had been taken.
“Do you mind if we come in and take a look?” one of the cops asked.
“Well, I’d rather you didn’t” replied Frannie “you see, I’m here on my own…..”
“We won’t hurt you” replied the cop ” but we’d better take a look, if you don’t mind.”
Frannie had no choice. There was nothing she could do. The policemen walked into the hallway, up the stairs and into the bedroom. In there they saw Bruce Reynolds, stark naked. Frannie caught on quickly.
“You see”she said, feigning embarrassment “my husband is away and I……”
The policemen understood. “Of course” said one of them, “We’re sorry to have disturbed you. To cover his own embarrassment, he took out his notebook. “If you could just give me your name and address sir, just a formality”. Bruce did – a completely false name and address of course.
When the police had left, the couple quickly packed their things and fled. The policemen returned to the station and checked out the address that Bruce had given to them. They discovered it was fake. Then they noticed the ‘wanted’ poster on the wall.
Too late, they realised that they had been face-to-face with the most wanted man in the country.
The Reynolds family was on the run for five years and Bruce was eventually captured and jailed in 1968. He was released ten years later. Bruce died at the age of eighty one in 2013.
In the video below, meet him in later life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR