The Great Train Robbery
By Nick Russell-Pavier, Stewart Richards
Definitive account of the famous 1963 Great Train Robbery - and its aftermath. In the early hours of Thursday 8th August 1963 at rural Cheddington in Buckinghamshire, £2.6 million (£50 million today) in unmarked £5, £1 and 10-shilling notes was stolen from the Glasgow to London nightmail train in a daring and brilliantly executed operation lasting just 46 minutes. Quickly dubbed the crime of the century, it has captured the imagination of the public and the world's media for 50 years, taking its place in British folklore and giving birth to the myths of The Great Train Robbery. Ronnie Biggs, Buster Edwards and Bruce Reynolds became household names.But what really happened? This is the story of four talented villains who took the criminal world by storm, of the 'perfect crime'. It is also the story of ruthless policemen, determined to hunt the robbers down and to make sure nobody slipped through the net, not even the innocent. It is the story of an Establishment under siege, and of one mistake which cost the robbers 307 years in prison.Fifty years later, here is the story set out in full for the first time, a true-life crime thriller, and also a vivid slice of British social history.
Gentlemen & Players
By Charles Williams
Amateurs versus professionals - a social history and memoir of English cricket from 1953 to 1963.The inaugural Gentlemen v. Players first-class cricket match was played in 1806, subsequently becoming an annual fixture at Lord's between teams consisting of amateurs (the Gentlemen) and professionals (the Players). The key difference between the amateur and the professional, however, was much more than the obvious one of remuneration. The division was shaped by English class structure, the amateur, who received expenses, being perceived as occupying a higher station in life than the wage-earning professional. The great Yorkshire player Len Hutton, for example, was told he would have to go amateur if he wanted to captain England.GENTLEMEN & PLAYERS focuses on the final ten years of amateurism and the Gentlemen v. Players fixture, starting with Charles Williams' own presence in the (amateur) Oxbridge teams that included future England captains such as Peter May, Colin Cowdrey and M.J.K. Smith, and concluding with the abolition of amateurism in 1962 when all first-class players became professional. The amateur innings was duly declared closed.Charles Williams, the author of a richly acclaimed biography of Donald Bradman, has penned a vivid social-history-cum-memoir that reveals an attempt to recreate a Golden Age in post-war Britain, one whose expiry exactly coincided with the beginnings of top-class one-day cricket and a cricket revolution.
Gentlemen and Blackguards
By Nicholas Foulkes
Men, money, duelling and murder: welcome to the infamous Derby race of 1844 and the gambling mania that gripped early 19th century Britain.This is a tale of money, gambling and sporting obsession; of rogues and rascals, outrageous criminality, aristocratic complacency, and a gripping investigation to expose the most audacious sporting plot of the age. In the early 1840s, Britain was the gambling capital of Europe and the Epsom Derby was attracting countless spectators and many millions of pounds in wagers. It was a time of frenzied speculation, high stakes and low morals.But as the unprincipled Regency era gave way to the high-mindedness of the Victorian period, reformers decided it was time to challenge the murky world of illegal gambling and in 1844, launched the far-reaching Parliamentary Enquiry. When the Derby of the same year ended in chaos, with the two favourite horses doped, the Turf's most dedicated follower and greatest tyrant Lord George Bentinck, took it upon himself to uncover the truth of what happened that day, which led to one of the most sensational court cases of the 19th century. A compelling detective story peopled with low-life aristocrats and high-minded reformers, GENTLEMEN AND BLACKGUARDS paints a rich picture of early Victorian society, bringing to light an overlooked turning point in British history.