RIP, the infamous farmhouse of '63

Click to follow
The Independent Online
THE MOST notorious farmhouse in the country is likely to be demolished.

Leatherslade Farm, near Oakley, Buckinghamshire, was the hideout of the Great Train Robbers. It was 29 years ago yesterday that Ronald Biggs, Buster Edwards, Roy 'The Weasel' James and co stopped the Glasgow-Euston Royal Mail train at Sears Crossing, near Linslade in Buckinghamshire, and stole pounds 2,631,684. Jack Mills, the driver, was hit over the head with an iron bar and later died from the injuries he received.

For the next two days the robbers holed up at Leatherslade, a secluded three-bedroom farmhouse. Police found the farmhouse five days later, empty except for one mailbag containing pounds 628 10s. The gang had obviously planned a long wait - the police found 200 eggs, supplies of canned food, and 34 toilet rolls. In the garage were two Land- Rovers and a three-ton lorry with a false bottom.

Now, Paul Morris, Leatherslade's owner, who according to a neighbour has lived at the farm for '15 to 20 years', has applied to the local council for permission to demolish the farm and build a red-brick house on the site. He would say only: 'It is entirely our business. No one's interested in it any more.'

Paul Maling, Mr Morris's surveyor, said the farmhouse was ' horrible, a mixture of everything - red brick, rendered, slates, felt, Roman tiles. We're going to knock it down before it falls down and rebuild it.' The replacement will be 'nothing too fancy. Plain tiles, brick, the same height as it is now - two storeys.'

Neighbours' recollections of the events of 29 years ago have become colourful as the years have passed. One said the robbers used to go to the Royal Oak pub in Oakley. 'They used to go in separately. They never spoke to each other and no one knew it was them until afterwards.' This came as a surprise to Buster Edwards, who now runs a flower stall outside Waterloo station in London. 'The only time we left the house was when we left,' he said.

He has returned to Leatherslade 'a few times', but met an icy reception from Mr Morris. 'I went up a few years ago when we were filming Buster. He wouldn't let us use it. He's built a big fence all the way round. He hates all the attention.'

(Photograph omitted)