Belfast Telegraph

Great Train Robbery mole unmasked as Belfast man

By Christopher Woodhouse

The man who provided the inside information to the Great Train Robbers has been unmasked as Belfast man Paddy McKenna.

The makers of a new film — The Great Train Robbery: A Tale of Two Thieves — claim to have identified the senior Royal Mail employee who supplied inside information to the infamous gang that included Buster Edwards and Ronnie Biggs.

The mole is said to be a devout Catholic from Belfast who may have given his share of the stolen cash to church charities.

Dubbed the Great Train Robbery by the press, the August 1963 raid on the Travelling Post Office was the largest ever cash robbery up to that point — netting the gang £2.6 million, worth £48 million today.

The heist was made possible by a GPO insider who told Edwards and his gang what train to rob and gave them other vital inside information.

‘The Ulsterman’ was never caught and took his secret to the grave with him.

But now Gordon Goody, one of the masterminds behind the robbery, has provided a name for the mysterious mole who made him a millionaire.

While planning the raid with Bruce Reynolds and Buster Edwards, Goody met ‘the Ulsterman’ in Finsbury Park in London where he passed him information on the timetable and operation of the train.

With the name provided by Goody, which he claimed to have glimpsed on a spectacles case belonging to ‘the Ulsterman’ at one of their meetings, the film makers hired an investigator to trace him.

Based on the name and an estimate of his age at the time of the robbery, the most likely candidate for ‘the Ulsterman’ is a GPO worker born in Belfast. He joined the GPO in Belfast before moving to London where he married and then transferred to Manchester where he raised a family.

His address in London was close to Finsbury Park where he met Goody and Edwards to pass on information.

Goody, now 84-years-old, is filmed at his home in southern Spain being shown photographs and told details of the Ulsterman's life. Despite it being over half a century since he last saw him, Goody says he is 100 per cent certain that the man in the photos is the same Ulsterman he met in 1963.

According to the film research ‘the Ulsterman’ retired from the Post Office in 1974 due to ill health having risen to the rank of GPO inspector. He died 21 years later.

Even though he received a cut equal to around £2.5 million in today's money, the Belfast born mole lived a modest lifestyle and didn’t leave a will.

The investigator says he was a very religious man and suggests that he may have given his share of the takings to his local church or a Catholic charity with which he was heavily involved at the time.

The film suggests his motive for working with the gang was trying to teach mail bosses a lesson over the lack of security on the travelling post office.

Although his name is not revealed, out of deference to his surviving family, several photos give a tantalising glimpse of the Belfast man who helped pull off one of the most famous heists in history.

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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