Bruce Reynolds, the man who masterminded the Great Train Robbery of 1963 has died aged 81 after a spell of ill health.

The Great Train Robbery saw the gang make off with a staggering £2.6million - which in 2012 would be worth around £40million.

Reynolds spent five years on the run but eventually jailed for 25 years. He was released in 1979 and went on to pen The Autobiography of a Thief.

bruce reynolds

Bruce Reynolds, leader of the Great Train Robbery gang, pictures outside court in 1968

The gang targeted a Royal Mail train from Glasgow that carried letters, packages and huge quantities of cash.

They forced it to stop in Buckinghamshire in the early hours of the morning of Thursday 8 August by tampering with a signal and making it show red.

The crooks then stormed the train by force and unloaded the money in just 25 minutes onto a truck at a nearby station, having moved the train further down the line.

great train robbery train

The Glasgow-London Royal mail train, which was attacked in the night by 15 armed robbers

Gang member James Hussey admitted on his deathbed last year that it was him who struck train driver Jack Mills, then 57, according to a report in The Sun.

Mills died seven years after the attack and it is believed the head injury he sustained contributed to his death.

Until then it was thought one of the three robbers who escaped prosecution - or Ronald "Buster" Edwards who had hit Mills.

ronnie biggs

Biggs, who fled the UK, in Brazil in 1980

Most of the gang were caught and given long jail terms but Ronnie Biggs escaped from Wandsworth prison in 1965 and fled abroad, living on the run for 36 years.

He returned to the UK in search of medical care in 2001 and was released from prison in 2009 on compassionate grounds.

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  • Bronson - Special Screening Afterparty

    Former career criminal Bruce Reynolds attends the afterparty following the special screening of 'Bronson', at the Embassy Club on March 10, 2009 in London, England (Photo by Dave M. Benett/Getty Images)

  • Bruce Reynolds

    Great train robber Bruce Reynolds pictured in London.

  • Bruce Reynolds

    Great train robber Bruce Reynolds pictured in London.

  • Bruce Reynolds

    Great train robber Bruce Reynolds pictured in London.

  • Train robber Bruce Reynolds meets John Woolley

    Great Train Robber Bruce Reynolds (right) meets former police officer John Woolley at Oakley Village Hall, Buckinghamshire, during a village fete. Mr Woolley discovered the robbers had been using nearby Leatherslade Farm as a hideout during the planning and immediate aftermath of the robbery in 1963.

  • Bruce Reynolds meets John Woolley

    Great Train Robber Bruce Reynolds (right) meets former police officer John Woolley at Oakley Village Hall, Buckinghamshire, during a village fete. Mr Woolley discovered the robbers had been using nearby Leatherslade Farm as a hideout during the planning and immediate aftermath of the robbery in 1963.

  • Train robber Bruce Reynolds

    Great Train Robber Bruce Reynolds at Oakley Village Hall, Buckinghamshire, during a village fete. The robbers used nearby Leatherslade Farm as a hideout during the planning and immediate aftermath of the robbery in 1963.

  • Train robber Bruce Reynolds

    Great Train Robber Bruce Reynolds at Oakley Village Hall, Buckinghamshire, during a village fete. The robbers used nearby Leatherslade Farm as a hideout during the planning and immediate aftermath of the robbery in 1963.

  • Bruce Reynolds meets John Woolley

    Great Train Robber Bruce Reynolds (right) meets former police officer John Woolley at Oakley Village Hall, Buckinghamshire, during a village fete. Mr Woolley discovered the robbers had been using nearby Leatherslade Farm as a hideout during the planning and immediate aftermath of the robbery in 1963.

  • London Bruce Reynolds and son

    Great train robber Bruce Reynolds (right) with his son Nick arriving at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich , London, visiting friend and former accomplice Ronnie Biggs. *...Reynolds, 70, who was known to be the mastermind behind the 2.6 million robbery, was also sentenced to 30 years. Earlier Biggs had an emotional reunion with his former girlfriend on his sixth day in hospital. Raimunda Rothen, 54, flew over from her home in Switzerland, to be by her former lover's bedside.

  • Bruce Reynolds

    Great train robber Bruce Reynolds pictured in London.

  • Crime - Court Appearance - Linslade, Bedfordshire

    Antique dealer Bruce Reynolds leaves Linslade, Bedfordshire, handcuffed to a guard after being remanded in custody, accused of being concerned in the Great Train Robbery in 1963.

  • Crime - Book Launch - London

    Bruce Reynolds (left) and Buster Edwards, two of the Great Train Robbers, at a reception for the launch of the book telling their story of the 1963 Great Train Robbery.

  • Crime - Court Appearance - Linslade

    Hhandcuffed to two police officers Bruce Reynolds arrives at Linslade, Bedfordshire, who was remanded for a third time, accused of being concerned in the Great Train Robbery in 1963. He was remanded in custody until 4/12/68 after a two minute hearing

  • Crime - Great Train Robbery - London

    Bruce Reynolds, one of the suspected robbers involved in the Great Train Robbery

  • Crime - Court Appearance - Linslade, Bedfordshire

    Bruce Reynolds at Linslade, Bedfordshire, who was remanded for a third time, accused of being concerned in the Great Train Robbery in 1963. He was remanded in custody until 4/12/68 after a two minute hearing

  • British Crime - Robbery - The Great Train Robbery - London - 1963

    Wanted in connection with the Great Train Robbery: (L-R) Bruce Richard Reynolds, Frances Reynolds, Barbara Maria Daly and John Thomas Daly

  • British Crime - Robbery - The Great train Robbery - London - 1979

    From left to right: Buster Edwards, Tommy Wiseby, Jim White, Bruce Reynolds, Roger Cordrey, Charles Wilson and Jim Hussey, the seven men involved in the Great train Robbery of 1963.

  • Social Biggs/Reynolds filer

    Bruce Reynolds at Linslade, Bedfordshire, who was remanded for a third time, accused of being concerned in the Great Train Robbery in 1963. He was remanded in custody until 4/12/68 after a two minute hearing. 28/12/68: The case will be heard in January 1969. * 8/8/99: Reynolds, one of the guests at the 70th birthday party of Ronnie Biggs, 36 years to the day since the infamous crime which made their name. Biggs, who escaped from Wandsworth Prison in 1965, is reported to be hosting a birthday party at his modest home in Rio de Janeiro, where he has lived beyond the clutches of the British legal system for more than 20 years. 6/5/01: Robbery mastermind Reynolds, who the Sun newspaper said had flown out to Rio as part of the newspaper's mission to return exiled Ronnie Biggs to British justice after 35 years on the run. The newspaper said a private plane it had chartered to bring the robber back would be touching down in Brazil and said Biggs had applied for a temporary passport in his own name which would allow him to travel back to Britain. As well as Biggs' former associate, the Sun said a curry, a six-pack of beer and a jar of Marmite for Biggs were also on board.

  • London Great train robbers

    Roger Cordrey; Buster Edwards and Bruce Reynolds (l-r) three of the Great Train Robbers of 1963 outside Waterloo station, London. They are about to make a car trip to Southhampton to publicise their book.

  • SILVERSTONE Car/Reynolds

    A 1963 Ford Lotus Cortina, a former vehicle of Bruce Reynolds, used as a getaway car in the Great Train Robbery, at the Coys International Historic Festival at Silverstone today (Sat). Photo by Tom Hevezi.

  • Crime - Funeral - Streatham Cemetary, South London

    Buster Edwards (left white hair) and Bruce Reynolds (on crutches) two of the great train robbers amongst the mourners attending the funeral of the robber's so called treasurer Charlie Wilson, after he was shot dead in Spain.

  • CRIMES-TRAIN-GLASGOW-LONDON

    Picture taken 08 August 1963 at Cheddington station, showing the Glasgow-London Royal mail train, which was attacked in the night by 15 armed robbers, including Ronnie Biggs, the right-hand of the 'brain' Bruce Reynolds, who stole 120 bags containing 5 million dollars, mostly in used bank notes, near Bridego Bridge north of London. The 'Great Train Robbery' of the Glasgow-London Royal Mail train in Buckinghamshire is one of the biggest hold-up in British history. (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Roger Cordrey

    18th July 1979: The Great Train Robbers, Roger Cordrey, Bruce Reynolds and Buster Edwards, at Waterloo Station, London, ready to go on a book promotion tour. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

  • Great Train Robbers

    Photos issued by Scotland Yard, 27th August 1963, of great train robbers Bruce Reynolds (left) and Roy James in the aftermath of the 2.6 million pound train robbery committed on 8th August 1963. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

  • Great Train Robbers

    The Great Train Robbers, left to right: Buster Edwards, Tom Wisbey, Jim White, Bruce Reynolds, Roger Cordrey, Charlie Wilson and Jim Hussey, with copies of their book 'The Train Robbers'. Original Publication: People Disc - HD0011 (Photo by Michael Fresco/Getty Images)

  • Reynolds Trial

    Bruce Reynolds, leader of the gang, which committed the 2.6 million pound 'Great Train Robbery' in August 1963, outside Linslade Court, Buckinghamshire, 18th November 1968. Since the robbery, Reynolds had been on the run abroad, before returning to Britain, where he was tried and sentenced to ten years in jail. (Photo by Aubrey Hart/Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

  • British Crime - Robbery - The Great Train Robbery - Leatherslade - 1963

    A police-car escorts the lorry and two Land Rovers, which police believe the bandits carried much or all of their haul after the 2.6 million pound mail train robbery, out of Leatherslade Farm, Oakley, Bukinghamshire, where the gang hid after the crime.

  • Crime - The Great Train Robbery - Cheddington - 1963

    The coaches of the train involved in the 2.5 million mail robbery - the "Great Train Robbery" - under police guard at Cheddington Station, Buckinghamshire, in August 1963.

  • Crime - The Great Train Robbery - Cheddington - 1963

    Glass scattered on the floor of one of two vans which, with a giant diesel locomotive, were uncoupled from an overnight Glasgow-Euston mail train and robbed near Cheddington, Buckingham. The gang got away with 2.6 million pounds.

  • Great Train Robbery Exhibition

    Thames Valley police handout photo of part of the 2.5 million stolen by the Great Train Robbers forty years ago, that went on display today at an exhibition at Thames Valley Police's museum in Sulhamstead, near Reading.

  • Great Train Robbery memorabilia auction

    Undated handout photo. Pictures from George Kidner auctioneers of memorabilia relating to the 1963 Great Train Robbery.

  • Great Train Robbery Exhibition

    Thames Valley police handout photo of the stretch of track where the Great Train Robbers commited their audacious crime forty years ago. The photo, along with evidence siezed by police, went on display today at an exhibition at Thames Valley Police's museum in Sulhamstead, near Reading.

  • Great Train Robbery memorabilia auction

    Undated handout photo. Pictures from George Kidner auctioneers of memorabilia relating to the 1963 Great Train Robbery.

  • Great Train Robbery memorabilia auction

    Undated handout photo. Picture from George Kidner auctioneers of memorabilia relating to the 1963 Great Train Robbery.

  • Great Train Robbery Exhibition

    Handout photo of some of the evidence found by police searching for the Great Train Robbers - at their hide out at Leatherslade Farm, Buckinghamshire - following the audacious 2.5 million raid. Thames Valley Police have opened a new exhibition, at their museum near Reading to mark the 40th anniversary of the robbery, on the night of August 8, 1963.

  • Crime - Great Train Robbery

    "The Farm House of Secrets". This is the hide-out used by the Great Train Robbery bandits, which was found by Scotland Yard detectives when they swooped on the lonely brick-built cottage located at Leatherslade Farm, Oakley, Buckinghamshire, about 23 miles from Cheddington, the spot where the giant haul was taken from the hijacked diesel train and its two postal office carriages last week. There was no money and the gang had gone, but empty mail bags were scattered about in the building whose former tenants moved away about three weeks ago. The village of Oakley is on the B-4011 road between Thame and Bicester and is close to Brill.

  • Great train robbers get 307 years

    A van carrying men sentenced for the Great Train Robbery pass through Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. Twelve men found guilty in the lengthy trial were today sentenced by Mr Justice Edmund Davies to a total of 307 years imprisonment. Seven each received 30 years, two are to serve 25 years, one 24, another 20, and the twelfth man 3 years.

  • Great Train Robbery Exhibition

    The police record sheet of Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs. Thames Valley Police have opened a new exhibition at their museum near Reading, to mark the 40th anniversary of the audacious 2.5 million robbery which happened on the night of August 8, 1963. .

  • Great Train Robbery/Ronald Biggs

    The scene outside Wandsworth Jail in South London, with police working on the lorry used in the escape from the prison of Ronald Biggs, serving 30 years in connection with the Great Train Robbery and three other prisoners. Biggs is expected to arrive back in the UK at 11am Monday May 7, 2001 after 35 years in exile.

  • Great Train Robbery/Leatherslade

    The house at Leatherslade Farm near Brill, Buckinghamshire, hide out of the gang which carried out the 2.6 million pound Great mail Train Robbery.