LOCAL HISTORY TWO : April 29th 1971 is a day l will never forget!

Monday 6 April 2020

Here is Brenda Treacher’s dramatic account of a memorable day in Boreham Wood.  Brenda now runs our Friends group. Not a Friend of the Museum? Join here.

April 29th 1971 is a day l will never forget!

“I was 23 years old and working as Chief Cashier at Barclays Bank, Shenley Road, Boreham Wood. It was a job l loved, friendly customers to meet every day, supportive colleagues who often socialised together and a happy working environment, life was good. Then suddenly it all changed on 29th April 1971 the day that the bank was raided.

Every Thursday morning as regular as clockwork Securicor would turn up just before 10am to collect almost £30,000 in cash to take to Elliott's in the Elstree Way for their wages department to make up the wages for the weekly paid workers. When l saw the van pull up outside l walked through to the back of the bank to give the signal for the money to come up from the vaults, as l did so an axe came crashing through the glass pane on the door between the banking hall and the working section, the latch was opened and in came a man with a shotgun who blasted at the Chief Clerks booth and at my till where l had been standing moments ago, shot went flying everywhere.

I looked back into the banking hall and saw Mr Crump, from Elstree Rural District Council, being hit over the head with a cosh by a man with a stocking over his face. I ran like Mary Peters out to the machine room at the back of the bank shouting “Raid! Raid!”, and hid under a desk. Suddenly a large pair of boots were walking towards me, l froze thinking it was one of the robbers, but it turned out to be a Securicor guard taking cover with us. My friend who was much braver than me had a side window open looking outside to see what was happening and relaying this on the phone to the manager who was safe in his office upstairs.

The robbers took the trolley with the money on it, threw the cash into their vehicle and made off towards the Elstree Way. Everyone was very shaken, the Police came and took statements and fingerprints and a few of the younger girls were taken home to recover from the shock. However Elliott's needed their wages, so myself and another colleague went into the vaults and made up another consignment. Two hours later the bank reopened and we were back serving customers. Thursday was always a busy day with local companies collecting wages, and it was also late night opening so it was almost 7pm before we got away that day. Many of us went straight to the Queens Head at Sandridge for a drink and to calm down and take stock of our adventurous day.

There were many differing reports in local and national newspapers, not all were accurate, there were lots of rumours flying about as to who the perpetrators were, but no one was ever prosecuted for the robbery which had left so many of us a little more apprehensive on a Thursday morning at 10am. 29th April is also memorable for me in a happier way as it was my wedding day one year later.”

Reading the newspaper reports the number of robbers varied, the people attacked are different, and the effects of the violent gun shot are downplayed.  Fake News 1971 style!

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