Blandford’s Great Train Robbery occurred back in March 1917 when large quantities of chocolate bars went missing from an automatic vending machine on Blandford railway station platform. For some time past, the machine had been robbed by washers and tin discs being used instead of pennies to extract chocolate bars. On one occasion as many as 60 washers were found in the machine.
As a result seven Blandford boys were summonsed for stealing chocolate. They were Thomas & George Shave, Oliver & John Turner, Harry Blandford, William Neale and Edward Tanswell. Evidence was given by Police Sergeant Otter and railway booking clerk, Mr Wood.
The Bench considered the case to be a serious one. Oliver & John Turner, George Shave, William Neale and Edward Tanswell were bound over to be of good behaviour for 12 months and each ordered to pay five shillings (25p) towards costs. Thomas Shave was ordered to receive three strokes of the birch and to pay seven shillings & sixpence costs (37.5p). As Harry Blandford was too old to receive the birch, he was fined one pound. Cyril Archer, another lad, was charged with a similar offence. The railway booking clerk had detected the lad committing the offence and Police Sergeant Otter said that Archer had admitted using the tin discs which he had cut up in Mr Paine’s workshop. Pieces of tin from which the discs were cut were found on the floor of Mr Paine’s shop. Cyril Archer was remanded in custody for a week.
Source: Blandford in the Great War by Nicci Brown (2019)