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Fun games to keep kids (of all ages) entertained at home

Fun Games to Keep Kids (of all ages) Entertained at Home

We know it’s a tough time for everyone at the moment, and it’s hard to keep everyone entertained whilst at home. Here are some ideas to help keep you busy and having fun over the next few weeks!

Science Experiments

With the school’s closed, getting involved with some science experiments can be a great way of keeping kids engaged. Even if you don’t have children to look after, these are a lot of fun to try!

Mentos and Diet Coke

Mentos and Coke illustration. A fun at home activity

Everyone knows this home science classic! It’s great fun and fantastic way of teaching kids about reactions. For extra points, you can even build a set of a volcano around a bottle of coke in the middle!

Make Your Own Slime

Using nothing more than PVA glue, bicarbonate of soda, food colouring and contact lens solution you can make some really fun slime to play with. This is another fantastic way of teaching kids about reactions, as they can observe how adding the contact lens solution can completely change the texture of the glue. We’ll send you over to national treasures Holly and Phil who’ll show you how this one is done. 

https://www.itv.com/thismorning/home-garden/how-to-make-your-own-slime

Create a Water Cycle

Be careful with this one, it will need some adult supervision as it requires hot water and a match. But it’s a really cool way of showing the water cycle, how clouds form and how rainfalls. Check this video out below on how to do it!

Card Games

Card games are a great way of staying entertained at home. Everyone has a deck of cards and there’s a near endless list of different games you can play. Whether there’s 2 or 6 of you at home a deck of cards can keep you entertained for hours.

Now everyone knows the classic games like “Go Fish!” and cheat, so here’s a couple of unusual games that you might not have heard of before to keep you entertained:

Spit

Spit is a fun and fast-paced game for two people. It’s an exciting mix of Solitaire, Snap and Speed and definitely gets the heart racing. We would try and explain the rules, but we feel the folks from Bicycle (who actually make playing cards) will do a much better job! You can check that out here:

https://bicyclecards.com/how-to-play/spit/

Golf

Golf is a card game that’s more luck than skill but you need to make quick decisions and pay attention to what your opponent is trying to do. Each person gets dealt 6 cards which they place face down in two rows in front of them. At the start of their go, they can turn over two of the cards and are given the option of swapping one of their cards with either the upturned one in the middle or one you can’t see from the deck in the middle.

The goal is to have your cards add up to a smaller total than your opponent. Aces score 1 and normal cards score their number, Jack and Queen score 10 points, Kings 0 and Jokers score -2 points. If any of your columns have 2 of the same card then the numbers cancel each other out and you score 0. If you’re a little lost, here’s a video to explain.

Board Games

Pandemic

Appropriate for these times, we enjoy Pandemic because everyone works together as a team! This means that you win and lose together, so there should be fewer family arguments over the outcome. There’s quite a bit of set-up involved, but once you get going Pandemic is easy to play and great fun. The story is that there’s been a global outbreak of a disease and you need to work together to eradicate the infection and develop a cure. You travel all over the world creating disease centres and trying to fight back the virus. It’s challenging and requires you to think a few steps ahead to win!

EXIT! The Game

These are Escape Rooms you can play in the home! If you’ve still got that escape room itch, then these are a great way of experiencing the same thrill and intensity, whilst staying safe at home. They have a variety of stories and whilst sadly, we haven’t been able to play them all, we’re sure they all live up to the same high standard. One of the most intriguing tales we’re yet to try is their take on Murder on the Orient Express. “Dead Man on the Orient Express” looks to include everything great about escape rooms. You have to race against the clock to piece together the clues and solve the murder. It’s certainly once that we’ll be picking up during lockdown.

Journal 29

These fiendishly difficult books only require a pencil and a smartphone. Work your way through some very cryptic puzzles that utilise the book and often need you to go back to solve the puzzle you’re working on. There’s also a second book in the series called revelations, which is even trickier and has had us pulling our hair out! Both books are highly engaging and you can easily while away the hours playing them.

You can pick them up here.

Easter Egg Hunt/Scavenger hunt

With Easter just around the corner, you could make an easter egg hunt! Hide the eggs around your house and leave little notes guiding your children to the eggs. You could also combine this with the activity below and make an easter egg escape room, where the kids have to solve the challenges, find keys etc. before they find the easter eggs.

If you’re lucky enough to have a garden make sure you make full use of the spaces available to you, but try not to leave your chocolate in the sun (something we’ve sadly learnt from experience).

Make your Own Escape Room

An example puzzle for a home escape room

This isn’t as hard as it seems and can be great fun! Making an escape room is a great way to get creative and you can even throw in some school topics to keep it educational. 

The beauty of creating an escape room at home is that you can use what’s around you. You can buy some padlocks and use those, but you don’t have to! You could change the password to one of the computers, you could be the guardian of a door and require the right password to let people in. If you’ve got an old store cupboard you can even lock that with a puzzle inside and hide the key. There are loads of opportunities around the house to lock things up and hide away puzzles!

Some fun puzzle ideas include: 

  • Using Music, 
  • Hiding something in the washing machine or dishwasher (remember to empty it before you use it again!), 
  • Jewellery Boxes are a great place to hide things,
  • Blacklight/UV torch. Most escape rooms we’ve played have involved “invisible ink” and a UV torch,
  • If you got a safe or filing cabinet it’s easy enough to change the combination and hide something inside.
  •  

Let us know the stories and themes you come up with for your escape rooms!

Our friends at Pirate Escape have also made some great escape rooms you can play at home too. You can check those out on their website.

Create a Secret Code

Did you ever pass notes across the classroom at school? What about if you had your own language or code that no one else could decipher? A fun thing to keep the kids occupied is coming up with a secret language or code.

Parlour Games

Again there are some classics here that everyone has already played like Charades, but here’s a couple of different ones that maybe not everyone will have done in the past.

6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon

This is a fun game for all you movie buffs out there. Based on an interview where Kevin Bacon said that he’d either worked with everyone in Hollywood or worked with someone they’d worked with. The goal is to take an actor or actress and using as few films as possible, connect them with Kevin Bacon. You can check out an example on our Facebook page here, the winner is the person who can connect the stars using the fewest films.

7's

7’s is simple, you go around in a circle counting up the numbers (1,2,3) – the only catch is you can’t say any number that has a 7 in or is a multiple of 7. E.g. 7, 17, 35. Where it gets tricky is you can say anything in the number’s place, which leads to some pranks. Another catch is if there are back to back 7’s e.g. 56 then 57, the order reverses. So make sure you stay on your toes particularly in the 70s.

We hope you’re all staying safe and hopefully we’ve given you some inspiration for some fun activities around the house. Let us know if you give any of these activities a try! Best wishes to you all and we look forward to seeing you on the other side of this.

The Story Behind Where’s Wally

The Story Behind "Where's Wally?"

One of everyone’s first and favourite puzzles when they were a child, were the iconic Where’s Wally books. For whatever reason, we could all be occupied for hours trying to find the elusive boy in a red and white striped jumper. But why do we find it so engrossing? And how did Martin Handford, the creator, come up with the idea?

In case there’s anybody out there who doesn’t know what Where’s Wally is (we hope the rock you’ve been living under is lovely), it’s a series of children books showing a detailed drawing of a crowd. The goal is to find the bespectacled Wally, who wears a striped red and white jumper and is hidden in plain sight somewhere on the page. The game is surprisingly difficult and is a great way of keeping children quiet for a couple of hours!

Martin Handford is the illustrator behind the series. He began drawing crowds of people from the age of 5, inspired by the toy soldiers he played with. He always enjoyed drawing when he was younger. Whilst other children would go outside to play he would prefer to stay inside, use his imagination and draw (Candlewick Press). He worked for 3 years in an insurance office to pay for a college art degree from the University of creative arts.  After finishing his degree he worked as an illustrator and specialised in crowd scenes.

Album Cover

Handford’s first major work was the album cover for The Vapors album “Magnets” (seen below). The album’s lyrics explore the assassinations of the Kennedys and Handford took this as inspiration for his design. He created a scene where a crowd of people responding to an assassination. The core group forming the shape of an eye. Hidden in the crowd is the assassin. Can you spot them?

The album cover from the Vapors album Magents. This is the origins of Where's Wally

"That's who he is - an afterthought"

This album cover is clearly the beginnings of the Where’s Wally concept!

5 years later, Handford came up with the distinctive figure of Wally to provide his crowd scenes with context and a focal point. He says “that’s who he [Wally] is – an afterthought” (Candlewick Press). The character was drawn in after the main crowd scenes and wasn’t originally the main reason for the drawings.

“As it turns out, the fans were more interested in the character than in the crowd scenes.” You can say that again! Wally’s peculiar features and characteristics are known globally, with versions of Where’s Wally available in over 37 different  languages. The name of the lead character changes depending on the country. For example in North America, he is known as Waldo and in Germany, he’s called Walter.

Handford describes Wally as a global traveller and likes to imagine that he’s not the smartest person, which is how he ends up in so many hapless scenarios. Each drawing takes the creator roughly 8 weeks to complete and he says that there’s no method behind where he puts Wally. “As I work through the picture, I add Wally when I come to what I feel is a good place to hide him” (Scholastic).

That hasn’t stopped people trying to work out if the placement is truly random! Ben Blatt of Slate magazine conducted his own mathematical research into where Wally is. Under the assumption that true randomness is almost impossible to achieve, he attempted to find the best method of tracking him down. You can check out his findings in this article.

Showing where Wally and the different characters are

Wimmelbuchs

But why do we find it so entertaining? Well, the idea isn’t new, the Wally style images are known as Wimmelbilderbuch. It’s a German word (how did you guess!) that literally means hidden object book. These types of books have been very popular with German and Dutch children for hundreds of years. An example of earlier books would be Ali Mitgutsch’s “Mein Wimmelbuch” series. These don’t have the puzzle aspect of Where’s Wally, but depict similar scenes of large crowds, with plenty of things going on in the background. The idea is that you come up with your own story of what’s happening based on what you see.

A 1998 paper by Judith Graham confirms this, stating that through the intense searching readers are encouraged to create stories about those in the pictures. This makes the books challenging, rewarding and engrossing. Caroline Horn of the Bookseller says “The books are wonderful because they’re very quirky, very colourful, and you can get hooked”.

Another aspect that makes Wimmel books so engaging is that there’s no barrier to language. This means that young children can try to understand the story. The lack of language barrier is also what’s led Where’s Wally to be popular in so many countries.

Global Appeal

The global popularity of Where’s Wally is truly astonishing. The books have sold more than 73 million copies (The Guardian) worldwide. Wally is also one of the most popular Halloween costumes around. That may partly be that it’s so easy to grab a striped jumper and some glasses. In fact, in 2017, no less than 4,626 people were able to get hold of a Where’s Wally outfit. They gathered in Nagasaki to break the world record for the largest gathering of people dressed as Wally (Guinness World Records).

What started as a means of providing context to Martin Handford’s illustrations has grown into one of the most recognisable characters in the world. Handford’s fun picture puzzles have engrossed children and adults alike for years. If you haven’t tried your hand at Where’s Wally before, or if you’ve been hit with some real nostalgia make sure you check out your nearest charity shop. You can also buy copies on Amazon. We’ll have some in our front room for the next month, so whilst you’re waiting for your escape rooms you can try your hand at finding Wally yourself! We’d also recommend taking a look at some of the other Wimmelbook’s around, particularly Ali Mitgutshch’s and Thé Tjong-Khing’s “The Birthday Cake Mystery”.

Valentine's Date Night Newcastle

Newcastle Date Nights

The Best Date Nights in Newcastle!

With Valentine’s day just around the corner here’s a list of our favourite date night’s around Newcastle. We’ve got a bit of everything from crazy golf to escape rooms!

Decoration at Ghetto Golf in Newcastle

A recent addition to Newcastle’s Hoult’s Yard, Ghetto Golf is a unique venue not to be missed! We all love crazy golf, but Ghetto Golf has taken it to the next level. You enter into an ultraviolet paradise, with bright colours and some very “unique” decoration. There should be no awkward silences on a date here as there’s plenty to talk about. They have a full range of cocktails and food, available from the wonderfully named Apocolypse Cow restaurant.

If your up for a laugh and enjoy crazy golf, then Ghetto Golf is the place for you!

Check it out here: https://www.ghettogolf.co.uk/newcastle/ 

Bowling for grown-ups! If you love bowling but families and screaming children are encroaching on your date night vibe, then visit Lane 7! They have a full cocktail bar, bowling, beer pong, pool and even karaoke. The time flies by once you’re there – so what are you waiting for?

Be bowled over: https://lane7.co.uk/newcastle/

Everyman truly is a unique venue. Sit back and enjoy the latest films in comfort and style! A beautifully decorated venue, which takes the usual cinema experience and adds comfy sofa style seating, a cocktail bar and food served at your seats! Everyman set out to bring a quality night at the pictures to Newcastle, and we certainly think they’ve done that.

Newcastle’s home of stand-up comedy has been a date night favourite for years! There’s plenty of different shows available throughout the week, with a mixture of new blood and seasoned vets. There may be some audience participation, so don’t be shy! The Wednesday night show, Red Raw, is a comedy open mic night which shows performers who are just getting started and is only £3 a ticket.

On Valentine’s Day this year though will be the regular Friday show which is always worth checking out!

La Chocolatrice Newcastle Valentine's Day Date Night

A brand new venue set just next door to our Westgate Road site, La Chocolatrice offers some hands-on chocolate making classes. Zoë will guide you through making truffles, flakes and decorating chocolate. You’ll get a little messy over the 2 hour class and end up with chocolate everywhere. Whether you’re just excited to eat the chocolate or want to learn about the best way of making it, La Chocolatrice is the place to come for an interactive date.

Start your chocolate love story.

EXIT Newcastle

If you’re after something unique, then our live escape games could be the way to go! You’ll find everything you need to know about your date in 60 minutes. We’re open till 11:00 every night and have a variety of different rooms and puzzles to sink your teeth into. Whether you’re into horror, fancy yourselves as Newcastle’s next heroes or want to be Bonnie and Clyde and rob a jewellery store we can give you a heart-pounding date night!

What have you got planned for Valentine’s Day this year? Have we missed a great date night off the list? Let us know!

The Best Escape Rooms in Edinburgh

Our Favourite Escape Rooms in…Edinburgh

As you may have guessed we love escape rooms, and for purely research purposes,  we’ve played loads of games. One of our favourite places to visit for puzzling is Edinburgh! It’s not too far away from Newcastle and has a fantastic range of escape rooms. In no particular order here are some of our favourites:

Puzzles in going for gold at padlox escape room in Edinburgh

Padlox wasn’t an escape room we’d heard too much about before visiting. All we knew really was that it was slightly out of town in Leith and that we were doing an Olympic themed game called Going for Gold. The story for Going for Gold is really unique, the year is 2028 and the nation of Nova Patria has just competed in its first Olympics. They’ve done extremely well…suspiciously well in fact. Your job is to uncover the truth about their incredible results. You work your way through the world anti-doping lab, and see if you can uncover the truth behind the fledgeling nation’s remarkable performance.

We really enjoyed this game; there were some unique puzzles, a lovely system of keeping you on track and the story really is unique. The ending was really satisfying as all the pieces come together and open the final box. Although it’s out of the centre of Edinburgh, we’d definitely make the trip out to Padlox and we’re excited to see what game they come out with next!

Locked in Edinburgh, the Cutting room escape room

Not exactly a surprise pick, LockedIn has been voted the #1 Escape Room in Europe and even the 13th best in the world. We believe all the rooms at LockedIn are well worth a visit! First of all Summerhall (the building the games are set in) is a wonderful building to visit on its own. It’s a huge location spanning a couple of postcodes, with plenty of history and some interesting exhibits to visit too.

But obviously the main reason you’re there are the exciting escape rooms. The attention to detail throughout the 3 rooms is incredible, and these games certainly have some of our favourite sets and props. Jackie and Heidi are great at putting in props that are only relevant to that game. For example in the Secret Lab (our favourite), you are locked in a (you guessed it) Secret Lab from the 1970s. Everything in the room is, therefore, fitting for a lab, and most importantly technology available in the 1970s. You won’t find a HD monitor in here, and this helps to make the game that little bit more immersive. The clue system, for example, is a dot-matrix printer which ticks away if you need any assistance.

There are loads of puzzles to solve in the secret lab so we’d definitely recommend taking a slightly larger team than normal, but it should keep you occupied for the full hour.

Another game, The Cutting Room has some of the best set design we’ve seen in an escape room, with really high-quality props and a couple of surprises along the way. Set in the same fictional world as the Secret Lab, the story is in-depth and engaging. We found some of the puzzles really tricky, and some which we probably made too difficult – but if you’ve got a few escape rooms under your belt you should be fine!

Their third escape room, the Distillery room is an exact replica of the Pickering’s Gin distillery that is also located in Summerhall. There are obviously a few extra padlocks thrown in, and sadly no actual gin but the authentic set makes for a really engaging escape room.

Overall, LockedIn’s attention to detail is second to none, and this leads to truly immersive and exciting escape rooms.

If you enjoy escape rooms then we’d certainly recommend a pilgrimage up to Edinburgh! We haven’t played all the escape rooms up there so let us know if there are any we should check out!

The Best Places to Eat and Drink Near EXIT

The Best Places to Eat and Drink near EXIT

We often get asked “Where are the best places to grab a bite or a drink after an escape room?” Our answer is here! Here’s a list of our favourite spots nearby!

We’re very fortunate at Westgate Road to have 3 lovely pubs only a couple of minutes away. The Forth, The Town Wall and Gunner Tavern are all easily accessible via Pink Lane and are well worth a visit whether you’d like a dink or a proper meal.

Gunner Tavern Newcastle

Recently completed, the Tavern used to be Gotham nightclub but has undergone a complete makeover and is now a rustic pub. With bold greens, wood floors and some quirky design it’s a really ice pub to sit in. There’s even a massive bay window table with comfy seating all around for large group. Gunner Tavern sets it’s self apart from the other pubs on a list with a nice range of cocktails including some delicious Espresso Martini’s, using coffee from the nearby by Pink Lane coffee company.

Part of the original fortifying wall around Newcastle (hence the name) the Town Wall is a lovely pub. The building is Grade 2 listed and has been mentioned in town records from before 1280, making it one of the oldest buildings in Newcastle. The fish finger sandwich is one of our favourite things on the menu and is a perfect bite after saving Newcastle in one of our escape rooms.

Located on Pink Lane, the Forth is a 2 minute walk from EXIT. The Forth has good food and a wide variety of beers, but it’s best feature is the roof terrace upstairs. The terrace is a wonderful space and a great place to grab a drink. During the winter the fires inside keep you warm, and on a busy weekend there’s a fantastic atmosphere inside the pub. The Monday night quiz is great fun too, and could be the perfect accompaniment to an escape room!

Food From Coop Chicken House In Newcastle

If you like chicken, then COOP chicken house is the place for you. They serve flame roasted chicken, with a variety delicious of sides and a huge range of hot sauces. It has a relaxed atmosphere, and is a great place to get a big table and share altogether. On a Sunday you can get involved with wing heaven – all you can eat wings for £10. As we’re big fans of challenges, we’re keen to see if you can beat the current record of 64.5 wings!

If you’re after something quick and tasty then look no further than Zapatista. Zaps has been a popular and ever present feature of our staff room, with their burrito’s long being a staff lunch favourite. Queue up, and get a burrito with your choice of rice, filling, beans, salsa and any extras all wrapped up in a warm tortilla wrap. If you don’t have long after your escape room, or even if you do, then we’d definitely recommend a trip around the corner to Zapatista. With locations on both Grainger Street and Ridley place there’s a Zapatista close to both our sites.

Stack

If you’re with your family or friends and everyone wants to eat something different then look no further than Stack. A variety of restaurants all in the shipping container square. everyone can pick their favourite and sit around the same table. Whether you’re looking for a burger, vegan food or and Indian Stack has you covered. Only a 10 minute walk away from our site at 32 St. Mary’s Place it’s a fantastic option if you’ve just finished Fiorella’s Cave or the Heist.

What are some of your favourite spots to grab a bite around Newcastle? Are any of them close to our escape rooms?

An image taken from Reservoir Dogs

The 8 Best Heist Movies

The 8 Best Heist Movies

With the arrival of our new escape room The Heist approaching, we’ve been researching what guarantees success in a Heist. Don’t be too alarmed! We have no plans to take our findings to the streets (yet). Instead, we’ve dived into the cinema vaults to pick our 8 favourite Heist films of all time.

An image taken from Reservoir Dogs

When we looked at films involving heists and major crime, Quentin Tarantino’s feature-length debut always seemed to top the list. Featuring an all-star cast and an unorthodox non-linear approach to storytelling Reservoir Dogs grips the viewer from the very start and doesn’t let go until long after the credits roll.

The film focuses on the aftermath of a diamond heist gone wrong. A fast response from the police causes a shootout and the crew scatters. The crew arrive one by one in the warehouse where most of the film is set. Paranoia sets in and tensions rise as the gang suspects a police officer is among them. Empire Magazine named Reservoir Dogs “the greatest independent film of all time”. It also has a huge cult following. In our opinion, this film is uncontested at number one.

A Poster for Heat starring Al Pacino and Robert De Niro

Michael Mann directs Robert De Niro and Al Pacino in this exhilarating movie about crime. De Niro plays professional thief Neil McCauley, and the film follows his crew through a series of thrilling armed robberies. After a heist on an armoured car goes wrong, the crew attracts the attention of Lieutenant Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) of the LAPD’s Major Crimes Unit. 

The film becomes an enthralling game of cat and mouse as the two men attempt to outwit each other. The viewer is constantly choosing who they think will win this game, and whether good will triumph over evil. Major highlights from Heat include a great soundtrack and an enthralling car chase leading to an outstanding face off in a restaurant.

When looking for more modern examples of Heist movies it’s hard to ignore Triple 9. In this gritty portrayal of the life criminals sign up to, lines blur between right and wrong. Crooked members of the police work alongside thieves to rob a safety deposit box for a Russian mafia boss. This leads to another robbery. They hatch a plan to ensure the crew escape successfully. They will use a Triple 9 call to distract he police from the robbery. A Triple 9 call means an officer is down the police will flock to this location at the opposite side of the city to the actual crime.

Things rarely go to plan and you will be left wondering about the loyalty of members of the crew as the story delves deeper. An interesting use of technology within the heist shows how both criminals and law enforcement are adapting in the 21st Century.

Box office superstar Leonardo Di Caprio stars in this unconventional science fiction film. Set within the architecture of the human mind, Inception delves deeper than any other film on this list. Whereas the majority of Heist films focus on the theft of diamonds or money, Inception is the story of two “extractors” who infiltrate the subconscious of their targets and steal secrets relating to business espionage. 

Di Caprio’s character embarks on a seemingly impossible task to infiltrate his target’s mind by creating a dream within a dream. Success on his mission will allow his criminal record to be wiped clean. Lines blur leaving the viewer constantly guessing if they are watching a dream segment or if the characters are awake. This makes for an immersive and thought-provoking experience and has led to a cult following of the film. Due to the complexity, many viewings may be necessary.

Hell or High Water Banner

This film isn’t as well known as some of the others that have made our list. Yet it’s ranked within the top ten movies of 2016.  It also gained critical acclaim after its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, making it a serious contender within the Heist genre.

Faced with the possibility of losing their ranch, two brothers begin to rob banks within West Texas. Their intention? Launder the money and keep ownership of their home. As the film progresses it becomes clear there is a difference in the brother’s personalities. A series of wild risks lead to the inevitable interest of Texas Rangers. Tension is constantly built throughout and a statewide pursuit is underway. Excellent cinematography shines throughout Hell or High Water and treats viewers to an awe-inspiring conclusion.

Poster for the Heist movie the Italian Job

No list about Heist movies would be complete without a nod to The Italian Job. Starring Michael Caine, the Italian Job is a British classic and has even been named the 27th Best British film of all time. Viewers are in for an enthralling balance of action and comedy as this Cockney gang plans a daring heist in Italy.

After involvement with the Italian Mafia, the gang plan to rob four million dollars worth of gold bullion from Turin. They use three iconic Mini Coopers to move the gold around the city and escape the Police. This leads to some amazing scenes, as the three little cars lead an intense chase through shopping centres and across roof-tops. The film ends on a teetering conclusion in the Swiss alps, leaving fans questioning the fate of the gang. More than fifty years after its release it’s still a must-watch!

This 2001 remake brings together an all-star cast for funny moments and an extremely clever robbery.

Ocean’s Eleven revolves around a preposterous plan: To rob the three biggest casinos in Las Vegas in one night. George Clooney assembles a crack team of ten criminals, each with unique and impressive skill-sets. Expect to see slick feats of sleight of hand and a journey of ups and downs which ultimately results in an effortless and enjoyable watching. A few sequels have been made for those who want more of the same, and they continue to feel fresh and worthy watches.

8. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

Screenshot from Dog Day Afternoon

Inspired by a bank robbery of the same decade, Dog Day Afternoon (DDA) takes a different approach to the Heist genre. Whilst most films on this list show crews committing robberies with surgical precision and take a hardened attitude towards its victims, DDA shows the opposite. Viewers are constantly reminded of the pressures of this kind of crime.  

As the film shows how a first-time offender and a group of empathetic individuals respond psychologically to the crimes they are committing. This is a refreshing change within the genre that resonates with those that watch. The National Film Registry film has since selected DDA for preservation.

So there you have it, our picks for our favourite Heist movies of all time! What are your favourites? Did we miss any from our list?

If you dream of completing a Heist of your own, check out our newest escape room the Heist here.

Team Building: Why You Should Choose Escape Games

Team Building: Why You Should Choose an Escape Game

This week we thought we’d take a look at team-building. Although plenty of people roll their eyes at the idea, we believe team-building is a crucial part of developing a successful team. Above all, we believe escape games are one of the best team building activities around!

A team building event enjoying themselves with NERF guns in our Volatile Laboratories Escape Game.

What is an Escape Game?

An escape game is a live experience that usually lasts 60 minutes. A team is locked into a room and given a variety of clues, riddles, puzzles and challenges to solve and (hopefully) escape the room. There’s usually a big goal along the way, whether it be defusing a bomb or retrieving an antidote for a deadly poison! Their history can be traced to some early puzzle-based computer games such as Myst, and Crimson Room which use a similar concept.

Why is an Escape Game ideal for team building?

“You can discover more about someone in an hour of play than a lifetime of conversation” Plato.

Escape games are a fantastic way of bringing your team together. They combine all the key elements of a successful team building event. Whether it be getting everyone out of the office for an hour or pushing your team to solve new challenges. In a live escape room, you’ll be able to see exactly how the team interact with each other. Similarly, you’ll see what your team’s skills are and where they shine. Here are just some of the ways escape games help get the most out of your team:

Goal Setting

In an escape game, your team has a clear goal. Setting clear goals is an excellent way to get the most out of your team. For example, you have 1 hour to solve the puzzles and escape. At the same time, you might have to look through the clues and find the identity of a murderer. As a result, all of your team are on the same page and working towards a common outcome. This can be extremely powerful! Hopefully, by seeing the focus this can give a group, your team will take this back to your office and work on clear goal-setting.

Completely Different!

“The most successful, memorable team-building events are ones that don’t feel like a day in the office”. Unless you’re a bomb squad or global adventurer escape games are something completely different to a day in the office. We take groups well out of their comfort zone and allow them to undertake a task that’s nothing like their day-to-day. By doing this, your colleagues become more engaged as you switch up their daily routines. Consequently, this helps you break down barriers in the group and bring your team together.

Improve Communication

To make it out of an escape room (particularly in good time) your team will need to communicate. Whether it’s 2 people working closely on an individual puzzle or letting the whole team know that you’ve found a clue – keeping in contact with your team is crucial. According to the project management institute, project managers spend 90% of their time in some form of communication. Therefore, it’s critically important that these skills are developed and worked upon. Escape rooms help encourage effective communication whilst keeping your team engaged and enjoying themselves! Another benefit to developing strong communication skills is that companies who communicate effectively are also 4.5 x’s more likely to keep hold of their best employees.

Assign Roles!

An important part of developing a strong team is making sure everyone knows their role. This allows a team to leverage their specialisations and abilities and work efficiently. Similarly, one of the things that separates the best groups through our games is they assign clear team roles. These teams know who’s good at finding things, who’s good at piecing together simpler puzzles and who has a mind for the abstract. As a result, they play to their strengths and fly through the games. By taking this lesson back to the office, you’ll see an increase in efficiency and performance of your team!

Test your team under pressure!

With only one hour on the clock and potentially the whole of Newcastle to save, our escape games certainly pile on the pressure. This intensity can help you see what your team are truly made of! If things go down to the wire and you’re still solving with seconds to spare, you’ll see who keeps a cool head and who begins to panic! By finding this out in an escape game, and not when it matters, you can understand and develop your team without having an impact on your business.

Solve problems

Problem-solving is a skill that is required at all levels of a business or team. Escape rooms require a team to solve a variety of problems put forward to them by the game. By solving problems in this collaborative manner, teams will be able to sharpen their skills and maybe start to look at things differently. Employees generally enjoy problem-solving activities and are engaged by them. Furthermore, research has shown that sink your teeth into a problem can help create ownership of tasks.

Competition

Escape game team building icon

If you like a bit of competition in the office we can set two teams up head to head and see who can escape first! This can add a bit more excitement to the day. Further, it can show you who shines under pressure and who’ll do anything to win. We even have scorecards which take you through what you did well and what you might need to work on. On top of this, competitive activities help encourage a results based outlook! So our escape game can really help get your team working for the same result.

It’s Fun!

Finally, the most important part of team building is making sure it’s fun! Happy employees are 31% more productive (HBR). Therefore, if you want to get the most out of your team it’s important to put a smile on their faces. We hope that by bringing your team together in a fun and engaging environment, you can help boost your team’s output and reach your company’s goals. One of the biggest comments we get about our rooms is how much fun they are and teams are often surprised about how much they enjoy the game.

Other Options

If you’re not convinced, that’s OK. Here are 3 activities that you can do in your office to help bond your team, and improve their skills:

1) Board Game Night

One of our favourite ways to bring our team together is through board game nights! The concept’s simple. Gather your team around, get some drinks in and play a board game or two. Which game? There are loads of different options here! A game like Pandemic is fantastic because you all have to work together! Hopefully, there’ll be fewer arguments if everyone’s on the same team! Something a bit more obscure could be Secret Hitler, a game which is based on lies and teamwork and will keep your team on its toes.

2) The Egg Drop Challenge

This is a quick activity that’s great fun and gets your team thinking and problem-solving. Give each team an egg, boiled or raw (if you’re looking for a real challenge), and a variety of items. They can only use the given items to protect their egg. Why do they need protecting? Well you’re going to drop them from a set height, and the winner is the team who’s egg stays intact! Some common materials here are toilet roll tubes, sponges and straws. A cool twist is that teams can also swap items with another group, adding negotiations to the proceedings.

3) Build your own escape room

Using a few padlocks and some handwritten clues  you can easily make a fun and engaging escape game yourself! This option also allows you to make the answers things that relate to your business, so you can help your team learn key things or even with onboarding.

There are also some great venues for team building events around Newcastle and we’d certainly recommend taking a look at these:

4) Lane 7

Lane 7 has it all. You can bowl, play ping pong, mini-golf or even do karaoke! All with a bar, food and no kids after 7:00! If you want your team to have fun and let your hair down, then Lane 7 is one of the best places to be in Newcastle.

5) La Choclatrice

La Choclatrice is a brand new venue in Newcastle. It’s a chocolate making experience that lasts 2 hours for a team of up to 10 of you. It’s a great way of breaking the ice and having some relaxed time out of the office. On top of this, you’ll work on your attention detail and taking instructions from your wonderful teacher Zoe!

6) Go Karting!

Go Karting is a team-building classic! Slip into a racing suit, strap into a go-kart and race around to see who’s the fastest. It’s a great way of competing within your group and always has some funny moments. Team-Sport in Newcastle is a fantastic venue. They offer a variety of different race types, which means you can get the most from the experience, and tailor the day to suit your needs.

If you’re interested in organising a team-building event with us then you can get in touch with our team by email or over the phone. Even if you just have a couple of questions we’ll be happy to help. You can also see a little more info about our team-building days here!

Whether you do decide to hold your corporate day with us or elsewhere, we hope you have a great time and that you see an improvement in your team.

Halloween Nights

Newcastle’s Spookiest Halloween Nights (2019)

Newcastle’s a great place to be around Halloween, and this year there’s plenty of creative and fun things to do! Here our some of our favourite (and scariest) Halloween events for 2019.

This year Psycho Path returns with an event they’re calling Fear Ground! It’s bigger than ever, with 4 different horror attractions spread across 700 acres of Farmland at Lintz Hall farm in Durham. You can book in for any day between the 11th and 31st of October for the horror experience, and we would recommend warm clothes as some of the events take place outdoors!

There’s also a less intense, child-friendly evening on the 19th for anyone looking for more of a family-friendly event!

Book in and check what’s in store:

https://www.psycho-path.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/PsychoPathHorror/

Beamish Hall is set to host another frightful experience. Terror in the trees is an immersive horror event, where you proceed through an abandoned circus which is home to a group of clowns hell-bent on spreading mass hysteria. It certainly sounds terrifying! Though anyone with a huge fear of clowns is probably best looking at one of the other events on this list!

https://www.beamish-hall.co.uk/terror-in-the-trees/

On the 26th October, Tyneside Cinema is opening all four screens for an evening of horror movies. They’re showing some classic films beyond midnight with some starting as late (or as early) as 04:50 am. If you enjoy your horror movies and would like to experience some of the classics such as Carrie, or 28 Days Later on the big screen, then keep your diary free on the 26th and book in!

Halloween All-Nighter

The immensely popular Kroud Karaoke at Stack is turning up the volume for Halloween. On the 26th October, dress up and turn up to the group karaoke event! They’ll be playing all your Halloween favourites, so if you’re looking for a “Thriller” of an evening prepare your voice and belt out your favourite tunes.

https://www.facebook.com/events/stack-newcastle/kroud-karaoke-halloween-special-stack-newcastle/482330772622396/

Steve McQueen on a motorbike from the movie, the Great Escape

The Greatest Escapes!

The Greatest Escapes

We have passion for everything escape related, so we decided to take a look at some of the greatest escapes from history for some inspiration and to share some fascinating tales!

Steve McQueen on a motorbike from the movie, the Great Escape

1. Escape From Alcatraz

An image of Alcatraz Island

In 1962 three convicts set out to escape from the notorious Alcatraz prison in San Francisco. Alcatraz was world-famous, not just for the prisoners it contained, but also for the high level of security and the isolation of the facility. It even served as inspiration for Azkaban, the wizard prison in the Harry Potter books. Alcatraz was a former military prison set on an island in the San Francisco bay. The jail was converted to a civilian prison in 1934 after work to further fortify and secure the island.

The idea behind Alcatraz was to house criminals with a history of escaping other prisons. The prison also housed convicts who continued with their criminal activity behind bars (this is why Al Capone was moved to Alcatraz). With the extra security and isolation, it was said to be impossible to escape and perfect for securely keeping prisoners who tended to go wandering.

Despite these inescapable (sorry we couldn’t resist) claims, 36 men attempted to make it off the island prison. Most caught and the rest failed to survive the attempt. That was until 1962, when 3 men successfully made it off the island – but their fate after that is still unknown.

The three were, John Anglin, Clarence Anglin and Frank Morris. Serving time for armed robbery, the trio spent months planning their daring escape. The first task was to use tools that they made themselves to dig through the walls of their cells. They decided the easiest place to dig through would be around the air vents on the back walls from the cells. After breaking through they found that the air vents led to an unused service corridor.

The trio weren’t done here however! Although they’d found a path to escape, the prisoners realised that they would need help to make it to the mainland. They stole over 50 raincoats to make a life raft. The prisoners even managed to develop make-shift life-preserving vests. Another ingenious idea was to create dummy heads to put in their beds and the guards off. Although we’re not sure how convincing these were (see the picture below) you can’t say the escapees didn’t go to any effort. They stole real human hair from the prison barbershop to make them as convincing as possible.

The dummy heads used in the escape from Alcatraz

After leaving their cells, they passed through the service corridor and proceeded to the prison roof. Here, they had hidden the equipment they’d made to aid their escape. Once the escapees had gathered all their resources, they continued along the roof, shimmied down the bakery chimney, and over the prison’s fence to freedom! At the island’s shoreline they inflated their raft and ventured out into the ice-cold water. After this point, nobody is 100% sure what happened to the men.

The FBI still maintains that the prisoners couldn’t have survived. They believe that with cold waters and strong tides, it would have been impossible to cross the bay. The odds were further stacked against them when you consider they had to navigate the sea at night.

The FBI’s informant also stated that once the trio reached land the plan was to steal clothes and a car, yet no such thefts were reported that night. Finally, according to authorities, there was no credible evidence to suggest that the men were still alive whether in the US or overseas.

Fans of the escape believe that not only was it possible for the group to have survived, but evidence exists to prove that they did. Letters sent to the mother of the Anglin brothers every Christmas, hint at the group’s possible survival. There was also several reported sightings of the brothers including recounts of two strange looking women, wearing a lot of make up, attending the funeral of the mother and leaving very soon after.

The mystery behind the escape is worth your time to read deeper into. Whatever became of the trio still provokes a great deal of speculation but what is certain is that this escape remains one of the most ingenious and daring.

2. The Great Escape

A map of the tunnel Harry used in the Great Escape

What list of escapes would be complete without the amazing story of the Great Escape? We’re sure everyone’s familiar with the famous Steve McQueen movie, but some dramatic license was taken by Hollywood, so it’s worth discovering the true story. Although there are no motorbike stunts here, don’t worry! The heroic escape is nearly as thrilling as the film it inspired.

The real escape took place in 1944 from the Stalag Luft III POW camp, located just 35km inside Poland. The location was selected after the Nazi’s believed the sandy soil would make an escape via tunnelling impossible!

However, they didn’t count on the grit and determination of the inmates, particularly English Squadron leader, Roger Bushell. Despite it being “impossible” to dig a tunnel in the sandy soil he devised an incredible plan to escape the Polish camp, they’d dig 3 tunnels, with the hope of evacuating over 200 airmen from the prison in a single night.

Considering the German’s believed a tunnel escape impossible, the 3 tunnel plan was as ambitious as it was ingenious. Why 3 tunnels? Bushel believed that 3 provided the prisoners with a few different protections. Firstly, if one tunnel was found by the guards, they would never suspect that any more tunnels were being dug. It also meant if one tunnel collapsed it wasn’t the end of their escape, they had 2 more to work on!

The tunnels were dug in the utmost secrecy, with each one being given a top-secret code name. The tunnels were christened, quite humorously, “Tom”, “Dick” and “Harry” to avoid arousing suspicion. The prisoners took this secrecy so seriously that it was deemed a court-martial offence to use the word tunnel, rather than the names given to them!

What happened to the tunnels? Well, “Tom” was discovered by the German guards and was quickly destroyed before there was a chance to escape. “Dick” was sadly abandoned, after the prison camp started building work on the where the tunnel would surface. However, “Dick” wasn’t dug entirely in vain! It served as the ideal place to hide soil dug up from “Harry” (the final escape tunnel) and doubled up as a workshop to produce tools and equipment for the final escape attempt.

In the end, over 600 people, both inmates and sympathetic guards, were involved in the escape plan. And, after a year of digging, forging and planning, the prisoners decided to escape on the evening of the 24th March 1944.

On the cold Friday evening, only 76 of the planned 200 POW’s managed to escape. Their journey to escape took them along a 335 foot, make-shift railway track (see below) built in the tunnel and towards the escape hatch. To help ensure safety, the tunnel had been reinforced by the wooden bed boards from the prisoner’s rooms, and fresh air was pumped along from the surface.

The tunnel and railway track from the Great Escape

Unfortunately, the escape didn’t go as smoothly as planned and ran into several problems. First, the tunnel was dug slightly short of the forest they had planned to emerge into, this meant that it was easy for guards to spot prisoners coming out of the hole. The cold weather on the night also meant that the escape hatch had been frozen solid, and escapees spent half an hour trying to get it to force it open. There was further delay when a nearby air-raid cut all the power to the tunnel.

At 4:55 am the 77th prisoner to escape was spotted by the guards emerging from the tunnel, starting a camp-wide search for the entrance. With the guards on high alert, any other prisoners were prevented from escaping. A countrywide search mission was assembled to track down the 76 who had successfully escaped the camp and sadly proved extremely successful. Only 3 prisoners managed to escape into freedom, with the other 73 being found by German forces.

50 of the prisoners involved in the escape were shot by the Gestapo under direct orders from Hitler, a breach of the Geneva convention. The remaining survivors were returned to other POW camps, or even to concentration camps.

The story is fascinating and as we’ve only been able to cover it briefly we recommend reading about it in the book “The Great Escape”, the film of the same name is worth a watch but it’s worth remembering that Hollywood took a few liberties with the tale.

Worth a Read:

The Great Escape

3. Geronimo

  • Year: 1885
  • Location: US/Mexico Border, Arizona
  • Escapees: £14 Million

Geronimo was a native American warrior and shaman who was famous for his attacks on Mexican and American settlements. He spent much of his life defending native American lands from both Mexico and the United States and was captured many times. However, his most incredible feat occurred when he was 60.

On 17th May 1885, Geronimo fled the San Carlos reservation in Arizona with several of his followers. Originally around 300 US troops were involved in trying to finding the Apache. Geronimo’s group used their freedom to conduct raids on civilians, including other Native Americas, stealing horses from other settlements across a wide area. The Apache also led the group from Mexico back over the border into the US and conducted “breakouts” on their reservation to release more of his kin.

At beginning of 1886 Geronimo’s camp was discovered, his horses were captured and any supplies stolen. He agreed to surrender on the 29th March, 1886. However, after being informed that he was to be killed by the US troops he escaped yet again with 37 of his followers.

By the Summer of 1886, Geronimo and the 37 others were being pursued by 5000 US soldiers (around a quarter of the enlisted army) and over 3000 Mexican soldiers. For over 5 months Geronimo and his troop evaded capture, travelling through the mountains and canyons between the US and Mexico. In September, Geronimo decided to surrender after it became too hard to live on the run against the resources of the US army, turning himself in near Skelton Canyon.

Geronimo and is warriors just before their capture

He spent the last 23 years of his life as a prisoner of war and wrote an autobiography covering his life, after approval from Theodore Roosevelt. The fact that he managed to evade capture for over 5 months with 8000 soldiers looking for him is incredible and earns him a well-earned mention in this list.

4. Napoleon

  • Date: 26th February, 1815
  • Location: Elba, Italy
  • Escapees: 1

The famous French general and emperor was known to have one or two tricks up his sleeve on the battlefield, but one of his best-laid plans was his escape from exile on the Island of Elba.

After defeat in the war of 6 coalitions, Napoleon abdicated in 1814. He negotiated his imprisonment and in typical Napoleon fashion, arranging to be emperor of the island of Elba, just off the coast of Italy. He kept himself busy and transformed the picturesque island, renewing its mines, reforming the economic system, and generating a small army. However despite this, and the fact that Elba seems a lovely place to be imprisoned, he focused his energies on escaping after learning the British planned to move him to the island of St. Helena, even further away from the continent.

On top of this, he was refused the money offered to him during his abdication which meant he was very close to living in poverty. Seeing an opportunity on the 26th February 1815, he assembled a small fleet of ships and hatched a plan to escape. He painted his vessel, the “Inconstant”, in British colours to avoid capture and set sail with about 1,150 soldiers for mainland France. Evading the fleet of French and British ships around the island, he landed in Golfe-Juan near Cannes.

Napoleon had one goal from here, and set off immediately for Paris. Louis XVIII (the man named ruler after Napoleon) panicked and ordered that Napoleon be captured before reaching the French capital. However, Louis severely underestimated Napoleon. Napoleon was first met by the 5th Infantry Regiment at Grenoble, where he and his troops fired no shot in their defence and persuaded the enemy  regiment to join the cause. In Laffrey, 6000 troops were stationed to stop Napoleon however again he evaded capture. Legend says he stepped in front of his army opened his coat and shouted “If any of you will shoot his Emperor, here I am”, it was met by shouts of “Vive L’Empreuer”. Unbelievably they joined his army and Napoleon marched, now unopposed and with a much larger force than before, all the way to Paris.

Louis XVIII (Napoleon’s successor) fled, and the diminutive general regained power. By June he was as powerful as ever and had 200 000 troops at his disposal. His second reign came to a halt after being defeated by Wellington and Prince Blucher of Prussia at the famous battle of Waterloo.

There are 2 amazing parts to this escape, that he was able to leave Elba in the first place despite being surrounded by ships, and that he was able to use his charisma and standing with the French people to not only avoid a battle but to convert the soldiers to his side.

I think you’ll agree that these escapes are fascinating stories from history that show incredible courage and ingenuity. Sadly most of the escapes were short-lived, and despite their best efforts most were unable to evade capture afterwards.

If you’ve been inspired or excited by any of these stories then take a look at our Live Escape Rooms! Fortunately, they only require an hour of your time and it’s much less likely that you’ll be recaptured!

5 of the UK’s Largest Heists!

5 of the UK’s Largest Heists!

With our new escape game “The Heist” around the corner, we thought we’d take a look at some of the UK’s largest and most famous heists. Some provided inspiration for our room and others that shocked us.

An image taken from Reservoir Dogs

1. The Great Train Robbery

  • Year: 1963
  • Location: Ledburn
  • Total Haul: £2 595 997 (about £53.4 million today)
  • Suspects: 13/17 convicted (for a total of 307 years)
Bridego Railway Bridge where the Great Train Robbery took place

Arguably the UK’s most famous heist, the Great Train Robbery was a meticulously planned caper; one which was very fruitful…almost. On the 8th August 1963, a gang of 15 men stole nearly £2.6 million worth of notes from a post office train travelling from Glasgow to London.

Using information from a man known only as “The Ulsterman”, the group set out to rob a travelling post-office train. The train was believed to be carrying  nearly £3 million in its high-value package carriage. Usually, the train would “only” be carrying around £300 000, but the previous weekend had been a Bank Holiday which meant there was much more money travelling down to London than usual.

They stopped the train at a red light signal near Ledburn in Buckinghamshire, overpowered the driver and got him to move the train half a mile along to a bridge. Here they proceeded to the HVP (high-value package) carriage, where they beat the staff with metal bars and proceeded to move the money via a human chain into a waiting van (see recreation below). The crew moved 128 sacks in 20 minutes, and even had to leave £131 000 behind so they could escape in time.

Whilst the heist was successful, the crew were caught after their hideout at Leatherslade farm was searched by police a few days later. The plan was for the farm to be torched by one of the team, but the man responsible took £10 000 of the loot and never completed his task. Despite the farm being cleaned, the police searched the farm and found the robbers fingerprints on a ketchup bottle.  Prints were also found famously on a Monopoly board that the gang had used to play Monopoly with real money the night after the robbery.

Most of the crew were arrested with 13 of the 17 suspects serving time in prison for the crime. “The Ulsterman” was never identified.

2. The Brinks Mat Robbery

  • Year: 1983
  • Location: Heathrow Trading Estate
  • Total Stolen: £26 Million (about £86 million today)
  • Suspects: 2/6 convicted
Heathrow Trading Estate after the Heist on the Brinks Mat building

On 26th November 1983, 20 years after the great train robbery, 6 men broke into the Brinks-Mat warehouse on the Heathrow International trading estate. The group gained entry to the warehouse via a security guard. Once inside they poured petrol over the staff and threatened them with a lit match if they refused to reveal the combination to the vault.

The gang expected to steal £3.2 million in cash from the vault but they made away with 3 tonnes of gold bullion as well as diamonds and the original cash, ending up with an eye-watering haul worth over £26 million.

Two of the gang were arrested but most of the crew evaded capture. They melted the gold down and mixed it with copper to hide its true source, before selling it back to the market. The vast majority of the gold has never been recovered, and it’s been said that if you bought gold jewellery made in the UK after 1983 that you are probably wearing gold from the Brinks Mat heist.

3. Hatton Gardens Heist

The Entrance to the Hatton Gardens Safety Deposit Box company

The Hatton Gardens Heist is the most recent on our list and although it did not elicit the most money, it did attract a huge amount of media attention. The publicity came with the surprising age of the robbers. The eldest member of the gang, Brian Reader, was 76 when he was arrested for his role in the robbery and the average age of the suspects was 64.

On April 2nd 2015, the Hatton Garden crew broke into the safety deposit vault of the building. It was a Bank Holiday weekend (a popular time for a heist?) and staff locked the doors at around 9:20, and were not due back until the following Tuesday. A few minutes later the crew disabled the communal lift for the building and descended the shaft to the basement vault. They drilled through the thick walls and made a space big enough for one of them to climb through. Over the next two days, they emptied 72 safety deposit boxes and transported them away in a white van.

The hole the robbers made in Hatton Garden vault

Most of the crew were arrested and they were sentenced to a combined total of over 43 years for the robbery. They were also ordered to pay £27.5 million or face extra terms in jail. So far only £732 000 has been repaid. Thankfully no one was harmed during this heist, but sadly the Hatton Garden Safety Deposit Company went into liquidation a few months after the robbery.

4. Securitas Depot Robbery

  • Year: 2006
  • Location: Tonbridge, Kent
  • Stolen: £53 116 760
  • Suspects: >36 Arrests

The Securitas Depot robbery is the largest cash-only robbery in British history. It’s also the most shocking on our list due to the lengths that the gang went to in order to gain access to the money.

On the 21st February 2006 Colin Dixon, the manager of the depot, was pulled over by what he believed to be an unmarked police car. He was taken into the car for “questioning” by a man dressed in a police uniform. Once in the back seat, a gun was pulled on him, he was bound and driven to a farm in Kent.

The gang then horrifyingly moved to take his wife and 8-year-old son hostage too. Dressed in police uniforms and employing the same deceptive methods, they managed to convince Mr. Dixon’s wife that her husband had been involved in a car accident and would need to transport her and her son to the hospital to see him. The two duly obliged, convinced by the story told to them. Of course, they were not taken to the hospital but rather the same farm where Mr. Dixon was held captive. He was told by his captors that they would “blow a hole” in one of them if he failed to cooperate.

At 01:00 the next day the family were taken to the Securitas depot, where 14 staff were bound and taken hostage. Wearing latex masks and balaclavas to hide their identity, the gang filled a lorry with over £53 Million of banknotes and had to leave a further £154 million behind as they’d run out of space in their lorry.

The thieves rounded up the hostages and locked them in metal cages before fleeing the scene. The hostages managed to escape when the manager’s 8-year-old son was able to squeeze between the bars and retrieve the key for the cages from another staff member.  

Returning to the Kent farm, the gang counted up and divided the money before going their separate ways. Over 36 people have been arrested in connection with the heist. Two of the ring leaders were caught after one accidentally recorded plans for the heist on his phone.

5. Baker Street Robbery

  • Year: 1971
  • Location: Baker Street, London
  • Stolen: £3 Million (£41.7 million today)
  • Suspects: 1 Conviction
The entrance to the Lloyds bank after the Heist

A street better known for a detective than for criminals played host to a theft on September 11 1971. On the day £3 Million was stolen from the vault of the Lloyds bank. The crew rented a leather goods store 2 doors down from the bank. From here they tunnelled 50 feet, passing under the Chicken Inn restaurant and straight into the vault. To avoid being overheard, they dug on weekends, and once through to the vault used explosives to gain entry.

The robbers were overheard by an amateur radio enthusiast, who notified the police. The police used this information to check the 750 banks within 10 miles of the enthusiast’s receiver. They even searched the Lloyds bank in Baker Street whilst the gang were inside! Fortunately for the thieves, the police believed the bank was secure as the security doors were still locked, so left the bank whilst the robbery continued undetected.

An annotated photo of the baker street heist

This heist is particularly interesting for its links to other crimes and the conspiracy theories surrounding it. The leader of the Hatton Gardens heist, Brian Reader, was believed to have been behind this heist in Baker Street too. Both of the robberies having a very similar MO. Reader was also linked to the Brink’s Mat robbery after he was convicted for handling stolen goods from the heist in 1986.

The conspiracy surrounding the Baker Street robbery is that the crime was in fact planned by MI5 to recover some compromising photographs of Princess Margaret. Supporters of the theory believe that the press were told not to report on the robbery by the government, and believe that the fact the bank wasn’t searched properly was due to the orders from high up.

The film “The Bank Job” starring Jason Statham is based on the Baker Street Robbery.

We hope you enjoyed reading about these famous Heists! If you want to take the role of thief and have a go stealing a diamond from a jewellery store yourself  then take a look at our newest game “The Heist”.