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The LNER at the Movies (and in books)

Posted: Fri May 05, 2006 10:04 pm
by richard
This thread discusses LNER appearances in films, on TV, and in books (excluding documentaries). It is also used as a source for the following page in the articles section:

The LNER in Books, Film, and TV

Additions, corrections, and further information should be posted to this thread, and I will add them to the above article at regular intervals.

For a few weeks, I've been thinking that I could add an article page listing films that featured the LNER. Obviously there are lots of modern documentaries and videos, so the page should concentrate on fiction.

The page could also include fictional books (cf. Andrew's Arthur Ransome reference) and TV.

So as people see films that reference the LNER, please could you make a note of it by replying to this thread? In a month or so, I will then collate them into a new article page. As new references are added to the thread, I can add them to the page.

References should include the title, year, prominent people (actors, directors,etc), and a description of the reference. Be wary of multiple versions of the same story (Railway Children and The 39 Steps come to mind).

LNER-relevant mistakes can be mentioned, but be reasonable as regards what a film can achieve (Hitchcock's GWR-hauled Flying Scotsman is fine; but a rebuilt locomotive depicting an engine before the rebuild would be too picky)

I'll kick things off in a few minutes.


Posted: Fri May 05, 2006 10:23 pm
by richard
The Thirty Nine Steps (1935)
Alfred Hitchcock, Richard Donat; based on the book by John Buchan

The hero, Hannay escapes from London on the Flying Scotsman. This is seen leaving King's Cross, hauled by an A1/A3 Pacific.
Hannay departs the train after pulling the chord in the vicinity of the Forth Bridge.

Mistake: The stock footage of the train leaving a tunnel, is actually hauled by a GWR 4-6-0!

The Kenneth More version (1959) also features the Forth Bridge. (other than some production studio shots, I haven't seen this film - can anyone elaborate?)

Interestingly, in the novel Buchan has Hannay fleeing from St. Pancras and the West Coast route (via Crewe).

The Ladykillers (1955)
Alec Guinness, Peter Sellars; Ealing Studios

Virtually all the action occurs in the vicinity of Kings Cross. The house is located over Copenhagen Tunnel. A mockup of the house was used for these shots, but the front of the house is a real house located further south near St. Pancras.
There are lots of shots of A3s, V2s, N2s, etc as would be expected in the vicinity of Kings Cross in the 1950s.

The Railway Children (1970)
Dinah Sheridan, Jenny Agutter, Bernard Cribbins.

Features the soul surviving Gresley N2 0-6-2T No. 4744, which was based on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway at the time.
(it is a while since I saw this film, but isn't the N2 the one that Jenny Agutter stops with her scarlet petticoat?)

Posted: Sat May 06, 2006 6:55 am
by John B
Great idea Richard,

I cannot add much to your list other than that many years ago I saw a film featuring Flying Scotsman.

If my memory serves me it involved the actress actually scrambling along the outside of the carriages as the train was steaming along.

The film was in black and white. The film was half made with captions (in 1929) and before film sound technologies had been fully perfected. Revolutionally, the second half of the film carried sound.

I apologise for not knowing more about the film. The film may even have been called "Flying Scotsman" but I cannot be absolutely certain about that. It was very dramatic and I'd love a copy of it - lots of exciting photography!

Hope this jogs someone's memory?

Posted: Sat May 06, 2006 7:59 am
by Bullhead
richard wrote:The Kenneth More version (1959) also features the Forth Bridge. (other than some production studio shots, I haven't seen this film - can anyone elaborate?)
There are some nice, atmospheric shots taken at Waverley as Hannay joins a northbound express hauled by an A4. His attempt to persuade the Police that he is a newly-wed fails when his "wife" rebuts his advances, so he opens the compartment door and climbs along the outside of the train. An A1 or A2-hauled express on the up line nearly swipes him (don't try this at home, kids). The pursuing Police stop the train, which is by now in the cantilever section of the Forth Bridge.
Hannay eventually escapes through an inspection hatch in the four-foot and, scrambling over steelwork high above the Forth, makes his perilous way down to South Queensferry.
I guess the "railway" scene lasts 5 or so minutes. The film is available on DVD - I got my copy from eBay for a few quid - and is fantastically atmospheric throughout.

Out of interest, I once worked with Sir Kenneth More (and Ron Moody, and Jim Dale, and John le Mesurier). I was a peasant-playing extra in the Disney movie "The Spaceman and King Arthur", which was filmed at Alnwick Castle in 1978 or so. He played King Arthur. There are no trains in it...

Oh Mr Porter
The opening scene of the Will Hay classic "Oh Mr Porter" has the hero, employed as a wheel-tapper, playing havoc at the naming ceremony of "Silver Link":
See for more shots from the film itself, which is surprisingly enjoyable.

The LNER at the Movies (and in books)

Posted: Sat May 06, 2006 2:33 pm
by 52A
A few more for the collection, would you like more detail?

Agatha 1978

York station disguised as Harrogate with 4472 (also disguised as 4474 and 4480).
Vanessa Redgrave, Dustin Hoffman. Dir. Michael Apted.

Carry on regardless 1960
Some shots on Forth bridge with A4s. Carry on team. Dir. Gerald Thomas.

The Flying Scotsman 1930
4472 at a number of East Coast Main Line locations and Hertford Loop. Moore Marriott, Ray Millard, Pauline Johnson. Dir. Castleton Knight.

For Them That Trespass 1948
Scenes at Welwyn Tunnel. Stephen Murray, Patricia Plunkett. Dir. Cavalcanti.

Happy Ever After 1954
Buntingford branch with 65464. David Niven, Yvonne de Carlo, George Cole. Dir. Mario Zampa.

Holiday Camp 1947
LNER tank arrives at Skegness. Jack Warner. Dir Ken Annakin.

I Was Monty’s Double 1958
61606 arrives Liverpool Street. John Mills, Cecil Parker. Dir. John Guillermin.

It Always Rains On Sunday 1947
Temple Mills with J39, J69, 8591 and 8607. John McCallum, Jack Warner. Dir. Robert Hamer.

Knight Without Armour 1937
J15s 7835 and 7541 at Longmoor and Denham. Robert Donat, Marlene Dietrich. Dir. Jacques Feyder.

The Lady Killers 1935
Between Kings Cross and Potters Bar, various trains. Alec Guiness, Peter Sellers, Herbert Lom. Dir. Alexander Mackendrick.

Number Seventeen 1932
Kings Cross area, Hertford Loop, Doncaster with 2547, J15. John Stuart, Anne Gray. Dir. Alfred Hitchcock.

Oh Mister Porter 1937
Silver Link at Kings Cross. Will Hay, Moore Marriott, Graham Moffat. Dir. Marcel Varnel.

Operation Bullshine 1959
Buntingford branch with N7. Donald Sinden, Barbara Murray. Dir. Gilbert Gunn.

Postmans Knock 1961
Buntingford branch with J15. Spike Milligan, Barbara Shelley. Dir. Robert Lynn.

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes 1970
KWVR with 52044. Robert Stevens, Colin Blakely. Dir. Billy Wilder.

The Railway Children
KWVR with 52044 disguised as 957. Dinah Sheridan, Jenny Agutter, Bernard Cribbens. Dir. Lionel Jeffries.

The Rainbow Jacket 1954
70011 (at Lpool Street?) Newmarket with B1. Kay Walsh, Bill Owen. Dir. Basil Dearden.

The Sea Shall Not have Them 1954
Felixstowe with F6. Dirk Bogarde, Michael Redgrave. Dir. Lewis Gilbert.

The Silent Passenger 1935
Stratford Works, Liverpool Street with 8788 and 2616. John Loder, Peter Haddon. Dir. Reginald Denham.

The 39 Steps 1959
60147 on Forth Bridge. Kenneth More, Barry Jones. Dir. Ralph Thomas.

Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines. 1965
Bedford to Hitchin with HR103. sarah Miles, Eric Sykes, Terry Thomas. Dir. Ken Annakin.

Posted: Sat May 06, 2006 2:38 pm
by Bullhead
Wow. Barry Norman, eat your heart out! :shock:
52A wrote:Oh Mister Porter 1937 Silver Link at Kings Cross
I'm pretty sure that the Silver Link naming ceremony isn't shot at King's Cross. It's a smallish rural station somewhere, where Hay saunters casually into proceedings and ends up soaking the guests from the water crane which is partially visible in the picture I posted earlier (only visible if you log in).
52A wrote:The 39 Steps 1959 60147 on Forth Bridge
I've just re-watched the railway scenes from the 1959 "39 Steps". There are 3 A4s featured (in this order): 60024 "Kingfisher", 60012 "Commonwealth of Australia" (carrying "The Talisman" headboard arriving in platform 11 at Waverley), and 60027 "Merlin". 60012 subsequently features a second time. The passing train which nearly clips Hannay is hauled by an A1 or an A2 but it is too blurred to read its smokebox 'plate. As Hannay struggles to pull the inspection hatch cover back over on the Forth Bridge, the train passing on the up line is hauled by 60162 "Saint Johnstoun".

Posted: Sat May 06, 2006 4:44 pm
by richard
Excellent response everyone!

52A: That's a long list! However I think you have the wrong year for "The Lady Killers". I'm only aware of two versions. The Ealing version based around Kings Cross was from the 50s. The Coen Brothers' version (Tom Hanks takes Alec Guinness's role) was much more recent. Alas no LNER in that version, although the central gag remains intact.

Bullhead: Thanks for the extra Kenneth More 39 Steps info. I've actually heard some very bad things about this version! Leonard Maltin and the blurb in my copy of the novel describe it along the lines of "a lesson in how not to make a thriller/suspense movie"! I don't know, I haven't seen it.

The Hitchcock version is definitely early Hitchcock, but it is still watchable today and there are elements which re-appear in his "Hollywood era" - eg. a number of parallels with "North by North West".

We have a Netflix account, which means I can rent just about any US-regular-release DVD via the post. This is excellent for classic movies or obscure (here) UK stuff, but neither "Oh My Porter" nor the later two "39 Steps" have been released yet. Sometimes it is just a matter of time - their Ealing list keeps growing, and I have to wait until July to see Eccleston's Dr Who...

Another one for the list:

The Titfield Thunderbolt
Filmed in Somerset and mainly featuring ex-GWR and ex-SR types; however the regular (14xx hauled) train's coach is from the Wisbech and Upwell. Two of this type were built - the other one survives in preservation.


Posted: Sat May 06, 2006 4:46 pm
by richard
John B & 52A: I think I've heard of "The Flying Scotsman" and may have even seen clips. I wonder if it is available on DVD?


Posted: Sat May 06, 2006 9:34 pm
by x568wcn
Can't help with trains, but the earlier thread of York Station Starring as Harrogate. In Charriots of Fire, it played London Victoria, but since knowing this I haven't seen the film to know if any LNER is there.

The LNER at the Movies (and in books)

Posted: Sun May 07, 2006 10:57 am
by 52A

Well spotted!! Typo I'm afraid, date should be 1955.

New fingers on order.

Posted: Sun May 07, 2006 12:53 pm
by x568wcn
Carry on Regardless 1961
Sidney James, Kenneth Connor, Charles Hawtrey, Joan Sims
Dir.Gerald Thomas
Prod. Peter Rogers

Scene at 50:52 of A4 Pacific 4491 (60012) charging towards the screen at high speed.

Note; you cannot tell which engine it is at normal speed, only through the aid of DVD, and then you can't get the number on the side of the cab (the front is too dark!) as the film has been reversed, and the number is completley backwards!

Scenen at 51:23 A4 traveling very fast, and in the split second you see it, there looks to be a plaque on the side, but by the time the engine gets close enough, the number looks either 22 or 24, and the round plaque goes oblong! I would say though it was Mallard 60022

Scene 55:00 on the forth Bridge, a super emposed A3 tavelling in the opposite direction, number loos like it ends in 2 or 82, but is too blurred to be sure.

Scene 55:11 A4 travelling away, but it is too far away to indentifiy

Mark T

Posted: Wed May 10, 2006 11:50 pm
by richard
For the next few days, you can listen to The Ladykillers over the internet, courtesy of BBC Radio 7: ... adykillers

This is adapted from the Ealing screenplay. Donald Sinden as one of the thieves ("The Captain") and Johnny Morris as the parrot!

Some stock steam noises - but no chime whistles.


Posted: Sun May 14, 2006 6:36 pm
by x568wcn
Are we just talking movies, or can we do tv aswell?

Dads Army, Series 6, episode 3, transmitted 14/11/1973
The Royal Train

Right at the end there is a shot of 60009 carrying the king.

Mark T

Posted: Sun May 14, 2006 7:08 pm
by richard
Could do.

There's also the opening sequence of "Poirot", which features a Silver Jubilee livery A4 as a symbol of the mid-30s luxury, alongside RMS Queen Mary and an Imperial Airways HP-42.


Posted: Sun May 14, 2006 8:02 pm
by Bullhead
In the remake of "The Railway Children" (in which Jenny Agutter features as the mother), the railway scenes are - very atmospherically - shot on the Bluebell Railway where ex-NBR J36 "Maude" puts in several appearances and hauls the train which brings the children's father home at last. The Scottish theme is continued by Gregor Fisher (best known as Rab C. Nesbitt), who plays the part of Perks the porter.