THE GALLOPING MAJOR

GB
1951
1hr 22mins
Dir: Henry Cornelius
Starring: Basil Radford and Janette Scott

A group of Londoners form a syndicate to buy a racehorse

This charming comedy sports film, with the subtitle ‘A fairy tale about horse-racing’, sees the group train the racehorse in a field next to a railway. This was in fact part of the common next to Wandsworth Common station in south west London. SR pre-war EMUs pass (a mixture of what appears to be 4 LAVs and 2 NOLs) as well as a more modern 4 SUB-type unit. In another training scene, a 6 PAN unit on headcode 16 passes by at speed and the back of a signal box is visible. Headcode 16 (Central Section) in this case was Victoria-Littlehampton via Quarry and Hove. The location for this shot was just south east of Wandsworth Common as the line climbs around the bend to Balham. As the horse is entered into the Grand National there are brief shots of Aintree Sefton Arms station with an ex-LMS ‘Jubilee’ Class 5XP 4-6-0 making an appearance, though the camera cuts before the loco number appears. The earlier race scenes were filmed at Alexandra Park racecourse and mainline coaching stock can be seen stabled in the background on the Great Northern main line. There is also a comedy scene filmed at an unknown level crossing over which ex-LMS Class 5MT ‘Black Five’ 4-6-0 No.45071 (with ‘BRITISH RAILWAYS’ branding on the tender) passes running light, and a very brief glimpse of a Liverpool tram in one of the later street scenes.

Alexandra Park Racecourse with the New River Reservoir in the background and BR coaching stock on the Great Northern Main Line beyond. The gasometer belonged to the Clarendon Gasworks in Wood Green.
Training the hapless neddie in a field next a railway line. This is actually part of the common next to platform 4 of Wandsworth Common station and a pre-War SR EMU is passing through, probably a SUB.
A closer view of an EMU passing through platform 4 shows a different mix of coaching stock.
In this shot looking the other way a train of much older stock is in the station, probably 2 NOL’s. Note the covered footbridge visible through the trees above the train on the far left. In fact, the ‘sign’ on the right could well be the back of the station nameboard.
In this much clearer view, a n SR SUB EMU is passing through the station with some open 4-wheel freight wagons behind.
This is the best of the Southern Region shots. As a council official complains about the muddy conditions created by the horse a 6 PAN EMU passes by in closeup at speed working headcode 16. The back of a signal box is on the left and this is looking around the inclined bend towards Balham just south east of Wandsworth Common station.
A sadly unidentified Jubilee arrives into Aintree Sefton Arms station on a race excursion. Note the station name picked out in white stones on the cutting side and the curved nameplate of the locomotive for that matter
This is the unidentified level crossing in the film, but there should be enough here to identify it. The nameboard reads ‘? Lane Crossing’ and there is a siding behind it that looks to contain some old milk wagons. A road bridge is just in shot top right but, most curiously, what appears to be fourth rail electrification at the bottom, or is that just a trick of the eye?
A moment later and Black Five No.45071 in early British Railways livery skips across the crossing working light
This is the very brief glimpse of a Liverpool Corporation tram, working a service on Route 20 or 21 to Aintree