Dirs: Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat
Starring: Frankie Howerd and Dora Bryan
St. Trinian’s is infiltrated by a gang of train robbers who are foiled in their attempts by the schoolgirls
The fourth in the series of five films that were based on St. Trinian’s is by far the best remembered with the most notable railway scenes. It is now considered a movie classic by enthusiasts and its frequent television screenings show that its popularity hasn’t wained. It was another movie to use the substantial system of the Longmoor Military Railway (LMR), three years before the ever faithful system closed. The railway scenes dominate the last 20 minutes or so of the film, although there is a train robbery sequence at the start that features a night shot of Royal Mail sorting vans interspersed with views of a European steam locomotive! The girls arrive at ‘Hamingwell Halt’, actually Whitehill station, behind an LMR Hunslet ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0ST with Southern Railway ‘Birdcage’ stock. For the final chase sequence, the train that the crooks use is a short goods hauled by another of the lines Hunslet ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0ST’s No.157 Constantine disguised with sloping side tanks, BR emblems and fictitious number ‘68961’, therefore representing an LNER Class J50/3’. The schoolgirls give chase by hijacking a waiting local at ‘Nutcombe’, actually Longmoor Downs, and the train is formed of Hunslet ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0ST No.196 Errol Lonsdale and two old BR suburban non-corridor coaches. Curiously, whereas Constantine was disguised heavily with side tanks, No.196 only had its nameplates removed, as well as the application of BR emblems and the number ‘68011’, thus representing an LNER J94, a scheme it was to later carry in preservation. A couple of girls commandeer a permanent way pump trolley and go around changing points at will whilst the schoolmistresses find a Wickham Trolley which they all cram into! The trolley is No.WD 9033 which had also appeared the year before in Runaway Railway (qv). The Wickham is now preserved. The police join the scene rather late, arriving at Longmoor Downs aboard three-car Class 205 DEMU No.1102, on loan from British Rail for filming and displaying headcode 99. The final scenes where the crooks are arrested takes place at ‘Pudham’, actually Liss station and the BR (Southern Region) platforms can be seen in the background. An earlier scene at Liss shows that the station was also given the name of ‘Fordbridge’. At one stage, the girls manage to couple the box van containing the loot to their train and the following chase is fast and frenzied (and much speeded up), with trains being switched at regular intervals from ‘up lines and down lines’ as well as chasing each other on the same tracks. It remains one of the funniest chase sequences involving British trains. Look out for the scene involving the Wickham petrol trolley and one of the LMR’s two Derby-built 0-6-0 diesel shunters, No.878 Basra on a train of four-wheel vans. They head towards each other on the same section of track, filmed at Whitehill Bridge, the only overbridge on the Longmoor system. No.878 was in LMR blue but with ‘BR’ replacing ‘LMR’ on its sides. It is now preserved, this being the only time that one of these vintage 1945-built shunters featured in a movie. As an additional footnote there is photographic evidence of No.68961 having derailed with the film crew in attendance. The suggestion is that this was a deliberate act filmed for the movie then not shown in the completed take, though of course the loco could simply have derailed by accident during filming. Either way, we will perhaps never know. With thanks to reelstreets for some of the more clearer shots.