1hr 06mins
Dir: Maurice Elvey
Starring: Peter Hannen and Benita Hume

A scientist and his wife honeymoon in Scotland and get embroiled in an attempted kidnapping

This early thriller has a wonderful fast-paced chase in its final third with some very good railway scenes on the LMS network, it is just unfortunate that we do not know where all these were filmed. Some scenes took place on the Highland main line at both Aviemore Junction and Daviot stations, but it seems that others could have been shot on the Settle-Carlisle route. The train journeys themselves use quite detailed sets (note the LMS bedspreads in the sleeping car!) with the usual back-projection whilst there are many shots of passing trains. Some are at night and thus completely indistinguishable, and others show just wheels and motion, yet there are still some good shots of expresses passing mostly in the hands of unrebuilt ‘Royal Scots’. Interestingly, as the train first pulls away we get a glimpse of the cab of No.6100 Royal Scot itself. This will be the original doyen of the fleet, two years before it swapped identities with No.6152 and thus quite rare. Incredibly, the only other ‘Royal Scot’ identifiable in the film is No.6152 The King’s Dragoon Guardsman!! There is also a run-by of a Hughes ‘Crab’ 2-6-0, a distant shot of Culloden Viaduct with train, and an interesting shot of a train passing a locomotive shed complete with engine. Finally, the train arrives into London Euston station behind a ‘Claughton’ 4-6-0, but not before we see a train arrive behind another ‘Royal Scot’! The film was based on the 1926 novel Footsteps in the Night by Cicely Fraser-Simson. Benita Hume was a successful actress of her time and will be known to railway buffs for playing a lead role in the 1929 classic The Wrecker which featured one of the most spectacular staged crashes of all time. Peter Hannen, meanwhile, would make just one more film before falling ill and dying in January 1932 at the age of just 24. As a footnote, Hannen plays a scientist in the film who has devised some sort of energy saving device that will revolutionise the concept of travel. The opening scene shows him working on a very detailed engineers line drawing of a steam locomotive.

At the station, and the journey to London begins. If the following shots are anything to go by then this is Daviot. The coach to the left appears old even by 1931 standards.
Benita Hume waves goodbye to the train. This is Aviemore Junction on the Highland main line between Perth and Inverness, still open today as plain Aviemore.
A close three-quarter rear shot of ‘Royal Scot’ No.6100 Royal Scot
An express approaches the camera as night falls. The locomotive is a ‘Royal Scot’.
An interesting view through binoculars of the majestic Culloden Viaduct east of Inverness
‘Royal Scot’ run-by No.1
‘Royal Scot’ run-by No.2. Sadly, the smokebox numberplate remains unreadable.
‘Royal Scot’ run-by No.3. This classic scene has been much repeated over the years and it shows a class member passing through the Lune Gorge. But where did it originate from? It is likely stock footage from an early LMS publicity film, and after appearing here, went on to feature in at least six others – No Limit (1935), Quiet Wedding (1941), The Black Sheep of Whitehall (1942), Next of Kin (1942), The Echo Murders (1945), and The Hangman Waits (1947).
A distant train approaches Daviot station
Later in the film the shot is shown again, only this time the train is tracked all the way through the station. Guess what is hauling the train? Another ‘Royal Scot’.
Luckily we get to see the identity of the loco, No.6152 The King’s Dragoon Guardsman. By pure chance this loco would swap identities with doyen of the fleet No.6100 Royal Scot only two years later.
This is Daviot station, which closed to passengers in 1965. It masquerades in the film as ‘Craigenlarich’, a clear corruption of Craigendoran and Crianlarich, two other Scottish stations.
This shot from the station forecourt shows the way in which the platform has been built into the hillside behind
Another unrebuilt ‘Royal Scot’ takes a train across a small viaduct. Is this the Settle-Carlisle? Or the northern end of the West Coast?
A different train passes through a cutting somewhere in the countryside of Scotland. Or Northern England.
And now for something a little different. This train is hauled not by a ‘Royal Scot’, but by an unidentified Hughes ‘Crab’ 2-6-0.
A car keeps pace with a train in this well staged shot.
This, too, may not be a ‘Royal Scot’, but it is too dark really to give an exact identity
Back at Aviemore Junction now. The Highland main line formed a junction here with meandering cross-country routes to Forres, Keith and Elgin. The station is still open today, and although the other routes have closed it still forms a ‘junction’ with the Strathspey Railway which has reopened the route to Forres as far as Broomhill. A steam loco is visible simmering on the left, but it is obscured by the wagons.
Aviemore Junction station, which happily appears little altered today from this view from 1931
For once, I am at a loss as to what this interesting scene shows. The suggestion is that this is a shot of Camden shed with LNWR locos in the LMS era, which would tie in nicely with the rest of the film, but can anyone help further with this?
This lovely shot shows a ‘Royal Scot’ pulling into London Euston, very nearly at journey’s end
We are now inside the old London Euston, dark and dingy even by the standards of the day. The train arriving is in the hands of an ex-LNWR ‘Claughton’ 4-6-0.
The Royal Scot arrives into Euston with a porter ready to station themselves at every door. This is the named train, and not the locomotive of course.
Euston’s old Doric Arch, the demolition of which caused so much furore at the time that proposals to demolish St Pancras with similar gusto were thankfully shelved