1hr 16mins
Dir: Redd Davis
Starring: John Loder and Leonora Corbett

A new gas formula that can be used as a deadly weapon attracts the interest of a shadowy peace movement

This crime thriller is most notable for the exceptionally rare footage of Gresley’s pioneering P2 Class 2-8-2 No.2001 Cock O’ the North, the star of the lost 1935 musical to which it gave its name. Most of the shots are grainy and less than satisfactory, but several show the loco at King’s Cross which is very significant. The LNER P2’s were designed for the arduous Edinburgh-Aberdeen line so did not travel south o’ the border. No.2001 was new in May 1934 and after main line trials was then sent over to France for testing at the Vitry-sur-Seine Testing Station. It returned in the early months of 1935 and entered service. Therefore, the footage of the loco in London may be from the time that it worked several loaded test trains in the June and July of 1934 when it would have been almost brand new. It is likely then that the shots of the locomotive are from LNER publicity material, that were then used in the 1935 film Cock O’ the North, but as that film is lost we will never know. Muddying the waters still further is the fact that the shot of a P2 arriving at King’s Cross appears to show the second built member of the class, No.2002 Earl Marischal as there is a ‘rise’ in the running plate that 2001 did not have (probably due to differing valve gear). Completed in the Autumn of 1934 with a single set of smoke deflectors, 2002 had a second, outer set added in April 1935 after one set did not prove effective. The loco in the film only has one set, but if this a shot of 2002 in that brief period of single deflectors, the steam exhaust pipe from the cylinders to the smokebox would have been visible and I can’t make it out due to the quality of the film. Still, it is likely to be 2002, and it would seem that the footage used is again from the LNER Publicity Department, perhaps showing the loco arriving on a loaded test train as part of its running in trials from Doncaster. For the record only six P2 Class 2-8-2’s were constructed, and all were rebuilt into A2/2 Class 4-6-2 pacifics during the Second World War. No.2002 was the third rebuild in June 1944, and 2001 was the fourth to be rebuilt in September 1944. Footage of these locos in either format is very rare. As well as the footage of the P2’s, the film includes several edited stock shots of LNER passenger trains at King’s Cross Suburban platforms and other shots of main line expresses, the best of which shows an LNER A3 Class 4-6-2 passing through the centre road of Wood Green (Alexandra Park) station. My thanks are extended to Trevor Johnson for providing me with the film and the insight into the early history of the P2 locomotives. Thanks are also given to Timothy Taylor (via Phil Wilkinson at reelstreets) for the identity of the now much altered King’s Cross Suburban platforms.

The first shot of Cock O’ the North shows it steaming head-on towards the camera. This is looking south from north of Finsbury Park station. The viaduct arches climbing up on the right carry the line to Highgate.
This is by far the best shot of Cock O the North. Incidentally, this is described as a ‘Southampton boat train’ in the film and this is about as far away from a Southampton boat train one can get!! Two years later, this shot reappeared in Somewhere in England (qv).
This edited going-away shot is taken from the same place as the first shot of No.2001. The yard on the left is well-filled with both passenger and freight stock.
The ‘rise’ in the running plate show that this P2 pulling into King’s Cross is probably No.2002 Earl Marischal
And it is captured approaching the bufferstops in this view looking the other way
The platform at King’s Cross, added here for completeness
Passengers make their way to a train at platform 14 of King’s Cross
Which is followed by this shot of the same suburban platform from a slightly different angle
No.2001 Cock O’ the North pulls out of King’s Cross Suburban platform 12
An LNER suburban train pulls out of King’s Cross Suburban platform 14 with quad-art set 94 on the rear. The train standing in the platform on the left has a small tank loco at the front.
There are many shots of wheels going over points as viewed from track level, most of which belong to rolling stock and not locomotives. Included for good measure is this edited stock shot of an LNER express, though if you look at the telegraph pole on the right, this could well be the same train hauled by No.2001 as seen in the second shot on this page.
And finally we save the best till last. This excellent shot shows an LNER A3 pacific passing through the centre road of Wood Green (Alexandra Park) station, renamed Wood Green in 1971 and Alexandra Palace in 1982.