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, the film includes several edited stock shots of LNER passenger trains. One is of a suburban service leaving a station with a small tank locomotive visible at the head of a train in an adjacent platform, two show passengers boarding trains at an unknown terminal platform, and another is of a going away shot of an express in the same location as one of the shots of the P2. The best shot though is of 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.