1hr 21mins
Dir: Reginald Denham
Starring: Jack Hulbert and Genevieve Tobin

A police inspector trails the female leader of a bullion gang

Based on the 1917 Edgar Wallace novel of the same name, this unfairly neglected thriller features some excellent railway footage in its final half-hour as the gang steal the train for its gold bullion van. The scene in which the gold is offloaded from a ship at ‘Seahampton Docks’ was filmed at Brentford Docks at night and a GWR Special Directors Saloon coach and four-wheeled van can be seen. The railway chase sequences were filmed on the Limpley Stoke-Camerton branch and the Westbury-Bath line, locations that have been used in a number of other films. The scene with the train smashing through the level crossing was filmed at Freshford Halt, though the crossing itself was a mock-up, and the scene where Jack Hulbert brings the train to a stand at a level crossing, this time to halt the gangs progress, used the real level crossing close to Camerton station. The location where the steam locomotive crashes through wooden shed doors was filmed at a closed colliery in the Somerset coalfield. The star of all these scenes (as well as the pre-credit sequence) was GWR 4300 Class 2-6-0 No.4364 (with its ‘Great Western’ tender lettering painted out) but a couple of real rarities crop up in the shots of the police swarming out of a train at Limpley Stoke station. The train apparently pulls in behind a GWR ‘Bulldog’ Class 4-4-0, a rare beast indeed for a feature film, but an even rarer loco appears in the continuity error which follows. As the police head down the platform ramp evidence that the scenes were filmed on separate nights is revealed by the appearance of a 3000 Class 2-8-0 at the head of the train! Built by the Railway Operating Division (ROD) of the Royal Engineers for use in the First World War and based on the Great Central Railway’s Robinson designed 8K Class 2-8-0s, 100 RODs were purchased in two separate batches by the Great Western Railway and less than half (45) survived to enter BR ownership in 1948. Pictures of these locos in use on the Great Western are rather sparse so an appearance of one in this film is quite exceptional. Despite logic taking a back seat in what is ultimately quite a flimsy story, Tobin is wickedly delightful as ‘Kate’, and Jack Hulbert gives an agreeable performance in this film which he also helped write and proves again that he could cope just as well without Cicely Courtneidge by his side. Like so many films from the period though it really is the trains that make it all worthwhile, with the chase, capture and escape all perfectly executed.

Most of the runbys in the film consist of this GWR 4300 Class 2-6-0. As it is filmed at night the loco is lit up to make it almost ethereal in appearance. It is assumed, but not confirmed, that No.4364 was used for every shot. This scene opens the film as part of the pre-title sequence.
This is thought to be Freshford, a small halt in the Avon Valley which remains open today. Though a small barrow crossing existed here, the crossing gates are a mock up which is just as well because they were demolished by the train five minutes later!
A number of emphatic runbys take place whereby the locomotive and single small four-wheeled van storm through stations, not all of which can be Freshford.
This is clearly the same station to that above but notice the mistake. The train is now running wrong line!?! This error can explained by a simple reversal of the film. Look closely and everything is the same just backwards.
Another runby and another (different?) loco. It looks to me like that might be a curved nameplate glinting on the side of the loco. So what could it be? This is likely the same shot to those above just filmed from the opposite platform.
This is the arrival sequence whereby the police are brought to the scene by train. The loco is said to be a ‘Bulldog’ 4-4-0 but I can’t make out the details for sure. This is thought to be Limpley Stoke, the next station along the Avon Valley from Freshford but unlike the latter, Limpley has closed, losing its passenger service in 1966.
There is no denying this loco its identity. In the one obvious continuity error that takes place we see that the arriving locomotive has now changed to a ROD Class 3000 2-8-0, a very, very, rare loco to have captured on film.
Now onto the final sequence and this shot of a 4300 Class 2-6-0 shows us two things. The first is that the ‘Great Western’ lettering on the tender has been rubbed out. Though it would unlikely have been readable in the film anyway, the Great Western nonetheless took all possible measures to remove their identity from a film about a gold bullion robbery. Secondly, it shows that in my humble opinion some of the earlier sequences appear to have used a different loco. Whereas sources state that the 4300 Class was No.4364 this identity is not visible in the film and we can only take this as fact because it has been perpetuated from one source to another. It is how errors occur, but where did this ‘identity’ originate from. We may never know, but only through the watching of films and the scrutinizing of scenes can one pick up on errors and identities and hopefully solve a few puzzles along the way.
The loco inside the engine shed, filmed at a disused colliery in the Somerset coalfield.
The loco bursts through the wooden shed doors as it begins its chase for the criminals
This particularly fine, back-lit, three-quarters rear shot shows the 4300 Class in closeup. Again, one can see the temporary removal of the Great Western lettering from the side of the tender.
And now for something a little different, this is the GWR Special Directors Saloon with Francis Sullivan standing on the verandah.
And this plush interior looks to be inside the saloon, and not a set.