1hr 04mins
Dir: Alfred Hitchcock
Starring: John Stuart and Anne Grey

A gang of thieves gather at a safe house after a jewel robbery, but a detective is on their trail

This early Hitchcock thriller is based on a stage play by J. Jefferson Farjeon and although it starts rather slowly it builds up to an excellent railway chase sequence in the latter half that ends with a spectacular crash. In the story, the gang have hidden their jewels in an old house that stands over a railway leading to the English Channel, the film’s title being derived from the house’s street number. The thieves board a night ferry goods train bound for Harwich with the intention of getting across to the Continent. The initial scenes feature some good floodlit shots of King’s Cross Goods Yard close to Copenhagen Tunnels, with LNER Class A1 4-6-2 No.2547 Doncaster on a freight and an LNER J52 Class 0-6-0ST also visible. No. 2547 becomes the train loco for most of the chase sequence with John Stuart in hot pursuit on a Greenline bus which is keeping pace! This was filmed at night on the Hertford Loop line with plenty of action involving actors jumping from wagon to wagon, filmed from an adjacent train fitted with great banks of arc lights to help illuminate the entire scene. Eventually the crooks get to the cab of the A1, disable the crew, and takeover the train in order to gain time. This ends up in disaster as they don’t know how to drive it and they end up crashing into the train ferry. As the train hits the ferry it smashes into wagons already aboard, causing them to be flung in all directions which results in the ferry breaking its moorings and beginning to sink, dropping some more wagons into the sea. This sequence involved building a massive O-gauge model of the train, ferry and terminal at the Shepherds Bush studios, and using Bassett-Lowke and Bond equipment. The result of all this was one of the most effective and quite brilliant crash scenes of its time. Although it is now obviously quite basic and outdated it does in no way detract from the excitement of the last twenty minutes of this sadly neglected film. After being available only in poor-quality prints for decades, the film was released in high quality DVD format in 2005. Though the opening credits confirm the picture’s title is Number Seventeen, much of the promotional material refers to it as Number 17.

This appears to be a Bassett-Lowke model, but it goes some way to showing just how careful the production crew have been in making the model scenes look realistic
This is the real thing. King’s Cross goods yard at night and A1 Class 4-6-2 No.2547 Doncaster blows of steam on the right. What appears to be a J52 0-6-0ST is on the left.
This is a closer view of the saddle tank loco
John Stuart fails to get aboard the freight which disappears into a tunnel. Is this Copenhagen Tunnel? He has to resort to hijacking a Greenline bus!!
No.2547 is central to the plot, and there are numerous closeup shots of the loco and its freight steaming along the line. Here it passes through a station, which is thought to be somewhere on the Hertford Loop where a lot of filming took place in LNER days, most famous of which was of course the brilliant Flying Scotsman from 1929.
In a view from a forward-facing camera we pass through another station…..
….just as one of the gang makes his way down the train passing from wagon to wagon
Both the ‘A1 Pacific’ and the ‘T-Type AEC Regal’ bus in this scene are models. I wouldn’t normally include this but it is central to the plot, and, surprisingly realistic given the standards of the day.
The criminal gang in the cab of No.2547