The Gold Express (1955) - IMDb

Dirs: Guy Fergusson and Colin Bell
Starring: Vernon Gray and Ann Walford

A news reporter foils a planned robbery of gold onboard an overnight sleeper train

This little known and rarely seen Rank ‘quota-quickie’ thriller is based on the 1955 novel of the same name by Jackson Budd and is set almost entirely around a railway journey. Stanmore Village station, terminus of the now long forgotten former LNWR suburban branch from Harrow & Wealdstone was used for some night shots, with an ex-LMS sleeping-car and Mk.1 parcels van No.1005 being borrowed from BR for the scenes. The various shots of expresses that appear throughout the course of the film are varied and mixed, though some are stock shots filmed originally for Train of Events (1949 qv). The shots are all taken at dusk or night, not ideal for loco identification, but seem to include a ‘Princess Royal’ 4-6-2 at London Euston, a ‘Jubilee’ Class 5XP leaving Euston with a titled express, an unknown train crossing a viaduct on an express (from Train of Events), one ‘Royal Scot’ passing over a level crossing (again from Train of Events), a couple of ‘Black Five’ 4-6-0’s, five different shots of rebuilt ‘Royal Scot’ or ‘Patriot’ 4-6-0’s, one ‘Jubilee’ 4-6-0, one ‘Duchess’ 4-6-2 and one BR ‘Britannia’ Class 7MT 4-6-2. Quite a good collection of historical shots that depict practically every type of former LMS express passenger loco! The ‘Britannia’ is the odd one out and was relatively new at the time. As the train is brought to an emergency stop, the bottom three-quarters of ex-LMS ‘Duchess’ Class 4-6-2 No.6253 City of St Albans briefly comes into view, a shot possibly taken from A Journey for Jeremy (1949 qv). A number of stations appear in these shots, which are unidentified, but there is a brief night shot of London Paddington station towards the beginning, though no trains are visible. Stanmore Village station, which appears to be called both ‘Northborough’ and ‘Hamwood’ in the film, had closed to passengers on 15th September 1952 but remained open for freight until 6th July 1964. So, what of the film itself? Well, it really isn’t very good. The plot is flimsy and the acting bad, with some rather lame characters, but it is no worse than many B movie shorts that were produced at the time, which makes The Flying Scot (qv) all the more exceptional. The sound effects are pretty good, if a little repetitive at times, and one does get the impression that a reasonable attempt was made at making the railway scenes work, but when the train initially departs, the sensation of movement is simply made by the guard walking backwards to board his van! Nevertheless, this cheap technique is surprisingly effective!! As the shots of the trains are at night only those which clearly show the locomotives are included below. There are also several other shots in the film of just the wheels and running gear of passing expresses and these too have been excluded.

Platform 1 of Paddington station at night
Bathed in a pool of light, the station staff go about their business. This is Stanmore Village station.
This brilliant shot appears twice in the film, and seems to show a ‘Princess Royal’ 4-6-2 at London Euston. Only 13 of these monsters were built, and few have appeared on film.
A ‘Jubilee’ is captured leaving Euston with a titled express. The now demolished Ampthill Square road overbridge is in the foreground.
An express crosses a viaduct at night. This image appeared first in Train of Events (1949) but I am at a loss as to what it depicts.
Under clear signals and a cloudy sky, an express heads off into the night. A signal box stands on the left and a station platform is on the right. The ‘hawkseye’ running-in board shows that it is a former Midland station.
An express passes through an unknown station, hauled by either a ‘Royal Scot’ or a ‘Patriot’ 4-6-0
A ‘Black Five 4-6-0 passes at speed. The curious item on the left is in fact a counterweight for the signal arm.
An express thunders through a station, a shot that has been included for interest value as the passage of the train is viewed from the signal box interior
What appears to be an unnamed ‘Patriot’ passes a quite substantial signal box. The disc signal in the right hand foreground is used for shunting.
Later on in the film we get a clearer glimpse of the box, which really is quite a size. The loco on this occasion is a ‘Duchess’ 4-6-2.
An express hauled this time by a ‘Britannia’ Class 4-6-2 passes through another unidentified station, though the footbridge should be a clue to tying down an identity
The loco in this shot appears to be another ‘Royal Scot’. The signal box nameboard reads Kilburn No.1.
Kilburn No.1 again, and probably another ‘Royal Scot’
I would say that the locomotive captured here passing over a level crossing is another ‘Royal Scot’. The locomotive’s nameplate visible immediately to right of the gate post looks to be a large Regimental one. This shot had earlier appeared in The Man in the White Suit (1951) and reappeared later in Six-Five Special (1958).
With its wheels locked, ‘Duchess’ Class 4-6-2 No.6253 City of St Albans skids to a stop
This shot of the frontage to Stanmore Village station appears right at the end of the film, playing the part of the fictional ‘Hamwood’ on this occasion.
A lot of the scenes onboard the trains in this film use the real thing. The interior of this BR Mk.1 brake compartment for instance seems too authentic to be a set.