1hr 46mins
Dir: Richard Fleischer
Starring: Glenda Jackson and Daniel Massey

A film about the life of the tempestuous French actress Sarah Bernhardt

In this drama ‘London’ station, unusual in that no particular station is specified, is in fact the main engine shed at the Didcot Railway Centre with wooden platforms and a station ‘frontage’ added by the film company. Victorian GWR four-wheel Dean Third No.975 and GWR Dean Third Clerestory No.1941 were provided as stock and there are some very good shots of GWR ‘Manor’ Class 4-6-0 No.7808 Cookham Manor. Both the loco and carriages had additional LC&DR lettering applied and although this is a largely successful and somewhat atmospheric attempt at a recreation of a Victorian railway scene, the only real problem is that the loco was not built until 1938, fifteen years after Sarah’s death! GWR four-wheel non-vent Riding Van No.56 and GWR four-wheel non-vent Tool Van No.135 are also visible in the background of one shot. There are some additional scenes filmed onboard Victorian coaches and some indistinct views of trains at night, one crossing a viaduct, but it is not clear where these were filmed or what they depict.

Cookham Manor pulls into London which was in fact the main engine shed at Didcot
Glenda Jackson looks out of the window as the train pulls into London. Incidentally, London Bridge station opened in December 1836 as plain London as it was the first station in the capital to be opened. Could it really be the case that somebody on the production team knew this and therefore used the name here? GWR four-wheel non-vent Tool Van No.135 is also visible.
Victorian opulence at its very best. Railway carriage interiors really were once this grand.
Victorians gather at London station to mark Sarah Bernhardt’s departure. She is stood on the front buffer beam of No.7808 Cookham Manor, seen in the background.
A closer shot of Glenda Jackson posing on the front of the GWR ‘Manor’ at Didcot
As ‘The Incredible Sarah’ (or should that be ‘The Incredible Glenda’) walks down the platform the crew of the loco look on in awe from the footplate
No.7808 Cookham Manor stands ready for departure. Note the ‘mock’ station frontage added to the shed building. For a preservation site that is not actually home to a proper station, Didcot has done remarkably well over the years in its reproduction of authentic railway scenes.
Didcot Railway Centre as a location for filming
This familiar shot, courtesy of the Didcot Railway Centre, shows Glenda Jackson in all her finery during filming of the movie.