THE INVISIBLE WOMAN

GB
2013
1hr 51mins
Dir: Ralph Fiennes
Starring: Ralph Fiennes and Felicity Jones

At the height of his career, the writer Charles Dickens meets a younger woman who becomes his secret lover until his death

This biographical drama was largely a success, though possibly only for those who are fans of the period genre. In real life, Charles Dickens and his lover were involved in the Staplehurst rail crash which killed 10 and this accident is portrayed in the film with some degree of authenticity. Filming took place on the Bluebell Railway one week in June 2012 (the crash had occured on 9th June 1865), using the Furness Railway Trust’s A5 Class 0-4-0 No.20 as no suitable working South Eastern Railway loco from the period was available. A rake of 7 wooden bodied coaches was used for the train but the crash scene used three replicas. The crash was staged on the old Ardingly embankment with No.20 and one coach on the rails, and the three replicas thrown down the embankment and smashed up. The sequence starts at Sheffield Park station, which is masquerading as ‘Folkestone’, the original departure point of the boat train involved in the crash. As a footnote, Dickens died five years to the day after the crash having never fully recovered from the mental trauma he received that day. The film was based on the book The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens by Claire Tomalin, which was published in 1990.

Posing as Folkestone, passengers board the boat train at Sheffield Park station
Wonderfully framed by an occupation bridge, Furness No.20 takes its train along the Bluebell Railway
The train steaming through a rather verdant cutting
The wrecked train lies at the foot of the embankment
This shot shows the astonishing authenticity of the replica coaching stock used to stage the crash. (thanks to the Bluebell Railway for this shot).