1hr 53mins
Dir: Herbert Ross
Starring: Nicol Williamson and Vanessa Redgrave

To treat his friend’s cocaine induced delusions, Dr. Watson lures Sherlock Holmes to Vienna for a visit to Sigmund Freud

This lavish Anglo-American Sherlock Holmes story is based on the 1974 novel of the same name by Nicholas Meyer, but it wasn’t all that popular. The high-point is a spectacular chase sequence where Holmes and Watson pursue a villain (the Pasha, played by Gertan Klauber) on a steam train. The elaborate sequence was filmed on the Severn Valley Railway with locomotives that were vaguely disguised to look Austrian. Ian Bramble, who worked on the line, contacted me to explain how this complex set of events played out. There were four locos disguised. BR Ivatt 2MT 2-6-0’s No.s 46443 and 46521 were both disguised as No.60.116, whilst ex-LMS Class 5MT ‘Black Five’ 4-6-0 No.45110 and ex-LMS 8F Class 2-8-0 No.8233 were both disguised as No.90.116. The two Ivatts were painted Furness Railway brick red and look somewhat ‘foreign’ in their appearance. They faced in opposite directions to each other as did the ‘Black Five’ and the 8F. This meant that they could create the impression of one loco going in different directions, hoping nobody noticed the difference in the number of wheels of 90.116 (which morphed from a 4-6-0 to a 2-8-0)! 46521’s bell and chime whistle were not removed so these can be used to identify which Ivatt is which. A temporary ledge was fitted to the cabside to enable the stuntman (Holmes) to get from the cab to the running board. This sequence is fast-paced and a particular joy to watch, though it is not without process errors. The two trains converge on adjacent tracks even though Holmes has stated there are no points to do so, whilst the semaphore signal for the track on which the Pasha’s train runs is at ‘stop’. Most of the Severn Valley was used, and the scene where the two trains converge onto the same section of track necessitated the relaying of part of the old Stourport-on-Severn branch at Bewdley for aerial shots. The Pasha’s train was formed of two bogie-bolster wagons with plywood bodies attached, plus a funny little four-wheel open baggage truck, all painted in mock Pullman livery. Holmes’ train featured a similar carriage in red, and it is this carriage which gets broken up for firewood to supply fuel for the loco in a hilarious sequence of events. Recognisable locations on the Severn Valley Railway include Hampton Loade station, Bewdley station (which masqueraded as ‘Aspern’), Oldbury Viaduct between Bridgnorth and Eardington, the 44-yard long Knowlesands Tunnel, and the longer Bewdley Tunnel. Another station masqueraded as ‘Ortli’, but only a fleeting glimpse is seen at night so its exact identity remains a mystery though it could be Hampton Loade again. Several other locomotives are captured in these scenes, most notably ex-GWR 4500 Class 2-6-2T No.4566, ex-LNER K4 Class 2-6-0 No.3442, and ex-GWR 0-6-0ST No.813. The Austrian-Italian border post is located at the Bewdley end of the Victoria Bridge, but the pursuit continues after Holmes’ train smashes through the checkpoint barrier. Ian Bramble also gave some interesting footnotes regarding the filming. 46443 retained its 60.116 identity for a year after filming in order to generate publicity, but this unfortunately did not happen. Also, the ‘carriages’ that were broken up were built on two, 4-wheeled wagons that the film company bought from BR. These were ‘Flat ED’s’ No.s B906825 and B906830. After filming was over, they left them behind, and when asked when were they going to come and collect them they said they didn’t want them and that the SVR could keep them! They did, and they survive on the line to this day! Often overlooked is the earlier period scene filmed at York station with SECR D Class 4-4-0 No.737 and LNWR ‘Precedent’ Class 2-4-0 No.790 Hardwicke on trains. The pair were borrowed from the National Collection and are present in the station among much smoke and steam.

A smoky scene of York station at night, and LNWR ‘Precedent’ 2-4-0 No.790 Hardwicke is in the foreground
Whilst this closeup shot shows SECR D Class 4-4-0 No.737 being readied for departure
The Severn Valley sequence starts here at Bewdley. The locomotive on the right with the trio of headlamps is Ivatt 2-6-0 No.46521 as it is ‘facing south’. On the left is LNER K4 Class 2-6-0 No.3442. The small 0-6-0 saddle tank in front of the K4 is almost certainly GWR No.813.
The train carrying Sherlock Holmes consists of this Ivatt 2MT 2-6-0, No.46443, because it is travelling right to left with its drivers side to the camera. 46443 faced the opposite way during filming. Painted red and renumbered 60.116 for filming it looks decidedly like a locomotive of Continental Europe though the big brass ‘dustbin’ of a dome is fibreglass.
Having run out of coal, the crew resort to breaking up the brake van for fire wood!!
Sherlock Holmes spies the Pasha’s train
The train carrying Sherlock Holmes is in the cutting in the foreground, on the original Severn Valley Railway line from Hartlebury to Bewdley and beyond via Stourport-on-Severn. This line closed to passengers in 1970, but was relayed here in 1976 for the purposes of the film. The Pasha’s train in the background is on the old ‘Kidderminster Loop’, the remaining section of the Severn Valley Railway that is open today.
In a similar viewpoint, the Kidderminster route is on the left and the former Stourport line on the right
The Pasha’s train steams off the ‘Kidderminster Loop’ line hauled by ex-LMS Class 5MT ‘Black Five’ 4-6-0 No.45110, temporarily numbered 90.160 for filming
In hot pursuit is the train carrying Sherlock Holmes, steaming off the temporarily relaid Stourport line in the hands of Ivatt 2-6-0 No.46443.
In this view from the signal box at Hampton Loade, the ‘Black Five’ steams past with the Ivatt now close behind
This is the view from inside the signal box at Hampton Loade after both trains have passed, somewhat confusing the signalman! Through the windows of the box, a small tank loco can just be seen beyond the platform awaiting restoration.
Giving chase alongside the River Severn
‘Black Five’ 4-6-0 No.45110 on the Victoria Bridge. Note the elaborate mock-up carriage behind in fake Pullman livery.
As the camera pans back we see the surrounding countryside. The Ivatt is now crossing the bridge.
As it is no longer required, the remains of the brake van are uncoupled on the move. As one can see, it was reduced to little more than a frame on wheels!!
In this view from the footplate of the Ivatt the Pasha’s train is still in front, whilst coming the other way is a train hauled by the 8F.
As the chase heads towards its final conclusion the trains pass former GWR 4500 series 2-6-2T No.4566, standing in siding on the left of this shot
‘Black Five’ No.45110 steams across Oldbury Viaduct
Followed by the Ivatt 2-6-0 No.46443. Note the little 4-wheel baggage truck now attached to the front. This strange item is also in mock Pullman livery.
A lovely shot of Oldbury Viaduct from the stream that serves Daniel’s Mill. The ‘Black Five’ is perfectly captured between branches.