THE TITFIELD THUNDERBOLT – A PICTORIAL TRIBUTE TO THE 1953 FILM The classic opening shot in the film is also the only shot of a former Southern Railway service, as all else is centred around the former Great Western. Bulleid ‘West Country’ Class 4-6-2 No.34043 Combe Martin passes over Midford Viaduct with the tiny Midford station visible in the background. The branch train passing through Midford Vale. The loco running bunker first is an ex-GWR 0-4-2 tank with a ‘Toad’ brake van, cattle van, and former Wisbech & Upwell Tramway coach forming the consist. The branch train to Titfield runs along the overgrown track that was in fact the former Limpley Stoke-Camerton branch. The branch had already closed, and this would be the final time it would ever see a train. A fitting tribute. Today, the line has been completely erased from the landscape. The delightful Monkton Combe station, everything that Titfield purports to be, just one of hundreds of small country stations that offered little in the way of passenger revenue until they were closed by BR. Driver Ted Burbidge of Westbury shed. I do not believe that the neckerchief was part of uniform standards but he is clearly one of life’s characters that the railway so successfully bred and nurtured! In this very English of scenes, the branch train steams along through the countryside. It is perhaps sobering to think that the gnarled old oak tree in the foreground was old even when the railway arrived, and then out lasted its entire operational life to still be standing long after the last train had passed……. As the train emerges from beneath the bridge its competition runs along the road above in the form of a lovely old Bedford OB bus, operated in the film by Pearce & Crump. This is Brassknocker Bridge, near Limpley Stoke. The pair race each other through the village of Midford. The viaduct seen in the opening shot forms the back drop and the trackbed of the branch appears to have had the grass cut! Where once two railways passed through this village now there are none, as the Somerset & Dorset route closed in 1966 though the viaduct still stands. The branch train is captured passing through a cutting on the approach to a road overbridge George Relph on Monkton Combe platform, tidied up for filming and therefore giving the station one final fling before it disappeared forever. In fact, it was probably the busiest it had been since the opening day!! Ex-GWR 0-4-2 tank No.1401 is captured with its makeshift engine shed. The locomotive’s identity is probably correct, though for continuity purposes a second 1400 Class tank in the form of No.1456 was temporarily renumbered 1401 during the production. Another shot of the loco standing at Monkton Combe The Camerton branch had its own Midford Viaduct, which passed on an east-west axis beneath the much larger Somerset & Dorset structure, which ran north-south. Here the branch train is framed between trees as it crosses the smaller of the two. ‘Steaming through the valley’. This scene probably changed very little from the opening of the line. No other film shows the delights of an English country branch line better than this production. The train has now stopped to take on water The classic steam roller / steam loco battle scene was filmed at the site of the old Dunkerton Colliery near Carlingcott. The steam roller used was a 1904 Aveling & Porter 5 n.h.p. 10ton Type R10 Steam Road Roller named Maid Marion, a vehicle that is still extant today. The old Fish Dock at Bristol Temple Meads, playing the part of the Titfield bay platform at Mallingford. As No.1401 arrives with its train a couple of GWR 4-6-0’s stand in the background. With Naunton Wayne alighting from the train before it has come to a stand we get a good glimpse of just how filthy No.1401 actually was! 1400 Class 0-4-2T No.1462 on the turntable at Oxford shed In this shot, Hugh Griffith is in the cab whilst Stanley Holloway works the turntable Being released back into the wild, Lion is removed from the museum. Not quite. The Liverpool & Manchester locomotive that played Thunderbolt was deemed to vulnerable for such an act and this instead is a full scale model of the locomotive made by the production team. The building is the now demolished Imperial Institute in South Kensington. Looking more like a Victorian lithograph than a shot from a major Ealing production this, none the less, is the real deal. Lion and her equally archaic train stand at Monkton Combe ‘engine shed’. As the train departs we get a good view of a packed Monkton Combe. If it had ever been this busy in real life it wouldn’t have had to close in 1925 just fifteen years after opening in 1910. A lovely shot of Lion, masquerading as Thunderbolt for the film, the Liverpool & Manchester 0-4-2 was something of a film star at the time but the 1838-built loco has now been retired. Having become separated from its train, the Titfield Thunderbolt continues merrily on its way, blissfully unaware of the ensuing panic Another wonderful shot of Lion pulling away from her water stop There is a short sequence in the film whereby Lion‘s progress is checked from the front. Presumably, a camera was mounted on a rail trolley which ran ahead of the main train and allowed for this rather interesting spectacle. Midford Viaduct again forms the backdrop. Lion passes a farm and frightens the chickens in the process Lion joins the main line at Fishers Crossing near Limpley Stoke Before a much faster service passes on the main line hauled by an ex-GWR 2-6-0 of some sort, probably a 4300 Class What a ‘cop’ this must have been for the local spotters. The 114-year old Lion runs into the Fish Dock at Bristol Temple Meads, forming a rather incongruous sight in doing so. More standard fare in the form of an unidentified ‘Hall’ stands in the dock behind. As Huw Griffith and Stanley Holloway are dragged off to court for stealing a locomotive, a ‘Castle’ Class 4-6-0 can be seen in the background This proud pair are probably a Bath Road crew, and they are intently watching the unfolding events from the cab of their loco Having won the Light Railway Order and therefore permission to run their railway, Lion‘s whistle is blown in celebration of the event. Unfortunately, and try as I might, I can not make out the identity of the ‘Castle’ Class in the adjacent platform. And we draw to a close with this final shot of Lion standing in the Fish Dock at the western end of Bristol Temple Meads station. A veritable feast of GWR traction is ‘on hand’ in the background, most of it unidentifiable! The locos in the far distance are standing on Bath Road depot.