1hr 13mins
Dir: Ted Tetzlaff
Starring: Glenn Ford and Anne Vernon

A saboteur places a bomb on an ammunition train

This crime thriller is not quite as tense or effective as it should have been but it is good all the same, even if it now lies sadly forgotten and largely overlooked despite being widely available. Understandably, it features some lengthy railway sequences. The terrorist smuggles a bomb aboard a night freight carrying naval mines from Birmingham to Portsmouth and hides under a tarpaulin in one of the wagons. There are good stunts that involve the saboteur moving around the wagons whilst the train is running, and there is a brief shot of an ex-LMS 8F 2-8-0 passing in the opposite direction. It is another 8F though in the form of No.48600 that provides the motive power for the ammunition train and it is very much the star of these scenes, with some very good atmospheric shots of the loco passing back and forth as it shunts the train into sidings. These sidings are those at the old Hammersmith & Chiswick Goods Depot, closed in 1965, though ‘Felsworth East’ was in fact Willesden Carriage Sidings South signal box, located in Willesden Brent Yard. The history behind Hammersmith & Chiswick Goods Depot is worth recalling. It opened as a passenger branch off the North & South Western Junction Railway between Acton Central and South Acton, but passenger services ceased as early as 1917. It remained open for freight until 1965 and was redeveloped in the 1980s. The sidings at the depot were crossed on a viaduct by the Piccadilly and District Railways just west of Stamford Brook station and this bridge forms the backdrop to a number of scenes. The sidings also crossed the Bath Road, and the level crossing and signal box at this location (called ‘Felsworth Siding’ in the film) are also seen towards the end. The terrorist, played by Victor Maddern, is later arrested by the railway police on Platform 5 of Portsmouth & Southsea (Low Level) station. There are some really good shots of the platforms and concourse, and of trains of Western Region suburban stock arriving behind ex-LSWR T9 Class 4-4-0 No.30732 and an ex-SR N Class 2-6-0. Earlier in the film there are some scenes on the concourse of the original Birmingham Snow Hill station and the use of locations in Birmingham and Portsmouth ties in nicely with the story, a rare attempt at effective continuity, though ‘Birmingham’ signal box seen at the beginning is believed to be one on the Chiswick branch. Finally, there is an additional scene filmed outside of an unknown station with a BR poster advertising Buxton unlikely to be a prop.

A shot that has been included for interest as it is central to the plot shows naval mines being wheeled out of a factory on little four wheel trollies
This lovely low-angle view is full of atmosphere and it shows 8F 2-8-0 No.48600 shunting its ammunition train. This is one of several similar views that appear in the film.
This is the 8F that passes in the opposite direction as the saboteur goes about his work. It may be No.48310 judging by the smokebox numberplate, or perhaps 4830?
A policeman wanders outside Birmingham Snow Hill station
Another view from Snow Hill station, which closed in 1972 only to be rebuilt and reopened fifteen years later
No.48600 draws to a stand adjacent to ‘Felsworth East’ signal box which was in fact Willesden Carriage Sidings South signal box located in Willesden Brent Yard
With an ex-Midland Railway brake van on the rear, the freight train pulls forward past the ‘box
No.48600 pushes its train into the siding at ‘Felsworth’. This is the old Hammersmith & Chiswick Goods Depot with the bridge carrying the London Underground lines visible above the locomotive.
This is the brief scene filmed outside the unknown railway station that appears in the film. It is probably somewhere on the Midland Region if the poster advertising Buxton is anything to go by. This could be Elstree & Borehamwood where some filming took place in this Elstree-based film.
This is the rarely glimpsed concourse of Portsmouth & Southsea station
Ex-LSWR T9 Class 4-4-0 No.30732 has just arrived in to Portsmouth and Southsea’s low-level bay platforms with a train. This appears to be wholly authentic in every detail. The stock is ex-GWR in origin so the sign above is correct in stating that this is the 5:22pm arrival from Oxford via Reading and Winchester. The T9 would likely have taken over from an ex-GWR loco at Reading for a run down to the Hampshire port. A snapshot in time captured for ever.
An unidentified ex-SR N Class 2-6-0 draws to a halt, as viewed through the platform barriers
Still unidentified, the N Class loco gets a brief respite from its exertions as the passengers begin to disembark at journeys end
Victor Maddern is the last passenger to alight. The ex-GWR coaching stock in the consist again suggests an inter-regional service.
The empty train sits rather forlornly in Portsmouth & Southsea’s low level platform 5 as Victor Maddern runs away from the pursuing police constable played by John Horsley
Glenn Ford and the train full of mines at Hammersmith & Chiswick Goods Depot. The somewhat overgrown siding suggests that this particularly part does not see regular use anymore.
Looking south towards the Goods Depot from the adjacent St. Nicholas’s Churchyard in Chiswick. Maurice Denham sits amongst the tombstones keeping a close eye on the ammunition train which can be seen through the bridge that carries the London Underground tracks over the yard.
Anne Vernon makes her way to Felsworth Siding. This is a view facing west from the level crossing where the line running between South Acton and Hammersmith & Chiswick Goods Depot crossed the Bath Road. Masquerading as ‘Felsworth Siding’, Bath Road Signal box is standing to the left.
In this final view looking north, Anne Vernon runs towards her husband as more wagons stand in the background beyond the London Underground bridge