TREAD SOFTLY STRANGER

GB
1958
1hr 30mins
Dir: Gordon Parry
Starring: George Baker and Diana Dors

Two brothers in a northern town rob a steel works

This gritty northern crime drama was adapted from the 1953 stage play Blind Alley by Jack Popplewell, and it really is rather good. It features a number of atmospheric railway scenes, and these start out with a cropped image of an ex-GWR ‘Castle’ Class 4-6-0 on an express with stencil headcode 167. Soon after this, George Baker gets off the train at ‘Rawborough’, actually a very rare view of Parkgate & Rawmarsh station, Rotherham, which closed on 1st January 1968. The train is hauled by an ex-LMS Class 4P ‘Compound’ 4-4-0 No.41143 and there are further shots of the station approach road and the station hotel on Aldwarke Road. Most of the action takes place in the Park Gate Iron and Steel Company’s works and there are quite a number of shots that feature industrial 0-4-0 saddle tanks shunting trains and moving about in the yard. There is one good shot early on in the film of Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST No.28 crossing Aldwarke Road with a coal train. Later in the film there is a night shot of an ex-LNER 0-6-0 tender loco reversing a mineral train over a canal bridge, and a murky daytime shot of a mixed freight hauled by an ex-LMS Class 8F 2-8-0. It is not known exactly where either of these later scenes were filmed, but it is believed to be in the same area around Rotherham and Parkgate.

This is the opening railway shot, but it does not get any better. The loco is an ex-GWR ‘Castle’ working an express on the Western Region with headcode 167 on the front.
This is better. A lot better. Ex-LMS Class 4P ‘Compound’ 4-4-0 No.41143 pulls into Parkgate & Rawmarsh station, Rotherham. The station, playing the part here of one called ‘Rawborough’, closed on New Year’s Day 1968, though the line is still open. The locomotive meanwhile was withdrawn in March 1959, less than a year after filming, but Bachmann produced it as an OO-gauge model that was released during 2020!
This is the station approach road outside Parkgate & Rawmarsh station, with the houses of Aldwarke Terrace in the background
George Baker walks past the entrance to the Station Hotel with the railway bridge crossing Aldwarke Road in the background
The industrial railways of Britain were the heartbeat of the economy, but they were so often overlooked. This brilliant shot tries to make amends and it shows Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST No.28 (W/no.1987/1930) crossing Aldwarke Road with a coal train. Note the policemen keeping guard. Thanks to Ian Bendall of the Industrial Railway Society for confirming the identity of the loco.
A similar saddle tank passes by in extreme closeup in this scene that was probably filmed inside the Park Gate works
Another wonderful atmospheric view shows yet another 0-4-0 saddle tank standing on a short train. The lighting and shadows in this shot really complement the locomotive’s steam.
An ex-LNER 0-6-0 tender loco slowly propels its mineral train across a canal bridge. The cabside number is not readable, but judging by what is on offer, the loco is ex-Great Central in origin, either a Class J10 or a J11.
One final industrial scene shows this saddle tank shunting vigorously in a yard as George Baker and Terence Morgan lurk next to a coal wagon on the left
In this shot outside ‘the works’ a freight passes by in the background haze. The shape and size of the locomotive suggests it is likely to be an ex-LMS 8F 2-8-0.