The Titfield Thunderbolt
Directed by: Charles Crichton
Writing credits: T.E.B. Clark
Tagline: The Comedy Hit of the Year!
Plot Outline: When a small rail branch line is threatened with closure, a group of villagers band together to run it themselves, in the face of opposition from a bus company.
Runtime: 84 min
Color: Color (Technicolor)
Sound Mix: Mono (RCA Sound System)
- Writer T.E.B. Clarke ("Tibby") was inspired to write the Titfield Thunderbolt saga after a 1951 visit to the volunteer-operated Talyllyn Railway, which carries passengers and slate along the Cambrian coast between Towyn and Abergynolwyn, in Wales. "The Titfield Thunderbolt" reflects Clarke's fascination with the volunteers' preservationist spirit there.
- 'Gregson, John' had never driven a car before making this film.
- The credited driver, fireman and guard were not actors, they were British Railways employees from Westbury depot and were originally to be uncredited extras. After director Charles Crichton spoke to them on location and realized they "looked and sounded the part", they were given speaking parts.
- The 'Thunderbolt' is a genuine veteran locomotive, its real name is 'Lion'. It was built for the Liverpool and Manchester railway in 1838, making it 115 years old when it was used in the film.
- The locomotive, "Lion" was damaged during filming when the carriage train is reunited with the locomotive. The rear frame was bent by the force of the impact. The damage was still visible in 2001.
- A wooden replica of "Lion" was made for the scene where "Thunderbolt" is removed from the museum.
- A replica locomotive was built on the chassis of a Bedford truck for the scene where the locomotive is seen driving down the road.
- Writer T.E.B. Clarke was a neighbor of Richard Beeching, then Director of ICI, at the time of filming. Beeching's 1963 report "The Re-shaping of British Railways" resulted in the wholesale closure of many branch lines like the one portrayed in the movie.
- The final scenes of Mallingford station were filmed at the Bath Road Bridge end of the main platform at Bristol Temple Meads station, Bristol, UK.
- The name Titfield created by T.E.B. Clarke the from the adjacent villages of Titsey and Limpsfield in Surrey.
In the last sequence, some men are playing cricket as the Titfield Thunderbolt makes its winning run to Mallingford. Abandoning their game, they rush to the embankment to see the train go by. The scene shows the batsman at the crease being distracted as the train appears in the distance, and being clean bowled as a result. However, although the bails on the wicket fall to the ground, the ball bowled by the bowler clearly sails more than a foot above the wicket.
Sam Weech: They can't close our line, it's unthinkable
Gordon: What about the old Canterbury-Whitstable line? They closed that.
Sam Weech: Perhaps there were not men of sufficient faith in Canterbury.
Valentine: [proposing a toast] Our magnificent generals, General Gordon and General Booth.
Mrs Valentine: Do you know what time it is?
Valentine: Yes, my love: summer double time.
On the Trail of The Titfield Thunderbolt
Frome to Bristol including the Camerton Branch and the "Titfield Thunderbolt"
Peto's Register of Great Western Railway Locomotives: Volume 3: 14XX and 58XX 0-4-2Ts
Rail over river(?) 28:06
Midford Rail over road :1:09:xx
Level Crossing high at the front -\- then cuves to front 31:15
Road over Rail Bridge road runs down in front 15:14
Curve road to rear 15:30
Road goes over rail 15:56
High embankment, road at front goes under rail 16:10
Cricket Pitch 1:17:12