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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 40 - Spring 1980
Pop Video - The Tourists - So Good to be Back Home
The Tourists in Concert - At Quainton - Tony Lyster
The yard lights illuminate the scene. Coventry No. 1 is in steam. Under the water tower, where the stove and boiler have been burning since lunch-time, two inch icicles hang from the leather bag and Jack Frost's work is to be seen on the windows of the vintage coaches and on the sleepers. The ever present pool of water under the water tower is thinly frozen over. A red light shows where the end of the vintage train is towards Aylesbury, as two swinging oil lamps indicate the presence of the driver and fireman as they return to the yard. Soon Coventry No. 1 moves slowly off No. 3 road to coal up, A police car swings into the yard, its lights illuminating the shadows and pulls up near L44's grounded boiler.
I approach to explain the situation and he takes my name and address - his curiosity partly satisfied - I think he reckons we must be mad - we probably are! It's 11.45 pm on Saturday, 12th January and the temperature is several degrees below freezing.
Three quarters of an hour later, the coaling finished, Coventry No. 1 returns to the water tower and the train re-enters the platform. The lamps are extinguished, peace returns again, the coaling up gang retire to the mess-room for a brew-up and then to bed - all except one - Allan Vigar, who makes regular visits to the engine as it simmers through the night in the darkened yard.
At 5.45 am bodies re-emerge to join Allan and assist the shunting of No. 1 road which will be needed during the day. Lamps are relit, the yard lights switched on and, after the diesel has taken the coaches towards Aylesbury, Coventry moves off to take the Great Central coach and three or four locos up to the Wembley spur.
At 6.15 am someone approaches, brush in hand. He can be seen painting, the circle of bright white light from his LMS acetylene lamp highlighting the fresh posters pasted up only eight hours earlier and the black paint filling in the untidy surrounds.
Slowly the dawn comes up in a miraculously cloudless sky. An erection gang, the producer and, later, a camera crew arrive. In the meantime, the lights in the refreshment coach have come on and very welcome sandwiches, bourne by Jo Boait, appear. A stage is being built on the Brill platform.
The guard for the day begins to check his train in the usual fashion - vacuum pipes, couplings, sweep the compartments, check the wheels are all there and what about the axleboxes? - good grief, they're frozen! Fortunately, the timings are running late, which gives enough time to chip some ice from each box and replace it with a pool of oil, some of which is liberally spread over the pod the axle bearing turns in. Then it was off to the mess-room for a wash and change into uniform.
Filming began shortly after, with a camera crew perched on the diesel's front buffer beam. The diesel then slowly departed in the direction of Aylesbury, to be followed by Coventry a few yards behind. After several takes of this, shots of the group, The Tourists, singing Good to be Back Home, inside the coach were taken - after the windows had been sprayed with de-icer. It was soon obvious that a pile of sand on the platform was going to be in the way and the scene that followed was really quite amusing. If you have ever dug frozen sand you will understand what I mean. I have a somewhat dingy photo of five or six members, including the Chairman, wielding picks and shovels to clear the pile, watched by an assorted array of bemused film extras trying to avoid the splinters of sand that were flying up.
The days filming continued without further incident, other than the sight of about fifty of the extras jumping in unison to the music on the footbridge, watched by some rather worried members. The footbridge was taken down for major repairs the following Sunday - it was not cause and effect! The band played a few times on the stage, with the extras and anyone else available dancing in front of them, while the train simmered in the platform - what would the Duke of Buckingham and Chandos have thought?
Many people were involved in the preparations and work for the filming - but, above all, I would like to thank Allan Vigar who spent Friday and Saturday hurriedly reassembling Coventry No. 1, as she had been stripped down the previous weekend after the Christmas steaming! I hope we have to do this successful and profitable job again, but please - not at such short notice - it does involve a lot of work.
The results of the films first appeared on television on Saturday, 2nd February in the morning programmes on BBC1 Multi Coloured Swap Shop and ITV London Weekend Tiswas.
Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
Page Updated: 17 November 2017