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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 46 - Spring / Summer 1982

Jewel in the Crown

The Granada Television Filming


Here's news of action in the late summer. We now know that filming is due to start on 6th September at Quainton and will continue to the end of that month, with the option of an extension of time to mid-October. Before that, in July and August, the site will resound to the construction of replicas of Indian railway stations and carriages - and there will be a lot of other activities in the up yard preparing for the cameras to roll. What is the background to these exciting events?

For us it started last autumn, when Ian Scaif, Granada's Director, approached the Society and visited the Quainton site several times to consider its suitability for his purpose, for a location for some important railway sequences in The Raj Quartet. There were four aspects of our depot which appealed to him: firstly, there was enough space for the work; secondly, we do not run an operational railway; third, there are no buildings at the south end of the yard; finally - and this may come as a surprise to Buckinghamshire folk - he thought the view looking towards Aylesbury along the up yard headshunt was typical of an Indian landscape, because there are no large trees (since the ravages of Dutch Elm disease), no houses or chimneys, simply a railway stretching away into the far distance.

Granada will erect the two Indian stations in our up yard while location filming is taking place in India - and further outdoor work, mostly to do with the massacre which is a prominent part of the story, will then continue at Quainton. This feature film will be shown on television as a series in early 1983 - and is the most ambitious and expensive filming ever undertaken expressly for television anywhere in the world, even more than Brideshead Revisited!

It is intended to build the two stations in such a way as will cause the minimum of inconvenience to ourselves, while allowing trains to depart from the stations in the most realistic way possible. All station filming will take place on the station platforms and from the rear of departing trains, the latter will avoid the use of authentic locomotives at Quainton, and departing shots will be of real trains shot in India.

Station One will be built in the vicinity of the King's tender and boiler; Station Two in the vicinity of 7200 / horse box area. Both stations will have platforms of the low level type, as in India, built up of sleepers covered in tarmac. Station buildings will be typical film scenery mounted on scaffolding.

Station One will be smaller and the rail track in the station will set back and use the existing running track in order to be out of line of sight for trains departing from Station Two. The station ' buildings' will extend over the tracks leading into the up yard building and an Indian level crossing will be built over the existing crossing to the VAMES site to yet another important part of the film sequence.

Station Two platform will be built over the existing running track and trains in this station will use the present reception siding. This station will have an ornamental canopy which will extend over the station platform and track. BR have agreed that we may move our boundary fence over to our legal boundary, i.e. along the inner rail of our reception siding, during the time the sets are being built - this will not allow our trains to pass this point, but will enable all construction work to be carried out without trespass onto the BR operating line. It will also save moving the majority of our existing engines, as they will become part of the station buildings; for example, it is intended to build a waiting room around the King boiler, with access doors to the station between the various items of rolling stock. Every effort will be made to avoid moving anything, but if this does become necessary Granada will be responsible for all movement and replacement costs, cranes, etc. - and, if the item is privately owned, with the permission of the owners, through our liaison man (more later).

It is an important part of the filming that trains can depart into 'the distance' from both stations. We have agreed to relay our up yard headshunt in time for the filming and Granada have agreed to supply, free of charge, the sleepers to enable us to do this. In order that trains may 'depart' from the reception siding, the existing buffer stop will be removed by us and the track slewed over to join our existing running line - if possible by means of a new point - or, if not, a temporary slew.

The QRS have purchased, on behalf of Granada, four bogie bolster wagons, upon which will be built Indian coach bodies - these will become our property after filming (more information on these vehicles later).


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Photo:
J R Fairman - The Reception Line before Fence Realignment


As part of Station Two will be built upon what is still technically BR land, QRS have agreed to rent this area from BR, together with a piece adjacent to the GPO telephone exchange, which will be used by Granada for mobile offices etc. for the four summer months. The following timetable has been agreed:

From 5th July Quainton appointed Gordon Rodwell as the responsible person, full time, to act as Liaison Man between Granada on site and QRS. He is responsible for looking after the interests of QRS, Mr Evans, private owners and BR.

Also from 5th July Granada started construction of the film sets by erecting scaffolding for the station platforms. Delivery of the mobile offices also started - and Roddy will have placed these in their agreed positions. He will also see that any QRS or private owners' property is only moved after negotiation with owners and that Mr Evans' coal stocks are not damaged and readily accessible. Another of our liaison man's jobs is to ensure that nobody trespasses beyond our fencing and onto the BR operating line. At weekends and in the light evenings he will have the assistance of two casual security persons, also employed by QRS.

The building of the sets will continue during August and it is anticipated that QRS may employ a further person to be responsible for night time security.

All QRS / BR fencing will remain in place during this time and the QRS liaison man will be responsible for preventing trespass.

Filming will commence on Monday, 6th September. From this date the QRS fencing alongside the reception siding and BR running line will be removed. Granada will employ the services of a full-time BR employee to act as look-out whenever filming is taking place or it is necessary to pass on to the BR operating land. It is anticipated that some lighting towers etc. will be erected in the QRS down yard to shine across the set - and it will be the responsibility of our liaison man to organise access for this from our down yard gate and that any crossing between the two yards only takes place with the permission of the BR look-out.

Due to the value of the equipment on site during the four weeks of filming, it is expected that Granada may additionally employ the services of a private security firm for this period. The QRS liaison man will be especially responsible for coordinating this, to ensure there is no conflict of interest between Granada, QRS, its members and the visiting public.

At the end of filming, which it is anticipated will be by 30th September, the QRS / BR fence along the reception siding will be replaced and the services of the BR look-out man dispensed with. The set will be dismantled during October. It has been agreed that once any reusable equipment has been removed by Granada QRS will be allowed to have anything remaining - and, on this basis, will assist in cleaning up the site. It will be the responsibility of the QRS liaison man to organise this - most probably by the employment of local casual labour to recover any reusable material and to burn or dispose of the remainder. Granada will be responsible for all costs of casual labour and transport if necessary.

In general, we are looking forward to a most interesting and, with careful planning, profitable summer. We must accept some disruption of our normal activities, but it will be the function of the liaison man to ensure that this is kept to a minimum. Granada are paying us a fee for being on our property and there will be a number of 'spin offs' by way of materials from which the stations will be built, the payment for the sleepers to relay our headshunt, the bogie bolsters and a great deal of free publicity.

Granada are quite agreeable to us giving plenty of publicity to their activities on our site and the presence of a full size film set at Quainton will surely be a considerable additional attraction. We must not forget that the set will cost Granada a great deal of money and those erecting it and using it for filming will be professionals, who will not have the time to enter into disputes over the positioning of scaffolding, cables, etc. It will be the duty of our liaison man to look after our interests and we must all accept his decision. As a general principle, it has been agreed that, during the building of the sets, we must all work together to not get in each other's way - every effort will be made not to restrict access to our relics, but if it becomes essential for a few weeks to discontinue work on a given item we will have to do so. This is too good an opportunity for us to do any other and the financial rewards too great to not suffer some inconvenience. During September and actual filming Granada must be given priority, the exceptions being that Mr Evans must always have access to his coal stocks or to have given his permission, through our liaison man, for this to be denied to any particular section - and our members having general access to the yard. Obviously, if the King boiler is built into the station waiting room, we cannot allow the appearance of two characters carrying boiler tubes across the platform in the middle of the Indian mutiny! It should be remembered, however, that most of the filming will be during the week days when we are not normally at Quainton.

The other condition agreed with Granada is that we will still have our site open to the public and be able to hold our Public Open Days. Nothing will be done to prevent us working trains in the down yard - and any lighting towers etc. will be placed away from our running line. Car parking will be reduced in the up yard, but every effort will be made to keep as much space as possible available for visitors cars, especially at weekends - another duty of our liaison man. We must accept that we will be denied stock movements in the up yard once the sets are built and during the month of filming.

Preparatory work in hand as this article is being written is:

  1. Laying the up yard headshunt.
  2. Slewing the end of the reception siding and removing the existing buffer stops.
  3. The purchase and delivery, on behalf of Granada, of five 50 ft bogie bolster wagons. Originally the intention was to obtain four 60ft wagons, but they were not to be found!
  4. Moving the QRS / BR boundary fence alongside the reception siding - after it is moved it will not be possible to use the reception siding for delivery of stock from BR or for demonstration steaming.
  5. All stock and loco movements will have ceased in the up yard once set building has started and it is generally anticipated that only limited movement associated with the filming will take place during the months of June, July, August and September.

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Photo:
J M Hutchings - 18th June 1982- Wagon 64 arrives


Although good progress had been made by the end of June on items 1 and 2 of the preparatory work, the most obvious change to the scene in the up yard was the presence of the five bogie bolster wagons. These were delivered by road from British Steel Corporation, Corby, by Brackmills. Two, Nos. 64 and 66, were from the Tube Works and three, Nos. 97, 98 and 99, are branded for Scrap Bar Traffic Only. When they arrived all were painted in the yellow colour commonly used by BSC. The five wagons are all similar to GWR Swindon Macaw B bogie bolsters, but all the original builders and number plates have long ago been removed, so we are not able to give the GW identities of the new arrivals. The 50 ft long steel wagons were never fitted with vacuum brakes, but there are hand brakes on the bogies. The frames are trussed with four angle steel trusses and they retain the GW rings and hooks for securing loads. BSC built onto the frames steel plate decking and each wagon has three fabricated and rivetted steel supporting cradles, as well as steel plate end sections, so as to make the vehicles suitable for the internal system at Corby.

The typical GWR rivetted steel plate bogies on 64 and 66 have pairs of coil springs on each side, while the other three wagons have bogies with single heavier coal springs. Each wagon tares about 16½ tons. Some of the bolster wagons must have been in BR service until the early 1970s judging by the repair plates they carry. For example, No. 97 was repaired in August 1972, 98 in 1973 and 99 in March 1969.


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Photo:
J R Fairman - Double and Single Spring GWR Bogies


One other difference is on No. 64 which has, at one end of the body, the normal hexagon nuts replaced by patent shrouded fastenings.

So, at the end of June, all is nearly ready for Granada to arrive, for the construction of the sets to start and for Quainton (Quetta?!) to become a part of India. The stars cast for the film are Dame Peggy Ashcroft, Eric Porter, Tim Piggott-Smith, Geraldine James, Judy Parfitt and Rachael Kempson. It will be an exciting summer. I hope Roddy gets over it!


Notes:
The text in this Quainton Railway Society publication was written in 1982 and so does not reflect events in the 32+ years since publication. The text and photographs are repeated verbatim from the original publication, with only a few minor grammar changes but some clarifying notes are added if deemed necessary. The photos from the original publication are provided as scans in this internet version of this long out of print publication.

Reference:
The Granada Television Filming - Quainton News No. 46 - Spring / Summer 1982


Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
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