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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 47 - Autumn 1982

Jewel in the Crown

The Granada Television Filming - Part II

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J R Fairman - Coventry No. 1 steams past Premanagar - 30th August 1982

In Part I, in Quainton News No. 46, I wrote an article detailing the preliminary arrangements made for Granada's filming and gave the anticipated programme for the Summer. Now we know what really happened! Let it be said, straight away, that the whole operation was a considerable achievement and was successfully completed, we hope, to Granada's satisfaction.

Site activities started for Gordon Rodwell, our liaison man, at the end of June, when Granada's Construction Unit representative from Manchester, Peter Avery, arrived to make arrangements for accommodation, cranage and for scaffolding. The scaffolders for the small station, Mitra, came on 6th and a fork lift truck for moving sleepers. It had started!

The first surprise was to find that Granada's site plans showed that a larger area was required than originally envisaged. This meant that a lot more Quainton stock had to be moved than we had expected. On 3rd July the Planet and one Sentinel had been busy repositioning stock, including the Toad, a Mk I coach (which needed a minor track slew to clear 9466) and Osram. 6989's boiler was craned over and plans were made to shift other items thought to be affected.

In the middle of all this activity we had stock arrivals! On 5th July the Esso tank car was delivered to the down yard and Mike Lawrence's transporter brought the two coaches over from Bicester MOD on the following day. The Gresley was put into the down side and the LMS coach in the up yard ready for its role as an additional covered area for refreshments.

All plans were now being directed to a 'big lift' day on Sunday 11th July. A 45-ton giant crane from Marsh Hire moved 6989's boiler with ease, in three 'steps', to its new position and another crane lifted and turned 7715's frames and lifted the boiler back on. Robin carried out a complex planned shunting operation with the Sentinel successfully and more lifting was done. The Hall's frames were taken from the adjoining track and towed up to the horse box end. The tender was towed up to 7200 and then lifted onto sleepers. The Lewisham footbridge was also placed into a tidy position. On the 12th the remaining bits of the Hall were moved off the track and 7200's connecting rod was shifted. The PW Wickham trolley was taken from the down yard and moved to the up yard. So far so good - most of the Quainton movements were complete. Only 9466 remained a problem, because it was off its wheels, which were away at Bridgnorth for attention by the Severn Valley Railway. And 9466 was right in the middle of Mitra station!

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J R Fairman - Mitra with 9466 at the platform - 30th August 1982

While the scaffolders went ahead with the construction of the 'bones' of No. 2 station, Mitra, our thoughts turned to the bogie bolster wagons we had purchased from BSC Corby. There were, of course, five wagons and they were to form a train of replica Indian Railway passenger carriages, for which we were to provide a locomotive, so that the stock could be moved - not for our locomotive to feature in the filming, but simply for stock movement.

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J R Fairman - Premanagar under construction - 30th August 1982

A Sentinel was the motive power, normally Robin Waywell's green No. 9376, and the loco had to be at the Aylesbury end of the train. The train had to be marshalled, from the loco end, Nos. 99, 98, 97, 64 and 66. The wagons are not fitted with vacuum brakes, nor is the Sentinel, so some checks were made to determine stopping distances - and it was established that it needed 2½ wagon lengths in dry and 5 wagon lengths in wet rail conditions to stop the bogie bolster train. Next, for the carriage bodies, the wagons required some of the stanchions, fitted by BSC, to be removed - and on 16th July the details of the flame cutting positions were decided on. All this work was completed by 10th August - and our members were also busy on trying to get the hand brakes on the wagons in working order. In view of the need for proper care, safe working and control of any movement of the train, it was decided to have double manning of the Sentinel at all times while filming was taking place or stock being moved. To ensure no shortage of locomotive power, Del Etheridge's Peckett was moved over from the down yard, at Granada's expense, on 3rd September.

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J R Fairman - Behind Premanagar - 30th August 1982
(The photograph shows the timber framed plywood panels supported by scaffolding used for the scenery construction)

Before the filming started all the sets had been built. The film company's electricians were scheduled to arrive on 5th September and the tents for accommodation of catering, make-up, offices and so on arrived on 4th and 5th. On the 6th the mobile kitchen moved in and all this temporary camp was packed into our 'rally' area opposite the station. On the first day or two their kitchen was not properly equipped and we did quite good business in our refreshment coach - Dot Fulcher dispensing coffee to the artists and extras, but after that busy start support was lighter and relied on visitors.

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J R Fairman - Filming at Premanagar - 16th September 1982

Filming started at the bottom station, Mirat, with its fine overall roof. On the Sunday, 5th September, a trial run with the train was made, to see which locomotive the film company would prefer - the Sentinel or Peckett 2104. They decided they would like both of them, so we arranged water and coal for both.

They also requested some steam to be issuing from a pipe to discharge at the end of the first carriage to give 'atmosphere' and to act as a visual screen to what lay beyond the train - like a green Sentinel! A length of hose was run from the locomotive for this purpose and it was found that the Peckett was more successful in giving the required steam and with the right noises. So, for most of the 'shots' requiring the locomotive in action, it was the Peckett which was used. Water for the locos was a problem. We had hoped they would put a supply down the end themselves, because they wanted water for their filming. Unfortunately, they changed their minds and built a mock tower and put a small water tank on top of it which they filled whh buckets, so we didn't get our supply!

The supply of electricity at 11 kV was important for lighting and especially for the arc lamps. The lamps for shining down onto the platform at Premanagar were mounted on three enormous mobile platforms, like the units used for the maintenance of street lights, only much larger, and these red painted booms were a dominant feature of the scene while filming was in progress. They arrived at Quainton on the 7th and it was found that the outriggers on the vehicles, to give stability, were not adjustable - and one came neatly across the old loco inspection pit which had to be filled with sleepers in a hurry.

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J R Fairman - Peckett 2104 at Premanagar - 26th September 1982

Talking of sleepers reminds me that all the platforms were made of these timbers, so there was a lot of moving to do from the stacks built up in July. Local labour from the village was used initially to move the sleepers about. We had a fork-lift truck which was used jointly by us and by Granada and our members did a big job in building the long siding, the head shunt down which the Indian train was to operate. We had four loads, 20 tons or so per lorry, of ballast - and this was dumped on the side of the track and then had to be loaded into a makeshift box on the PW trolley and moved down the line and then spread around the sleepers. This work went on for several weeks. Bob Smith, our PW Chairman, was present supervising the employed labour and there were at least two other members to support him. We borrowed a farmer's tractor to try to help move the gravel, but the larger 1¼ in stone was too much for it and there wasn't enough room to manoeuvre around the heap. When the ballasting was done the film makers added their 'Eastern promise' by putting some orange coloured sand across the track near the VAMES access and 'planting' some palm trees - as shown on our cover picture. Altogether Bob Smith, Miles Taylor, John Booker and Brian Aylward laid 900ft of track on the headshunt and packed and spread 80-90 tons of ballast. Help from Del Etheridge and Allan Vigor was given and, for the first time, on 26th September, Quainton trains ran demonstration trains along the line.

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J R Fairman - Hornpipe hurries past Premanagar - 26th September 1982
(In the platform is wagon 64 already deprived of its carriage body)

Night scenes were shot during the week commencing 20th September, but during that week the Indian Summer weather broke. On the 22nd there was a freak tornado which severely damaged Mirat station, but the filming had been completed just in time. By the weekend demolition of the stations and the railway carriages was underway - and on Enthusiasts' Day, 26th September, a day of very heavy showers and gusty winds, the scene was one of desolation.

As this is being written, all is back to near-normal. No longer can blood-stained Indians in dirty white clothes be seen milling around dark red Indian Railway carriages. Nor again will the char-wallah's trolley grace a Ouainton platform. It was a fascinating experience. Memories will remain. Perhaps Dave Alexander's surprise at tripping over a badger as he walked on night security patrol between the two Indian stations is a good point to end this story. Or perhaps it is more apt to recall the rumbling of the rubbish trains passing Mirat and Premanagar on their way to Calvert each night. After all, film making is a transient thing - here today and gone tomorrow.

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J R Fairman - The Destruction of Premanagar

At the end of the filming agreement was reached with Granada whereby all the materials from the filmsets were purchased by the Society, except the scaffolding. This has given us a considerable amount of reusable timber and a large number of good sleepers. The reinstatement of the up yard was carried out under Roddy's direction at Granada's expense for labour and crane hire. Del's Peckett may stay in the up yard, but this is being considered by the appropriate committees. The 3rd class 'carriage' on wagon 97 has been kept intact for as long as it survives, so we hope visitors in 1983 will be able to see what it was like at Quainton in the summer of '82.

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.

The Granada Television Filming - Part II - Quainton News No. 46 - Autumn 1982

Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
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Page Updated: 09 December 2017