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

Jewel in the Crown

Premanagar and Mirat


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Photo:
J R Fairman - Premanagar

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Photo:
J R Fairman - Mirat


Paul Scott's novels are, of course, fiction and the place names are fictional (I think!), although the pictures painted in words make the places very real indeed. The creation at Quainton of two Indian stations, called Mirat Cantonment and Premanagar, was the major task of the filmset makers and a wonderfully realistic work of art was carried out in the up yard.

Premanagar was the largest of the two stations and was located between the King and 7200. It had a long low single tarmac covered sleeper platform with station buildings almost the full length of the platform. These buildings were behind a series of fourteen arches, ten of which were sheltered from the blazing Bucks sun by a realistic Indian style awning.


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Photo:
J R Fairman - Translation required


The first room, approaching from the north end, was a Ladies Waiting Room, about 16ft square, with two upholstered and two plain couches. The room was dreary and shabby and the effect of neglect was heightened by some black and white framed pictures on the walls, water spotted and typical of the period - prints like 'The Dawn of Day' and 'The Gleaners', also two prints by J Paulman, 'The Bend of the River' and 'A Day in the Hayfields', to remind memsahib of home!

Further up the platform was the RTO's office. It was such a perfect collection of furniture - four lockers in stained wood, two desks side by side, a letter rack, two tables, chairs, maps on the walls of Bihar, Bhopal and West Bengal and an old clock, all dusty and weary looking. On the desk were papers- a 'Warrant for Conveyance' from the Garrison Engineer, Engineer Park, Jubbulpore, and there was a clipboard with Regimental Duties from Major A C R Watt, Royal Signals, Commanding British Administration Section, HO, STC{I), Jubbalore, 12th November 1945.


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Photo:
J R Fairman - In the SM's office are the King's tender wheels!

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Photo:
J R Fairman - Underneath the Arches, Premanagar


Duties such as messing, rations, active service leave, petrol coupons, release leave. It must bring back memories to some of you!

Then there was the Movement Control Office with its notice 'Paid Telegrams are Accepted Here'. And the platform itself was a joy to explore. There was the fruit sellers barrow, the char wallah's wagon, the heavy steel ring for 'gonging' before train departure, the assortment of bales, boxes, crates and bundles, rather an incongruous 'Gem' pedestal weighing machine, hanging flower baskets (Did they have these in 1945? They don't in 1982!), the station seats, including our ex Leigh (Lanes.), and a wonderful selection of vegetables on sale (all imitation), carrots, sweet corn, onions, cauliflowers, tomatoes and garlic. It was perfect and will be worth waiting to see on the television next year.

Mirat Cantt station was quite different. It had a superb overall roof, something like an Indian version of Frome! The platform, similarly constructed to Premanagar did not extend beyond the north end of the overall roof, but at the Aylesbury end there were about two coach lengths of platform, half of it with an awning.


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Photo:
J R Fairman - 'Dead Bodies', Premanagar

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Photo:
J R Fairman - Mirat Cantt Train Indicator Board


Mirat did have a large waiting area under cover and some equally good 'props' while filming was being carried out. One feature at Mirat was the train indicator board, showing a remarkable sequence of departures, rivalling many London termini and exceeding Marylebone's best performance in its heyday! Another notice stated 'Date of Payment to Mirat Cantt Traffic Staff, 1st and 10th of every month - wage period 1st to end of month. By order Paymaster and DPOAII'.

The realistic stone and equally solid looking cement-rendered walls and arches made both stations so permanent in appearance and so weather worn that their temporary character and lightweight structural forms could hardly be credited. But the freakish tornado which destroyed so much during the last week in September blew away the illusion. The cranes and demolition men did the rest. It was all fiction - but so nearly true fact.


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Photo:
J R Fairman - The End


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:
Premanagar and Mirat - 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