Children’s Film Foundation Production
A gentleman from England was nice enough to send me a copy of this previously-unknown-to-me movie (Thanks, Bill!). After a viewing, I knew it should have a home on my blog. Any film with Ronnie Barker (as Mr. Galore) and Graham Stark (as Grample) providing comedy relief is worth a look.
This 54 minute B&W picture from Great Britain is not as well known as the more famous “Titfield Thunderbolt (1953)” and “The Railway Children (1970)” are to American audiences. However, the train action is nearly non-stop and it is all steam.
The star of the movie is “Matilda” an 0-6-0ST tank engine dressed up with fake cylinders (at an odd angle) and other strange appliances on smokestack and dome. Filming took place on the since-abandoned Longmoor Military Railway (LMR) in Hampshire. Wiki has a fascinating write-up of their operation:
0-6-0ST “Matilda” steams quietly, ready for its’ next scene.
Child actor John Moulder-Brown plays “Charlie” operating Matilda under the watchful eye of the engineer; Level crossing guard Grample watches Matilda steam past.
Charlie’s friends react after hearing the train approach; Running alongside Matilda at the end of her last run into Barming station.
Per the uktrainsim.com website, Matilda was played by an 0-6-0 named “Errol Lonsdale”. Built by Hunslet in 1953, this Austerity 0-6-0ST “War Department 196” #68011 was for many years in service on the South Devon Railway.
The locomotive is now in Belgium (Stoomcentrum Maldegem) being restored and has its own Facebook page:
Letting the kids uncouple Matilda from her coach; Having a depot dance fundraiser to save the Barming Loop Railroad from closure. Don’t they look just like the Fab Four?
Posing as “Railway Enthusiasts”, Mr. Jones and Mr. Galore con the children into helping them rob the Royal Mail — complete with model trains for rehearsal (the kids think they’re just taking Matilda for a test run).
Mr. Galore uncouples the Royal Mail car while the train is stopped at a signal. The train then leaves without it.
In the cab of Matilda backing up – coupling to the mail car
One of the kids throws the switch and inadvertently allows a following express train to chase Matilda around the loop line.
Close up of “Gordon’s” 10 driving wheels at speed; LMR 600 pulls a string of passenger equipment.
The locomotive Gordon – LMR #600 a 2-10-0 built by North British/Glasgow in 1943, has been preserved at the Severn Valley Railway and is resplendent in a beautiful, blue boiler jacket, with red buffer beam and connecting rods.
A towerman throws the switch and sends Matilta on the line to London.
A few bumps and bruises after Matilda crashes into the station bumper post, but the kids are OK – the bobbies grab the mail robbers who wound up buried under the bunker’s pile of coal.
If you’d like to view this film, it is usually available on YouTube.
Here’s what IMDb has to say about Runaway Railway:
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