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Sunday September 23rd 2018

The Titfield Thunderbolt | 1952

The Titfield Thunderbolt filming location: Monkton Combe, Bath, Somerset
The Titfield Thunderbolt filming location: the village: Monkton Combe, Bath, Somerset

With locations on the now-defunct railway line at Limpley Stoke, just southeast of Bath in Somerset, this cosiest of the Ealing comedies pits ordinary people against heartless commercialism as the scheming owner of a coach service attempts to close down a much-loved steam train service.

In fact, the line had already been closed for some time. The fictitious ‘Titfield-Mallingford’ branch line was a seven-mile stretch of track between Limpley Stoke and Camerton.

The station was a defunct stop at Monkton Combe, just a couple of miles southeast of Bath. The station had closed to passengers way back in 1925, though the line was used for freight until the closure of Camerton Colliery in 1950.

The Titfield Thunderbolt filming location: Monkton Combe, Bath, Somerset
The Titfield Thunderbolt filming location: the site of the old station: Monkton Combe, Bath, Somerset

The village, with its distinctive mill chimney, is still recognisable. The road down which the commuters march to catch the Thunderbolt is Mill Lane, which has changed only slightly over the years.

The turning into the station entrance is now a sadly overgrown mess, and the site of ‘Titfield Station’ is now buried under tennis courts, though you can still clearly make out the site, and the route of the old line along the valley of the River Misbourne.

The Titfield Thunderbolt filming location: Monkton Combe, Bath, Somerset
The Titfield Thunderbolt filming location: pots and pans from the farm: Monkton Combe, Bath, Somerset

Across the valley, you can see Mott Farm, the farmhouse pillaged for pots and pans after the water tank is sabotaged.

More of the village, including the house of Valentine (Stanley Holloway) was filmed in Freshford, a little further southeast.

‘Mallingford’ is Bristol’s Temple Meads Station, where there was a mere one day’s filming with locomotive The Lion.

The derailed train, which takes to the road, isn’t a train at all, but a shell built onto a lorry chassis. Its night-time journey filmed in the village of Woodstock, northwest of the city of Oxford in Oxfordshire. The village is only a couple of miles from Blenheim Palace, birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill and a location familiar from many films including appearing in Spectre, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, the 1998 film of The Avengers, The Young Victoria and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham...

The railway museum, from which the locals steal a steam engine and manhandle it down a flight of steps, was the old Imperial Institute in London, demolished in 1957, which stood on the west side of Exhibition Road, in South Kensington, SW7. Imperial College now occupies the site.