Keighley Filming – a triumph of teamwork

As many readers are aware the Railway played host to a major film company last week with Keighley station transformed to represent a major mainline station elsewhere in the country and the rolling stock adapted to represent the period of the film.

The Railway has rightly gained an enviable reputation for working closely with film and television programme makers to deliver their location and period requirements. Recent successes have included the BBC2 drama ‘Peaky Blinders’ and the first programme, ‘A Robber’s Tale’, in the BBC1 drama to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Great Train Robbery. To fulfil such filming contracts requires meticulous negotiations with the film makers and hours of dedicated planning by the Railway and its associated organisations.

SAM_1369On this occasion, not only was the Railway SAM_1375required to provide its own services but needed to enlist the co-operation and assistance from several Railway based organisations – Bahamas Locomotive Society (BLS), Vintage Carriages Trust (VCT) & the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Trust (L&Y).

Several railway sequences were required for a period spanning 1914 to 1919, involving scenes at various locations across England and the related on-train journeys. The rolling stock chosen to provide the required period scenes on set were 5 vehicles from VCT, SAM_1410namely the two GNR brakes, two Metropolitan carriages, and the Chatham corridor brake; from the L&Y stable came the Hughes Brake, 6 wheeler, and the Club Coach. The locomotives were not in direct shot but the Coal Tank, supplied by the BLS, and the Railway’s own 4F provided suitable motive power. The Club Car was set dressed as a dining car for further internal sequences and the Chatham brake used only for internal sequences. (Those who know the Railway’s rolling stock will know that the coach’s current external finish is 1950s carmine and cream, hardly GN-six-wheeler-140324appropriate for the period of the film, but internally is eminently suitable).

Although only a three day shoot was proposed, taking place on 25, 26 & 27 March, construction and set-dressing work commenced on Monday 17 March to transform Keighley. This involved disguising the buffet & shop behind a ‘new’ office facade; creating a new station buffet on the over-bridge between Platform 4 and 3 and repainting sections of the Station. This was in addition to the normal work involved in film sets to remove or GNR-Brake-140328disguise signage and other modern fittings that we have now become used to.

The rolling stock used, as visitors to the Railway will know, is normally maintained in pristine condition, seeing the light of day, or more accurately, receiving the rigours of regular locomotive haulage, on occasional or rare appearances, and therefore would look somewhat out of place on a ‘real’ railway. To overcome this, interestingly, the carriages were artificially ‘weathered’ to remove their museum finish with a recipe of black water based paint, mixed with wallpaper paste and vegetable oil! (Don’t try this at home!) Come the end of filming, this all had to be cleaned off at Oxenhope as part of the disposal of the stock, apart from the one GNR brake that was weathered, as this venerable coach cannot venture beyond Ingrow. The opportunity was also taken to turn several of the VCT carriages on the turntable to improve their display at Ingrow.

Roger France is the Railway’s Filming Liaison Officer who orchestrates such productions on behalf of the Railway and pulls the team together that has built up the excellent reputation the Railway enjoys. Thanks are due to all who have worked tirelessly to provide the items of rolling stock and to those operating staff who made themselves available to cover the necessary duties. Special mention has to be made of the staff at Keighley, ably led by Andy Brown, Keighley Stationmaster, who had to endure almost two weeks of total disruption supervising the transformation activities to the station and its subsequent re-instatement, involving long daily hours to make sure that everything was in place ready for the shoot.

In conclusion Roger France reports that the filming was successful and the filming company were delighted with the Railway’s facilities, and especially highlighted that the Railway’s experience of dealing with the film industry was beneficial to them. We can now look forward to seeing the results next year.

The contract with the film company preclude showing any images of the filming or the film set but these images give a taste of the stock movements that took place. More will be revealed when the film is released in 2015.

Featured Image: A rare shot of an 8 coach rake of historic carriages – Roger France
VCT Carriages at Ingrow – VCT
VCT Carriages at Ingrow – VCT
Metropolitan Brake on Keighley Turntable – VCT
GNR 6 Wheel Brake on Keighley Turntable – Roger France
Removing the ‘Weathering’ – VCT

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