The Hertford destination board is practically as mythical as the actual destination, Goathland, known to the millions who watched ‘Heartbeat’ on the telly, as ‘Aidensfield’. The North Yorkshire Moors Railway, as you might expect, has come to benefit, enormously, from this tele-visual exposure. There’s nothing new, however, about railways and movies / television, they’ve got history, all the way back to the beginning of moving pictures. Today we’ve got state of the art CGI movies staring, that ‘loveable’ little Jinty, Thomas the Tank Engine, back then, 1895, the brothers Lumiere took shaky footage of Les Chemin de fer.
Down the years railways have played all manner of parts from comedic stooge in a silent movie, through leading lady in some whimsical 1950s Ealing production, to the gritty leading man in a black and white movie about the French resistance, art treasure, and the Nazis. Bits of railway landscape, and railway architecture, have, over the decades, allowed many a star and starlet to; pose dramatically, look rugged, windswept, romantic, lonely, in danger, and in every conceivable combination thereof. And from Box tunnel to Rannoch Moor, Carnforth Station to platform 9 & 3/4, the railways provided the backdrop and the smut in your eye. Not to mention being a cliche for the innuendo of the ‘smut’ which happens, in the compartment, in scene three.
Sherlock Holmes consulted Bradshaw’s Guide like a psychic consults tea leaves and traveling was murderous on the Orient Express, as well as from Paddington. Scary Denholme Elliot in the tale of the ghostly bobby, black and white footage of men, in great coats, shoveling snow at Bleath Gill – Oh! Mr. Porter it’s very cold in Crewe. From shoveling snow to, ‘shoveling white steam over her shoulder … bringing the cheque and the postal order’ – do they still have postal orders?
Ex-GNR class N2 0-6-2T No.1744 is photographed at Beck Hole, looking somewhat pensive I thought, in the dappled light, with her single teak coach and flowing exhaust.
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