Trivia: Fictional Railways in Media

Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

32475

Member
Joined
2 Nov 2019
Messages
387
Location
Sandwich
For those fortunate enough to remember Catweazle on TV, the main character lived for a time at the fictional disused station of Duck Halt. It film location wasn’t a real station but a building made up to look like one.
I’ve got all the episodes on dvd so come the winter I’ll have to watch them again.
It was this programme which really captured my imagination as a youngster and caused me to explore recently closed lines and stations in Sussex as soon as I could venture out on my bicycle with a couple of school pals.
 

Mcr Warrior

Established Member
Joined
8 Jan 2009
Messages
7,063
I'm surprised no one has mentioned the fictional station of Walmington-on-Sea in Dads Army.
Filmed at Weybourne station on the North Norfolk Railway.

Same heritage station has also doubled as the fictional Crimpton-on-Sea railway station in BBC's "Hi-de-Hi".
 

Magdalia

Member
Joined
1 Jan 2022
Messages
918
Location
The Fens
Although most of the locations on Reginald Perrin's commute were real, he started and finished his day at the fictional Climthorpe.
 

John Luxton

Member
Joined
23 Nov 2014
Messages
1,123
The 1977 Movie "The Stick Up" starring David Sole was filmed on and around Dartmoor and featured a train robbery on the South Devon (then Dart Valley) Railway. Staverton station featured - but I am sure was renamed.

Staverton Station also featured in the TV series "A Horseman Riding By" and "To Serve Them All My Days" both dramas based on Novels by RF Delderfield and set in south west England. Staverton going under fictitious names. I think in To Serve them All My Days it was "Bamfylde Halt" an supposedly in North Devon. Most of the other locations including the school used (Milton Abbey) were actually in Dorset at Milton Abbas.
 

Calthrop

Established Member
Joined
6 Dec 2015
Messages
2,768
Staverton Station also featured in the TV series "A Horseman Riding By" and "To Serve Them All My Days" both dramas based on Novels by RF Delderfield and set in south west England. Staverton going under fictitious names. I think in To Serve them All My Days it was "Bamfylde Halt" an supposedly in North Devon. Most of the other locations including the school used (Milton Abbey) were actually in Dorset at Milton Abbas.

Going a bit off-topic here -- from mention of Delderfield; who is to my probably snobbish-and-superior mind, a sometimes embarrassingly-awful hack author; but he has for me, his enjoyable moments. There comes to mind his "Swann Saga" -- series of novels set in the early-ish days of Britain's railways: hero, the daring and wealthy Mr. Swann, who launches a commercial undertaking whose purpose is to offer horse-drawn freight transport by road, in ways which manage to do some competing with, and undercutting, the new mode of transport which is carrying almost everything before it (this thing is about freight only -- passenger transport by stage-coach, has to be reckoned a dead duck). Our hero has a fair amount of success in this endeavour: challenging what is described by the books' road-horse-haulage loyalists as "the gridiron", or "they bliddy tea-kettles". (The books also tell of a certain amount of co-operation to mutual benefit, between rail transport and Swann horse-drawn ditto.) For my money, Delderfield often writes / over-writes, cringe-makingly dreadfully; but he has his better times too. And, many of us tend to cheer for the underdog -- one can hardly fail to to like Swann, for his waging such a quixotic venture in such a mostly-hopeless cause.
 

Gloster

Established Member
Joined
4 Sep 2020
Messages
4,494
Location
Up the creek
Victor Whitechurch wrote a number of stories about an eccentric (for the early twentieth century) railway enthusiast and detective called Thorpe Hazell. Some of the stories are set in real locations (one of the best known uses the Didcot, Newbury & Southampton), but others are set on completely fictional companies, usually with vague but flamboyant names.
 

Trackman

Established Member
Joined
28 Feb 2013
Messages
2,219
Location
Lewisham
Hobb's End underground station
There's loads of fictional underground stations, I think there's a web page about it.

My pick of the bunch is Lewisham underground station which was in a comedy programme in the 1970s and ironically on the Bakerloo line.
Stations:
New Cross (BR interchange)
Lewisham
Ladywell
Edge Of The World
Catford (Terminus)

Shame, I've watched a clip but couldn't make out the other names.

bakerlooex.jpg
 

PTR 444

Established Member
Joined
22 Aug 2019
Messages
1,402
Location
Southampton
There's loads of fictional underground stations, I think there's a web page about it.

My pick of the bunch is Lewisham underground station which was in a comedy programme in the 1970s and ironically on the Bakerloo line.
Stations:
New Cross (BR interchange)
Lewisham
Ladywell
Edge Of The World
Catford (Terminus)

Shame, I've watched a clip but couldn't make out the other names.

View attachment 116785
Coincidentally almost exactly the same as the current Bakerloo Line extension proposal, although judging by the line colour it looks like they simply extended the East London Line (then Metropolitan) from New Cross.
 

Calthrop

Established Member
Joined
6 Dec 2015
Messages
2,768
A thing which I have read about, but never actually seen at first hand: a situation which it seems might be remedied, but at a high financial cost (see further on). A humorous strip-cartoon work by Carl Robert Fallberg (1915 -- 1996): artist and cartoonist for the Disney organisation, and railway enthusiast. The long-running strip concerned the -- dreamt-up by Fallberg -- Fiddletown & Copperopolis Railroad: a narrow-gauge (one assumes 3ft.) concern in a remote "way out west" location -- described by those who know this work, as a kind of distillation of all that was most zany and delightful about the narrow gauge in the West of the USA. Fallberg produced this saga, at length, during the 1940s; it appeared serially in the US's Railroad magazine. A thing with which I would love to become acquainted; book-form publication has occurred, one gathers -- but it would seem certain that to afford the price of such a book, one would need to win the Lottery, or all but.

And a fictional-railways thing for me, of a different kind. I quote from C.S. Small's 1959 book Far Wheels, in its chapter about the metre-gauge route between Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; and Djibouti. "[said railway] and the country of Ethiopia have been savagely caricatured by Evelyn Waugh in his two books Scoop and Black Mischief, but these vitriolic satires are certainly not representative of the country and the railroad today."

Waugh would seem to be one of those artistic creators whose work people tend to love, or hate, immoderately (C.S. Small, above, does not seem to harbour any affection for his stuff). My standpoint concerning him, is different again -- his two novels named above, are to the best of my knowledge the only things by him which I have ever read (that was many decades ago). I remember very little indeed, about either -- including no recollection at all, of the railway-related elements in them ! -- seem to recollect that I was basically "meh" about the novels: neither bowled-over, nor repulsed and nauseated. One gathers that part of the fun of Waugh for enthusiasts for his work: is that he was a highly misanthropic individual; which he "goes to town on" in his writings -- and it would appear that he was also in his personal life and dealings, one of the nastier persons who have ever lived. His general outlook on life was extremely right-wing and "I hate the stinking rabble..." I think it can be said with certainty, that he did not hold black people in high regard; but his scorn was poured out on many other categories of mankind also. (Finding out some of these things about Waugh -- plus, not having been hugely impressed by the two novels which I did read -- has caused me never to look at anything else written by him, or to wish to.) In some respects he was "a man of his time" -- if he were writing this stuff and trying to get it published nowadays, one reckons that he would be universally shunned and rejected; however, a fair few people reacted to his writings with some dismay, even in his heyday most of a century ago. Impression got, that quite a number of the numerous devotees of Waugh's work: are devotees thus, for its form rather than its content.

Scoop and Black Mischief were both written round about the time of Italy's invasion and (brief) conquest of Ethiopia in the later 1930s. Different narratives about different fictional black-ruled African countries ("Azania", and "Ishmaelia"); which are both, however, identifiable in character, and roughly geography-wise, with Ethiopia. As said, I have forgotten almost all of the details of both -- but the central theme of them is generally acknowledged to be: fluctuation between low comedy, and horror; on the general thesis that black folk are not competent to govern countries. (Waugh actually spent time in Ethiopia as a newspaper correspondent on Italy's war of conquest -- his personal view seems to have been that the Italians were doing Ethiopia a kindness by taking it over and civilising it. It is reckoned that in his time spent there, he experienced the Addis -- Djibouti railway at first-hand.)

I find it frustrating that I recall nothing about the "railway" episodes in the two books: I suspect thus, that it must have been something else which first brought them to my notice. One takes it that this aspect of the novels, would have been Waugh having fun telling about rail operation of a degree of probably often lethal incompetence, which would make Percy French's West Clare Railway look in comparison, like a model of the greatest efficiency and dispatch.

Has anyone else by any chance, come across these novels by Waugh; and perhaps, recalls more about them than I do?
 

Gloster

Established Member
Joined
4 Sep 2020
Messages
4,494
Location
Up the creek
I read Scoop once or twice a long time ago, but remember little more of it than a few digs at journalists. I may still have a copy somewhere and could reread it again. I have been organising my books recently following a house move and have been getting an idea of how many books in the ‘I definitely want to read that’, ‘I would like to read that’ and the ‘I might read that’, categories there are. I doubt that I will teach the third category, so Scoop will probably remain unreread.
 

Roger1973

Member
Joined
5 Jul 2020
Messages
270
Location
Berkshire
There were, if I remember correctly, several fictional Underground stations in the works of Michael Gilbert. My recollection is of those in the Petrella books, but there may have been others.

Yes, the early Petrella stories were set in 'Highside' (very thinly disguised Highgate) and a few other north London locations were also thinly disguised.

His 'Fear to Tread' involves activity at the fictional Crossways goods depot in inner south-east London, and mentions Walworth Road underground station once or twice (which might have happened if the Bakerloo Line extension had happened.) Later books / stories tended generally to use real location and station names (Underground or surface) but the geography was a bit flexible...

Think I've read one of his short stories that involved a disused bit of Underground line that came out at a still-open station. It was being used for some criminal purpose but I can't remember the detail.

Or a badger eating a fusebox at Raynes Park... :lol:

or an escaped puma at Chessington North. The whole collection here.

There's loads of fictional underground stations, I think there's a web page about it.

Holborn Station in the Kingsway (tram) Subway became 'Union Street' underground station for a film. More here.
 

Merthyr Imp

Member
Joined
24 May 2016
Messages
450
Location
Merthyr Tydfil
Victor Whitechurch wrote a number of stories about an eccentric (for the early twentieth century) railway enthusiast and detective called Thorpe Hazell. Some of the stories are set in real locations (one of the best known uses the Didcot, Newbury & Southampton), but others are set on completely fictional companies, usually with vague but flamboyant names.

I seem to remember the London and Mid-Northern Railway was one.
 

EbbwJunction1

Established Member
Joined
25 Mar 2010
Messages
1,478
I like this Reggie Perrin reason .... "Eleven minutes late, somebody had stolen the lines at Surbiton."
 

Sorcerer

Member
Joined
20 May 2022
Messages
145
Location
Liverpool
I'm impressed by a lot of the contributions so far! I mentioned earlier about Vauxhall Cross being a fictional tube station in Die Another Day, but there's a decent video on YouTube by Jago Hazzard covering the subject in a bit more detail. It's a good video for those who love railways or James Bond, or in my case loves both railways and James Bond. If the link doesn't work for you though, you can always search "Vauxhall Cross" on YouTube and find the video as the first result. The title is Fictional Tube Stations: Vauxhall Cross (Die Another Day).
 

Calthrop

Established Member
Joined
6 Dec 2015
Messages
2,768
I read Scoop once or twice a long time ago, but remember little more of it than a few digs at journalists. I may still have a copy somewhere and could reread it again. I have been organising my books recently following a house move and have been getting an idea of how many books in the ‘I definitely want to read that’, ‘I would like to read that’ and the ‘I might read that’, categories there are. I doubt that I will teach the third category, so Scoop will probably remain unreread.

Your words here about Scoop, resurrect for me a few more memories about the novel. If I now recall rightly; its plot centres on the misfortunes of a daily newspaper's nerdy country-life and natural-history correspondent (I suspect that the name William Boot comes to mind), who normally spends his time churning out such stuff as "the douce vole minces sweetly through the plashy fen". Through some administrative blunder, this chap gets sent out to Africa to report on the war in Ishmaelia. I further recall now how toward the end of the book, one character has to travel to a crucial meeting with another, in some remote (English) West-country fastness reached ultimately by a journey on -- quoting from vague memory -- "a one-coach, tramlike train of a kind which [our hero] had never hitherto experienced outside of Balkan valleys". Am beginning to feel that re-reading Scoop might be more fun for me, than I'd hitherto imagined ! Frustrating, though, that I recall nothing whatsoever from the book, about doings on IshmaeliaRail -- though we're told for certain, that it includes such.
 

Gloster

Established Member
Joined
4 Sep 2020
Messages
4,494
Location
Up the creek
I think it was that John Boot was a journalist who was the darling of the glitterati and so when they need to send a hack to Africa, proprietor Lord Copper says, “Send Boot!” However, the only Boot the editor (or whatever) can think of is the compiler of the nature notes: so off he goes. (I hope this isn’t a spoiler as it I think it all appears early on.)
 

Devonian

Member
Joined
10 Sep 2019
Messages
134
Location
Totnes
"Death of a Train" by Freeman Wills Crofts features a consignment of top secret parts sent from London to Plymouth on the 'Great Southern': with an imaginative amalgam name like that it is perhaps inevitable that the fictional headquarters are at Padderloo, District Control Office at Readingstoke, locomotive shed at Nine Oaks, and train routed via Westcombe and Swinleigh.
 

Gloster

Established Member
Joined
4 Sep 2020
Messages
4,494
Location
Up the creek
As an admirer of Crofts’ works I am kicking myself for not mentioning him. Although most of his works are set in real locations, sometimes with minor tweaks, a few weren’t. Death on the Way is set on a major Southern Railway engineering project in the Dorset or Devon area, while The Starvel Tragedy and French Strikes Oil both have railway episodes, the latter seemingly on the Bristol-Taunton line.

Michael Gilbert’s first novel, Close Quarters, also involves some minor railway episodes. The location seems to be vaguely ‘somewhere west of the Home Counties’.
 

John Webb

Established Member
Joined
5 Jun 2010
Messages
2,519
Location
St Albans
There were several 'fictional' railways in episodes of "The Avengers". The closed Stanbridgeford station between Dunstable and Leighton Buzzard featured in the episode "Death at Noon" filmed in 1968; it was renamed 'Langs Halt'. Another episode featured the Stapleford Park minature Railway. A couple of others featured studio sets including one with a 'disused station' being looked after by John Laurie.
 

Busaholic

Veteran Member
Joined
7 Jun 2014
Messages
12,023
There's loads of fictional underground stations, I think there's a web page about it.

My pick of the bunch is Lewisham underground station which was in a comedy programme in the 1970s and ironically on the Bakerloo line.
Stations:
New Cross (BR interchange)
Lewisham
Ladywell
Edge Of The World
Catford (Terminus)

Shame, I've watched a clip but couldn't make out the other names.

View attachment 116785
Was it Spike Milligan? He had an obsession with Catford, having once lived there. Catford should be Catford Bridge, of course. Edge of the World? That must have been Prendergast's Girls School! May as well have been the edge of the world to us male scholars fast by Catford/Catford Bridge stations for whom fraternisation never happened, our start/finish/break times deliberately timed so we never met!
 

Trackman

Established Member
Joined
28 Feb 2013
Messages
2,219
Location
Lewisham
Was it Spike Milligan? He had an obsession with Catford, having once lived there. Catford should be Catford Bridge, of course. Edge of the World? That must have been Prendergast's Girls School! May as well have been the edge of the world to us male scholars fast by Catford/Catford Bridge stations for whom fraternisation never happened, our start/finish/break times deliberately timed so we never met!
I cant see anything in the credits. Here is the sketch anyway...
 

Roger1973

Member
Joined
5 Jul 2020
Messages
270
Location
Berkshire
Michael Gilbert’s first novel, Close Quarters, also involves some minor railway episodes. The location seems to be vaguely ‘somewhere west of the Home Counties’.

If I remember right, it's on a main line in to Waterloo, west of Basingstoke, not on the direct line to Bournemouth, but it isn't Salisbury. (Although I think MG had some connection with Salisbury Cathedral, and 'Melchester' seems to have a certain amount in common with Salisbury.)
 

Calthrop

Established Member
Joined
6 Dec 2015
Messages
2,768
I think it was that John Boot was a journalist who was the darling of the glitterati and so when they need to send a hack to Africa, proprietor Lord Copper says, “Send Boot!” However, the only Boot the editor (or whatever) can think of is the compiler of the nature notes: so off he goes. (I hope this isn’t a spoiler as it I think it all appears early on.)

If I recall correctly, Lord Copper is both a ruthless, borderline-psychotic tyrant; and a moron -- his employees simultaneously despise him, and go in terror of him. The boldest comment that his second-in-command dares to make in response to his pronouncements, is "Up to a point, Lord Copper" -- code for "you imbecile, you are talking utter rubbish". (I keep thinking more and more, that Scoop merits revisiting !)
 

Roger1973

Member
Joined
5 Jul 2020
Messages
270
Location
Berkshire
I've been thinking about Sherlock Holmes - I'm not sure he used any completely fictional lines, but there are a few fictional stations -

The incident of The Engineer's Thumb happened at 'Eyford', Berkshire which must have been on the South Eastern line south-east of Reading (the client said he had to change stations as well as trains at Reading), Shoscombe Old Place was also in Berkshire, close to the 'halt on demand' station of Shoscombe.

The Priory School was at 'Mackleton' described as in 'the peak country', 'Hallamshire' and within reach of Chesterfield, but they travel from Euston to get there - the Midland Main Line would seem more plausible.

The other journeys I can think of used real stations including Woking, Chislehurst, Winchester, Blackheath, Tavistock, North Walsham

Two Conan Doyle short stories The Lost Special and The Man with the Watches (Holmes is possibly involved remotely but not actively with both) involve railways - the former involving a special train disappearing between Liverpool and Manchester, and may have involved a fictional line; the latter involves the Buckinghamshire section of the LNWR main line.
 

Top