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Great train robbery on the East Lancs Railway!
11:20am Monday 17th September 2012 in News
THE East Lancashire Railway proved the perfect backdrop to recreate scenes from 1963’s infamous Great Train Robbery for the ITV drama, Mrs Biggs. Eagle-eyed viewers who watched the latest episode of the series last night will have spotted some familiar locations which featured in the programme. “Mrs Biggs” tells the story of one of the robbery gang, Ronnie Biggs, and his wife, Charmian. Andy Morris, general manager of the railway, said: “The ELR was able to play host to the production as it offered some true-to-life opportunities which were important historical aspects associated with the story. “The railway is the home of the Class 40 Preservation Society whose diesel locomotive features quite significantly in the programme. The events surrounding the hijack of the train, the farcical attempts by the gang to drive the train and the attack on the driver are an important element of the story, so the type of loco was critical to the portrayal of what actually happened.” He added: “Also of importance was the ability to recreate critical locations associated with the whole story and, again, the ELR proved to be the ideal choice for the film makers, especially given the period in which the drama is set. “Key scenes in the three-part drama were filmed on the ELR during March, which saw Bolton Street station masquerade as Reigate station and sidings in Baron Street recreated the West Coast main line, the scene of the train hijacking.” The actual locomotive hauling the train that was robbed in 1963 was a class 40 diesel locomotive built in 1961. In 1984, the Class 40 Preservation Society rescued and restored two such locos. One of them, D335, had the exact same features as the Great Train Robbery loco. ITV hired the D335 loco for filming sequences and the society renumbered it to D326, the number of the actual engine involved, to ensure the recreation was as accurate as possible. Mr Morris added: “The ELR is increasingly becoming the location of choice for film makers requiring a railway-based backdrop for their productions. “The Mrs Biggs drama followed close on the heels of a BBC production for the Easter ‘Preston Passion’ programmes and also some independent filming commissions, including music videos.”