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PostPosted: 19 Dec 2014, 14:20 

Joined: 23 Dec 2010, 00:07
Posts: 324
Location: Poole, Dorset
Now here's an obscure sighting!

In 1960 a film entitled "Two Way Stretch" was released, which starred some of the greatest British actors and actresses of the time (Peter Sellers, Bernard Cribbins, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Maurice Denham, and Beryl Reid to name just five). The film was a comedy and the plot centred on the tale of a group of prison inmates (lead by Sellers) who break out of prison to rob a security van, then break back in so that they have the perfect alibi for the crime.

The rather complicated robbery involves the use of a railway breakdown crane (incredible but true!) and the crane is seen in operation in the film, albeit not for long, and can be seen in action in the screen capture below:-

DS1560 at Deepcut filimng Two Way Stretch c 1959.jpg
DS1560 at Deepcut filimng Two Way Stretch c 1959.jpg [ 31.54 KiB | Viewed 4185 times ]

The crane is clearly one of the wartime 45-ton Ransomes & Rapier batch, and it is almost certain that it is 1561S, at that time based at Guildford.

The filming location for the scene was the bridge carrying the LSWR main line over the A324 Dawney Hill at Deepcut, very close to Brookwood Necropolis, and although trees now obscure most of the features the bridge is immediately recognisable today (see Google Maps). The scene was shot looking north from the south side of the line, where there are the unused abutments for an additional track over the road. The crane is standing on what I imagine was a spur laid in for the purpose to allow its jib to overhand the abutment.

The equivalent modern view can be seen here on Geograph.

For a 1960 release, I imagine the film would have been made in 1959 or 1960, at which time the two contenders DS1560 and DS1561 (an earlier scene in which the cylinders can be seen makes it clear that it isn't DS1580) were based at Nine Elms and Guildford respectively. There are no distinguishing features to differentiate between these two cranes, however it is noted elsewhere that at about this time the Guildford crane had an unusual light grey shade of paint on its jib, which is undoubtedly what can be seen in the film.

it is not clear whether the if the jib was specifically painted light grey to make it stand out in the film (the action takes place at night, and it is possible that the film-makers wanted to make it clear to the viewers that a crane was lifting the security van and it wasn't simply levitating), or if the crane just happened to have a lighter jib colour for some other reason at the time the film was made (perhaps it was half-way through being repainted from its original grey livery to black).

For those who want to see it, the film is available from Amazon for £7.90, and if you want an hour-and-a-half's escape to the black and white era when films were less gritty and contained no "strong language" you could do far worse.

(Editted to add Geograph link).

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