Cat no. 481


Running time12:55 Colour Sound 1968 Norwich, Norfolk

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The rail crash at Thorpe St. Andrews, 10th September, 1874.


Travel / Travelogue

The film begins by placing the Norwich to Yarmouth line in context, using shots of Norwich and Yarmouth. The scenes of Norwich include the City Hall, the market and the cattle market. Those of Yarmouth show the port and the railway alongside Yarmouth South Quay. The story of the railway leading up to the 1874 crash is told using a mixture of authentic stills, those drawn for the film and live shots of the modern railway line. A gang works on the railway line at Brundall. There are scenes of the line form inside the driver's cab. A map shows the route of the Norwich to Yarmouth Railway, which was the first to use an electric telegraph system. There is a still of the original Thorpe Station and shots of signalling equipment from the Science Museum in London.The confusion between the Station Master, Alfred Cooper, and the telegraph operator, John Robson regarding a late train and whether or not to hold the mail train is explained. The story of the crash is built up by the commentary with trains illustrating the effect. The Flying Scotsman in Norwich takes the part of one train and a train on the Bluebell Line in Sussex, another. Shots from around Thorpe Station and from inside the signal box at Brundall are intercut with these to explain how they came to be running towards each other. Shots of an interior of a modern train re-inforces the fact that one of the trains was a passenger train. The story of the Bates family illustrates the tragic consequences. The crash and its aftermath are shown as sketches from the Illustrated London News. The drivers and firemen of both trains and eighteen passengers were killed. Many wounded died later. Stills from the Norwich Mercury tell of how Alfred Cooper and John Robson were tried and convicted of manslaughter on a specimen charge. Shots of the Church of St. John the Baptist and All Saints, Lakenham and Thorpe St. Andrews Church, where many of the dead are buried, complete the film.

Featured People:

Alfred Cooper, Night Inspector, Norwich Thorpe Station, 1874; John Robson, telegraph operator, Norwich Thorpe Station, 1874; The Bates family, passengers

Featured Organisations:

The Great Eastern Railway

Featured Events:

The rail crash at Thorpe St. Andrews, 10th September, 1874

Featured Buildings:

Thorpe Station, Norwich; The Church of St. John the Baptist and All Saints, Lakenham and ; St. Church, Thorpe St. Andrews

David Cleveland

Jon Curle

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