By Richard Watson
Won’t someone save the railway?
That’s what the villagers of Titfield ask when they hear that their local branch line is being closed down. How will they get into town? Isn’t the railway an historically important part of village life? Is the bus replacement reliable, or even safe?
Titfield is in luck. Led by the local lady of the manor, the vicar, and their wealthy backer, the community comes together and takes matters into their own hands.
They buy the rail line, fit a drinks carriage and set about running it themselves – hoping to prove their competence in the face of bureaucratic opposition and the disruptions of the rival bus company.
With stolen trains, steamroller duels and sabotage, the villagers have got their work cut out. But will they be allowed to run their train line full-time?
Find out in Huddersfield Thespians’ latest play ‘The Titfield Thunderbolt’, adapted from the classic 1950s Ealing Studios comedy. The play steams into Longwood Mechanics Hall from March 15.
Inspired by the real-life efforts of the volunteers of Talyllyn Heritage Railway from 1950, the film ‘The Titfield Thunderbolt’ was released by Ealing Studios in 1953.
The Welsh railway had been closed after its owner’s death but was re-opened by local rail enthusiasts who thought it was too nice to scrap and reckoned they could do a good enough job of running it themselves. TEB Clarke visited the Talyllyn line, and used some of those experiences for his script.
The film was the first of the Ealing comedies to be shot in Technicolor and starred Stanley Holloway, George Relph and John Gregson. This was just one of many classic comedies to come out of the Ealing studios during their golden age – others include ‘Whisky Galore!’, ‘Kind Hearts and Coronets’, and ‘The Lavender Hill Mob’. Later Ealing hits include ‘Shaun of the Dead’ and the newer St Trinian’s films.
The Thespians are stoked to be bringing this classic comedy to life on the stage, and have got station staff standing by to welcome audiences back to the Mechanics Hall in Longwood.
The Mechanics Hall is another example of a local community coming together, and has a long history of providing activities, including performances.
The Thespians are looking forward to continuing this tradition, alongside running a bar, and selling copies of their centenary book: ‘Different Stages: Celebrating 100 Years of the Huddersfield Thespians, 1920-2020.’
‘The Titfield Thunderbolt’ will be performed at Longwood Mechanics Hall from March 15 to 18 at 7.30pm every evening. There’s also a 2.30pm matinee on the Saturday. Tickets are available on the door, by phone (0333 666 3366), or online: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/Huddersfield-Thespians.
Early arrival is advised, as although there is parking this is limited to surrounding side roads. The main road outside the Hall is for disabled parking and drop-off only.