Signalman, The

Date: 1976
Director: Lawrence Gordon Clark
Production Company: British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

Stars: Denholm Elliott, Bernard Lloyd
Location(s): Shropshire, Worcestershire

Region(s):

Storyline:

Adapted from the story by Charles Dickens for BBC Television’s ‘A Ghost Story for Christmas’, this is a short film telling the tale of traveller who meets a lonely railway signalman troubled by a ghostly spectre. The production was shown theatrically by Picture House.

Additional Information:

Screen captures by Phil Wilkinson

 

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Seeing a train approach in the distance whilst out walking from a country inn, a Traveller (Bernard Lloyd) makes his way towards the nearby railway cutting.

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“Halloa! Below there!” the Traveller calls down to the Signalman (Denholm Elliott) standing motionless by the side of the track. This is Birchen Coppice Cutting at the Kidderminster end of Bewdley Tunnel on the Severn Valley Railway in Worcestershire.

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"Is there any path by which I can come down and speak to you?"

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The Signalman indicates a rough zigzag path, descending into the dark, damp cutting. British Rail had ceased operating passenger services over the line in 1970.

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Having picked his way down to the track, the Traveller glances upward as an eerie humming passes along the telegraph wires. The signal box was constructed for the film but interior scenes were filmed in the SVR’s Highley signal box in Shropshire.

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After listening to the Signalman as he tells of his duties and his life, the Traveller returns to the inn across the foggy moor.

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The following evening, the Traveller hears a story about an apparition that appeared beneath the red danger light before a fatal train crash within the tunnel. The 480 yard long Bewdley Tunnel stands on the route between Kidderminster and Bewdley.

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The troubled Signalman next gives an account of the spectre foretelling the death of a Young Bride after falling from a train. The Severn Valley Railway extension between Bewdley and Kidderminster opened in 1984.

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Returning again to the signal box, the Traveller makes his way across the moor.

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Through the window of the signal box, the Signalman sees the spirit gesturing for a third time and, with a sense of foreboding, goes outside to investigate . . . . .