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Filming At Aldwych July 2002In June and July 2002 the Cravens unit was used for filming work on the Aldwych Branch. The filming was carried out for a comedy drama being made for Carlton TV. The 1940s setting would ideally have seen the use of the 1938 Stock unit belonging to LT Museum, however at that time the "Starlight Express" had not been certified for operation. Fortunately the CTC for the Cravens unit was about to be re-issued providing an opportunity for the train to visit another part of the network and a welcome boost to our finances. The filming work was the first time that the Cravens unit had outside the confines of Ruislip Depot since the Centenarian tour of 2000. Before leaving Ruislip the train was thoroughly cleaned!
Moving the Cravens to the Aldwych branch was no simple task and took place overnight 24/25th June. It involved the movement of 3 trains - a train of '72 TS has been stabled on the Aldwych branch for several years, this was to be accommodated at Ruislip for the duration of the filming. A train of '73 TS was provided to follow the '72 TS back to Ruislip in case of failure. Upon arrival at Holborn the Cravens had to wait for the removal of the '72 Stock. Because the branch is no longer part of the operational railway the junction onto the branch had to be operated manually and secured with clips and scotches - this required a possession between Covent Garden and Russell Square.
Filming was carried out in the platform at Aldwych and in the trailer car.
The film was called Dead Gorgeous and was shown on Carlton TV in October 2002. The train returned to Ruislip early on the morning of 9th August 2002.
The Aldwych Branch - A brief HistoryThe short and lightly used spur of the Piccadilly line known as the Aldwych Branch resulted from the complex early history of the line. The Piccadilly Line as we know it today resulted from the amalgamation of the routes proposed by three separate projects. The Brompton and Piccadilly Circus Railway was to link Piccadilly Circus and South Kensington, while the Great Northern and Strand Railway would run between Wood Green and Aldwych (The Strand). The District Railway had also proposed a deep level tube duplicating its already heavily used route between Earls Court and Mansion House.
These schemes were merged following the intervention of the American financier Charles Yerkes. The District Railway scheme was abandoned but in 1906 the Piccadilly Line opened between Hammersmith and Finsbury Park.
For reasons that remain unclear the Holborn to Strand section was also completed and opened in 1907. To avoid confusion with the Euston and Hampstead Railway station (which today we call Charing Cross!) the station was soon renamed Aldwych.
From the start the line was lightly used, the awkward track layout at Holborn meant that through services could only operate in the northbound direction, so the branch was almost always operated as a self-contained service. During the First World War track in one of the running tunnels was lifted. Various extension proposals were made over the years including extending the branch to Waterloo.
The Aldwych Branch closed in 1994 because of the expensive repairs required to lift machinery. However the track has remained in place and the tunnels, the disused platform at Holborn and Aldwych station have been used extensively for filming work. The buildings at street level have also been used for special events, for example product launches and art exhibitions. More information on the history of the Aldwych branch including maps and photographs can be found at the excellent London Underground History website.
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