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Freshford

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In 1952, the Ealing comedy The Titfield Thunderbolt was filmed in Freshford, and on the nearby Bristol and North Somerset Railway.

When the "Titfield" branch line is threatened, the locals get together a plan to buy the line themselves and larks ensue.

Watching it now, the film creaks like a dodgy floorboard - but it's a fascinating period piece. In the wake of the Beeching Railway reforms, village life is it had been for a hundred years, idyllic and peaceful, was under severe and sudden threat. The squire's speech at the public inquiry gives a perfect snapshot of 1950s development paranoia.

“You're condemning our village to death", he says. "Open it up to buses and lorries, and what's it going to be like in five years‘ time? Our lanes will be concrete roads, with numbers instead of names! There’ll be traffic lights and zebra crossings!”

In the film, the villagers triumph, and are allowed their railway. Real life wasn't so kind. Six years after the making of the film, the Bristol and North Somerset lines were pulled up. But the interesting thing looking back on it now is that the film got the threat wrong. The threat to the English village wasn't from buses or lorries. It was from the car: the great provider of freedom for rural existence, and arguably its greatest tyranny.

There is not a single car in the whole film.

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