Hitching a ride on the Mad Dog steam engine

Engine 48773 on the Severn Valley Railway, arriving at Hampton Loade station on August 30 2001

TWENTY YEARS AGO today (30 August), Survivors fans began a four-day location trip – in the midst of a Foot and Mouth epidemic – with a visit to the Severn Valley Railway.

But it’s only in the last couple of months that it’s become clear that – even though those present were not aware if it – the attendees on this Reunion enjoyed an additional Survivors‘ location experience.

The steam locomotive pulling the train that the Survivors aficionados boarded at Kidderminster station, and which took them to Hampton Loade station, was the original engine used for the filming of Mad Dog back in 1977. It’s the train on which Charles Vaughan escapes his pursuers in the Peak District before arriving, exhausted and unconscious, at this same station.

The reason that the connection was not apparent at the time of the trip was that the locomotive (which bore the number 8233 at the time Mad Dog was filmed) was later reassigned its original service number 48773. This fact was confirmed as part of a return visit to the Severn Valley Railway during the Mad Dog 2019 location trip. It was not until a recent rewatch of Adrian Hulme’s video memento of the 2001 trip that the significance of the previously disregarded engine number suddenly became apparent.

This means that, while it was engine 8233 that was Charles’ salvation in Mad Dog, and it was engine 48773 that pulled the train from Kidderminster to Hampton Loade on 30 August 2001 – it’s one and the same engine.

Engine 8233 / 48773 has since been withdrawn from service and is currently on display in the SVR engine house adjacent to Highley Station pending a full overhaul and complete refurbishment.

So while there’s no prospect of fans being able to take another trip courtesy of the pulling power of the ‘Mad Dog express’ any time soon, one lucky group of enthusiasts already enjoyed that experience some twenty years ago today – even if they had no idea of their luck at the time.

Survivors fans on the platform at Hampton Loade station on August 30 2001
The sign for Hampton Loade station, taken on August 30 2001
Survivors fans at Kidderminster station on August 30 2001

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