The COVID-19 virus has brough a halt to the volunteer operated Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway (C&PRR) running passenger trains for the first time in its 30 year history.
The C&PRR has become increasingly well known and used as a major filming location in the last few years. This valuable income and exposure helps promote the heritage railway to the world and attracts film tourists to the village, boosting the economy.
The line was opened in the 1870s with passenger services ending in 1957. The line remained open for coal and cement traffic to and from Chinnor cement works until 30 years ago. The rural hilly line has remained largely unchanged in the last 75 years making it a superb railway filming location and with the new station at Princes Risborough, a modern station location, it offers both heritage and modern settings which have all been used as major film locations.
For any scenes and filming staged at locations not normally accessible to the public, for example on the track itself, access is strictly controlled and supervised by qualified and authorised Railway volunteers.
Who and what has been filmed recently at Chinnor?
Over a decade ago, Midsomer Murders and The Train Pirates starring Brain Blessed have been filmed at the Railway. In more recent times, filing sessions have included:
2017 The Grand Tour and Top Gear
2017 A Dutch soap episode (honest!)
2018 A Bollywood movie (honest!)
2019 BBC Silent Witness (shown in January 2020).
2019 As yet unreleased - a major joint production, set in 1939 with Chinnor station turned into Woodbridge in Suffolk, being made by BBC Films and Netflix featuring a world-famous cast.
The railway has a large car park (adjacent to Chinnor station) which can accommodate major film set make-up and food wagons, cars and HGVs.
Chinnor station, an award winning replica building, is built in traditional Chiltern style using flints while Princes Risborough station is a modern 21st century station.
Midsomer Murders and Silent Witness have been filmed at both Chinnor and Princes Risborough stations and also a quarter of a mile along the line in a deep cutting.
In between there are two wayside halts, Wainhill and Bledlow, which recreate Victorian and Edwardian era platforms. The traditional wooden level crossing at Wainhill, with a crossing keepers cottage, was used in Grand Tour filming in late 2017 when a Fiat Panda was raced against a a train with the level crossing gates removed and the road closed.
Because of Covid-19, the line only sees engineering, test and inspection trains operating with volunteers working to Government guidelines - but we are unable to operate passenger trains.
The Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway really needs your financial support in these challenging and uncertain times. The Railway costs £6000 a month irrespective of whether trains are running or not. No matter how large or small, every donation will be welcomed and it’s easy to contribute on our donations page. Not only will it help us maintain the railway, but to reopen it as soon as we are allowed and the safety checks have been completed.