Newcastle in film: On the Night of the Fire

On the Night of the Fire (also released as The Fugitive) (1940) is directed by Brian Hurst and based on a 1939 novel by F.L.Green.

Will Kobling (Ralph Richardson, a barber, is tempted into stealing £100 to pay off the enormous clothing debts of his wife (Diana Wynyard). The miserly shopkeeper soon discovers where the money has come from and attempts to blackmail Kobling who promptly does him in when everyone is distracted by a major fire in the town. Actually the police have enough evidence to arrest Kobling from the start, but the film prefers to explore his descent deeper into criminality, and gives him a moral rather than a judicial comeuppance.

It's a bit of a 'Michael Smith' of a film in that, though clearly set in Newcastle, no one speaks with a local accent and the town is never named. Most of it was obviously filmed in Pinewood Studios with chirpy cockney types playing the smaller parts - although there is the odd 'up north' voice and a few references to 'mills'. Nevertheless the main characters clearly had a few days on location in these parts.

In the opening shot a tram speeds across the New Tyne Bridge towards Gateshead.

Kobling (Ralph Richardson) heads for home somewhere in the lower town.

The Scandinavia steams under the High Level Bridge as a single deck tram crosses the lower level towards Newcastle

and a G5 0-4-4 tank leads her train across the upper level probably for Sunderland.

The Koblings in happier days at the Sunday morning Quayside market.

Kobling is followed under Byker Bridge

and along a terrace near a shipyard.

Newcastle style stairs, but probably in Pinewood.

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