Monday, February 01, 2010

Sophia Loren in Crumlin

The Crumlin Viaduct was a wonderfully impressive structure that once spanned the Ebbw Valley. It was the highest viaduct in Britain and the third highest in the world. Built in 1855 it was made of cast and wrought iron. It closed in 1964 due to maintenance costs which amounted to little more than its seven-yearly paint job. Criminally it was taken down altogether in 1966.

Not long before it was dismantled the viaduct experienced a bit of pop cultural gloss. In the summer of 1965 Sophia Loren and Gregory Peck turned up there to shoot a scene for their latest film Arabesque. It involved them running along the catwalk of the viaduct whilst being shot at, and buzzed by a helicopter (see pic).

Before shooting could begin 10 streets (approximately 200 homes) had to be evacuated in the area to comply with a Ministry of Aviation ruling. 350 Crumlin citizens were moved to emergency centres (2 church halls) where they were given cheese and ham sandwiches and a cup of tea. They also received a £2 “disturbance fee”.

During breaks in filming Loren and Peck signed autographs and chatted to the hundreds of people who had arrived to watch proceedings. One onlooker, a Mrs Nora Beecham, said: “I held Sophia’s hand. This is a wonderful day for Crumlin.” Loren herself, wrapped in a thick blanket and clutching a hot water bottle, said: “The countryside here is beautiful and the people are so kind and friendly – just like my native Naples.”

Today Crumlin is perhaps best-known for being the home of Pot Noodle.