In the 1960s many of the smaller rural railway lines were closed, and as the “British Railways – Withdrawal of Service” notices appeared, amateur filmmakers were first at the scene to document the railway line, its stations, the trains, signal boxes, and staff. In the Winter of 1962, Chib Thorp travelled along the Colne Valley and Halstead railway line, witnessing the last trains to leave each station and documenting the scenes of desolation following the closures.
Edward Beach Thorp, known as ‘Chib’, an undertaker from Leigh on Sea, spent his weekends throughout the year visiting the rural railway lines in East Anglia with wife Edna and their dog Micky, either travelling on the train or by car, to explore the countryside either side of the track.
Chib, a keen amateur filmmaker as well as railway enthusiast, always took along his 8mm camera, a good supply of Kodachrome film, and a tape recorder, to document their trips. He filmed trains at the stations, signal boxes, and of course the railway staff.
Chib would edit the film himself at home, have a magnetic stripe added to the film, and on his Kodak projector, which had a recording facility, he would record a commentary.
The East Anglian Film Archive, the first and largest Regional Film Archive in England, was established in 1976. Since 1984, EAFA has been owned and operated by the University of East Anglia, Norwich (UEA), to support research and work to preserve our moving image heritage. More than 250 hours are freely available online as examples of the wide range of film which attracts interest the world over.