The British Film Institute presents the best global cinema on-demand:
From classic and contemporary films to the best of the BFI National Archive.

The Modest Millionaire
The Modest Millionaire

The Modest Millionaire 1985


This film is certified

Please confirm that you accept our terms of use.


The Modest Millionaire 1985

25 mins United Kingdom

Bang in the middle of Thatcher’s yuppie revolution, but one millionaire refuses all the trappings of wealth to work for 12 hours a day, six days a week, alongside his workers loading and unloading barges as they transport steel from Rotherham to Goole. Victor Waddington, “one of the last Victorians”, prefers manual labour to the high life, and giving away money to spending it. Yet although he sees himself as “one of the lads”, there are hints that the lads don’t share his view.

This is a Yorkshire Television production, part of the Northern Line series, narrated by Geoff Druett. At one point Victor Waddington’s barge transport business was running 80 barges and chartering ships to take the loads on from Hull to Europe and beyond, although much of his wealth came from property. Boating was clearly in his blood, and it was much to his persistence that the (now renamed) Waddington Lock at Swinton had its cargo limit increased from 100 to 700 ton boats allowing the canal to compete with road and rail. He was a tireless campaigner for waterways transportation of goods until the end of his life in 1999, aged 91. As well as being a member of the Home Guard, his joinery shop made dummy guns for them.

Yorkshire Film Archive collects, preserves, and shows film made in, or about Yorkshire. Our collections are non-fiction, dating from the 1890s to the present day, and providing a rich and visually compelling record of all aspects of lives, cultures, landscape, industries, major events and everyday activities, many of which are available to watch, free of charge, on our website.




Barges Canals Water transport Freight transport


Shipbuilding on Film




United Kingdom

Read lessRead more
Part of

1,000s of beautifully preserved films, capturing 120 years of Britain on Film

The map


View All

Welcome to a new subscription service like no other.

>100s of hand-picked classics and critically-acclaimed films

>Critic Mark Kermode picks a must-see film every week

>No contract, cancel anytime

Cookies Policy

This website uses cookies, as explained in our Cookies Policy.

To accept the terms and hide this message please click 'I accept'.

I accept

Passionate about film? So are we…

Don't miss the email made for the in-the-know film fan:

New releases — on the same day as in cinemas Special collections & unheralded classics Exclusive news on discounts

Never ask | Ask me later