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The Man in Seat Sixty-One: Railways on Film

Mark Smith, 'The Man in Seat Sixty-One' ( with the invaluable website for travelling anywhere by train, selects his favourite films from the Railways on Film collection.

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The Man in Seat Sixty-One: Railways on Film
View Inter-city Magic
Inter-city Magic
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Inter-city Magic 1977

Not-so-special special effects add the magic touch to this kitsch British Rail commercial.

30 mins United Kingdom Director. Paul Dickson

"I so remember ads like these from my childhood."

A Blast From The Past - I so remember British Rail ads like these from my childhood. And I do miss those restaurant cars!

View Terminus
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Terminus 1961 U

The daily rhythms and dramas of Waterloo station are captured in John Schlesinger’s influential early film.

33 mins United Kingdom

"It strikes a real chord with me."

This is a classic, really beautifully made. It shows a day in the life of Waterloo Station in 1961. How we forget the cigarette-butt-strewn asphalt concourse and smoke-stained brickwork. I was Station Manager for Charing Cross and Waterloo East (the through station next door) back in the 1990s, so it strikes a real chord with me - both the similarities and the differences!

View Pathways of Perfection
Pathways of Perfection
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Pathways of Perfection 1937

The Royal Scot, the Flying Scotsman, the Cornish Riviera and the Golden Arrow: famous trains considered to be upholders of a great British tradition

16 mins United Kingdom

"This film showcases four classic British expresses."

This film showcases four classic British expresses as they were in 1937: The Royal Scot London-Glasgow on the LMS, the Flying Scotsman London-Edinburgh on the LNER, the Cornish Riviera London-Penzance on the Great Western and the Golden Arrow London-Dover for Paris on the Southern Railway. All but the last are trains you can still ride today, but have we lost something of that 1930s glamour?

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Night Mail
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Night Mail 1936 U

The flagship of the GPO Film Unit's output and a cornerstone of British documentary, featuring music by Benjamin Britten and the verse of W.H. Auden.

23 mins United Kingdom Director. Harry Watt, Basil Charles Wright

"Another classic film."

Another classic film, with the Night Mail from London to Scotland crossing the border to the sonorous words of W H Audens famous poem 'Night Mail'.

View The Lady Vanishes
The Lady Vanishes

The Lady Vanishes 1938 U

An old woman disappears mysteriously on a busy train in Hitchcock’s delightful classic.

97 mins United Kingdom Director. Alfred Hitchcock

"One of my favourite films."

One of my favourite films and an early Hitchcock no less, in my book easily the best film version of the story with suspense and humour in equal measure. Michael Redgrave must help Margaret Lockwood solve the mystery of the missing Miss Froy, played by Dame May Whitty. Oh for the days when travel across Europe meant a 'WL' for Wagons-Lits on your antimacassars!

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