Building a British Railway
The railways are one of the glories of British engineering, and their maintenance remains a Herculean task.
The Victorians left us with a network of stunning complexity, but the technology has changed beyond recognition. Even at the end of the Victorian age - as moving pictures arrived on the scene - engineers were grappling with the challenges of adapting a railway for the 20th century. Film cameras have witnessed every major development since then, from constructing locomotives to replacing bridges, to dieselisation and electrification. These films are a stunning record of the sheer effort and invention required to keep Britain on the rails.
Mining Review 19th Year No. 11
196611 mins Location: Castleford
Coal touched all our lives, as this issue of the cinemagazine demonstrates with items on a miner's wife turned mayor, a Coal Board chess team and more.
Great Northern Railway Works at Doncaster (1901)
Documentary19006 minsSilent Location: Doncaster
Countless men, women and children spill out on to the screen from "The Plant" at the heart of the Yorkshire railway town.
Severn Valley Railway
Non-Fiction19767 mins Location: Bridgnorth
Is Chris Tarrant up to shovelling a ton and a half of coal to keep the fire burning and the steam up between Bridgnorth and Bewdley?
Repairing Track After Mustard Gas Attack
Industry sponsored film193945 minsSilent Location: Northampton
With the horrific effects of gas warfare still fresh in the memory, rubberised men – like extras from a 1950s British sci fi movie – prepare for more, with 1940s attention to detail.
Railways - Derelict and Preserved
Amateur film197533 minsSilent Location: Rainhill
Come and see Rocket 150, and visit a selection of railway locations, past and preserved.
Employees Leaving Furness Railway Works, Barrow (1901)
Non-Fiction19011 minsSilent Location: Barrow-In-Furness
An all-male Edwardian crowd is filmed leaving work in the north western town.
Margam Marshalling Yard - the system of automatic control
Industry sponsored film196120 mins Location: Margam
Skill, ingenuity and gravity, combined with a ‘hump’ or slope, have produced Europe’s first automated yard for organising thousands of railway wagons at Margam, Port Talbot.
Reconstruction of Hill Street Birmingham
Industry sponsored film194953 minsSilent Location: Birmingham
An engineering feat: Second city civil engineers complete a new bridge to carry traffic over New Street's tangled railway intersections.
Employees Leaving North Eastern Engine Works, Gateshead (1901)
Non-Fiction19013 minsSilent Location: Gateshead
A tide of flat-capped rail factory workers is ushered past the camera after a day's work.
Cardiff - trains, docks unloading/loading
Home movie19472 minsSilent Location: Cardiff/Caerdydd
Dockers move timber, a signalman moves points: Chris Jenkins, amateur film-maker and proprietor of a Cardiff hair salon, tries his hand at filming an industrial landscape.
The Official Film of the Railway Centenary
Non-Fiction192519 minsSilent Location: Darlington
A grand parade of locomotives to celebrate 100 years of railways and the world’s first passenger trains
Home movie196514 mins Location: Coedpoeth
Follow the journey of the empty ‘Mineral’ train (small, cheap wagons used to transport mine products) from Brymbo Steelworks to Minera (limestone) Quarry via Coedpoeth.
Railway Scrapyard - Barry
Home movie19818 mins Location: Barry/Barri
“Help”, “Save me”, “I need a home”, are the cries inscribed on the scrapped engines at Woodham Brothers Scrapyard, Barry. Other messages are warnings e.g. “Do not take parts!!”.
LNER Manufacture of Switches and Crossings
Non-Fiction19466 minsSilent Location: Gateshead
Despite the thousands of railway films, there must be few that show the detailed construction of sections of railway track inside a workshop just after the last war, as seen here.
Assembling track at Chalk Lane Sidings, Hull
Non-Fiction195722 minsSilent Location: Hessle
This is a fascinating, and somewhat puzzling, film of railway workers assembling a large section of crossover track, apparently not in situ.
Buffer Stop Tests at Bradford
Industry sponsored film19457 minsSilent Location: Bradford
What with all the loose shunting, it isn’t surprising that buffer stops were given a gruelling examination, although both the buffers and the tests are rather unconvincing.
Snow and Flood
Industry sponsored film194717 minsSilent Location: Barras
Like a scene from Dr Zhivago, this train struggles through spectacular blizzards as gangs of men armed with shovels attempt to clear the 30 foot high snow drifts over the Pennines.
Walton St. Xing - New
Industry sponsored film19635 minsSilent Location: Kingston upon Hull
A time when milk floats were commonly seen on our roads, along with Ariel motorcycles, helmets with leather ear coverings and the local corner shop was advertised on a hoarding.
Remodelling Church Fenton North Junction
Industry sponsored film194815 minsSilent Location: Church Fenton
With not a high vis vest in sight, dozens of men in overcoats, welding shovels and crowbars, seemingly just lolling around, get to work replacing large sections of railway track.
Unloading Girders at Skelton Bridge
Industry sponsored film19306 minsSilent Location: Skelton
A workman balances on the edge of a swing bridge, some 80 foot above the Ouse, instructing the placement of a 680 ton girder. Is this an extension or just running repairs?
Mining Review 6th Year No. 3
Cinemagazine19528 mins Location: Calverton
New colliery opens at Calverton in Nottinghamshire and a visit to Rugby Locomotive Testing Station
Hartlepool Sleeper Depot
Industry sponsored film195713 minsSilent Location: Hartlepool
The life of a railway sleeper is not an easy one, and here they get prepared for the rain, the snow and ice, and the thousands of tons of steel hurtling over them, day in day out.
Documentary197413 mins Location: Goathland
Desolate stations, abandoned locos and derelict tracks under grey skies become transformed by dedicated volunteers, unmotivated by money, into a marvellous steam railway.
Building a British Railway - Constructing the Locomotive
Magnificent glimpses inside Crewe’s famous works - where a steam loco takes shape before our eyes
Brunel's Railway Today : Intercity Paddington-bristol
150th anniversary of the Great Western Railway: the official film
Great Yarmouth Dockside Railway
Amateur film19303 minsSilent Location: Great Yarmouth
There’s an obliging pose for the camera by a brawny and tattooed docker as his fellow workers push the freight along Yarmouth’s Rail Line.
Land of Invention
Documentary194111 mins Location: Edinburgh
Scotland is celebrated as a crucible of the modern age in this profile of a "strange, restless, enquiring country"
Diesel Power on British Railways
A variety compilation of British Railways' first generation of diesel locomotives on display and in action.
Railway Bridge across the Thames
Documentary196830 mins Location: Victoria Sta
The Grosvenor Railway Bridge gets a 1960s upgrade while trains continue to thunder over it - an impressive engineering feat
A Visit to Locomotive Works, Crewe
19136 minsSilent Location: Crewe
The lengthy process of building a Claughton class locomotive is shortened through the magic of moving image
Animation & Artists Moving Image19703 mins
Cartoon calamities are in store for the proper Charlie in this rail worker safety message, but there's serious advice too
The Building of a Locomotive at Crewe
A 1920 mistitled re-release of the construction of a Great Western Railway 'Star' Class locomotive at Swindon.