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.
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.
Documentary19006 mins Location: Doncaster
Countless men, women and children spill out on to the screen from "The Plant" at the heart of the Yorkshire railway town.
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?
Industry sponsored film193945 mins 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.
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.
Industry sponsored film194953 mins Location: Birmingham
An engineering feat: Second city civil engineers complete a new bridge to carry traffic over New Street's tangled railway intersections.
Non-Fiction19013 mins Location: Gateshead
A tide of flat-capped rail factory workers is ushered past the camera after a day's work.
Home movie19472 mins 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.
Non-Fiction192519 mins 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.
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!!”.
Non-Fiction19466 mins 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.
Non-Fiction195722 mins Location: Hessle
This is a fascinating, and somewhat puzzling, film of railway workers assembling a large section of crossover track, apparently not in situ.
Industry sponsored film19457 mins 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.
Industry sponsored film194717 mins 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.
Industry sponsored film19635 mins 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.
Industry sponsored film194815 mins 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.
Industry sponsored film19306 mins 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?
Industry sponsored film195713 mins 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.
Amateur film19303 mins 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.
Documentary196830 mins Location: Victoria Sta
The Grosvenor Railway Bridge gets a 1960s upgrade while trains continue to thunder over it - an impressive engineering feat