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Railways on Film

Tracking shots: cinema and the railways have enjoyed a long journey together, starting in the Victorian era and yet to hit the buffers.

Cinema's railway obsession goes back to the dawn of the medium, when French pioneers the Lumière brothers filmed the arrival of a train at la Ciotat in 1895. British filmmakers soon took to the tracks, beginning a long and happy relationship between railways and film. Rail gave film all it could wish for: movement, energy, exotic adventure and its own special romance. Our collection travels far and wide, from amateur enthusiasts to the polished work of big studio productions and the official British Transport Films.

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Railways for Ever!Railways for Ever!

Documentary19707 mins

Sir John Betjeman reminisces about the phasing out of the mainline steam operation.

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The Kiss in the TunnelThe Kiss in the Tunnel

Comedy18992 minsSilent

A snatched kiss in a railway tunnel, played by real-life married couple GA Smith and Laura Bayley

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A Mug's Game, Or, How to Squash a Lemon HeadA Mug's Game, Or, How to Squash a Lemon Head

Animation & Artists Moving Image19674 mins

Yo-yo, Pogo and Splat (guess which one's the lemon head?) feature in this innovative stop-motion railway safety film

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The Long DragThe Long Drag

Documentary196351 mins Location: Settle

Not just a chance to see locomotives steaming over viaducts, with the axe hanging over both, here we have the full glory of the Settle to Carlisle line, and its place in rural life.

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Great North of Scotland Railway FilmsGreat North of Scotland Railway Films

Amateur film196326 minsSilent Location: Aberdeen

Train enthusiast David Gordon, Marquess of Aberdeen and Temair, films a stunning array of steam engines as they whistle through the colourful Scottish countryside in the 1960s.

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TerminusTerminus

Documentary196133 mins Location: Waterloo Sta

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

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The Stronach-Dutton Road-Rail TractorThe Stronach-Dutton Road-Rail Tractor

Sponsored film192521 minsSilent

Is it a car? Is it a train? No, it's a super Stronach-Dutton road-rail tractor!

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Rails To TalsarnRails To Talsarn

Non-Fiction19624 mins Location: Talysarn

Horse-drawn railway: 'Prince' and 'Corwen' pull slate wagons from Pen-yr-Orsedd quarry to Tal-y-sarn station, guided by Mr Oswald Jones, guard/driver.

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The Country RailwayThe Country Railway

News19765 mins Location: Buckfastleigh

David St John Thomas talks about his book The Country Railway

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Ovaltine - TrainOvaltine - Train

Advert19851 mins

Ovaltina will pick you up! With an electronic 80s synth and a catchy theme tune, Ovaltina parachutes in to save the day

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Midnight MailMidnight Mail

Crime19159 minsSilent

Knowledge of Morse code and having a train driver as a sweetheart come in handy in this ‘race to the rescue’ crime thriller.

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King George V and Queen Mary at a Railway StationKing George V and Queen Mary at a Railway Station

Non-Fiction1914 minsSilent

Leaving the station becomes a right royal affair when the King and Queen travel by train

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Conway Castle - panoramic view of Conway on the L.& N.W. RailwayConway Castle - panoramic view of Conway on the L.& N.W. Railway

Non-Fiction18982 minsSilent Location: Conwy Castle

Conwy's bridge, castle and station glide past, as if in a dream, in this beautiful phantom train ride film (no ghosts but apparently no train either) from 1898.

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Railway Cottages at BlackwellRailway Cottages at Blackwell

Non-Fiction19724 mins Location: Blackwell

Would you be able to cope if 500 tonnes of diesel hauled express train hammered past your front window every few minutes? Seems as if you get used to it!

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Darlington RailwayDarlington Railway

Documentary196013 mins Location: Darlington

A documentary ballad of the Darlington North Road locomen who keep the engines rolling as the age of steam gives way to diesel on the railways.

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Fatal Train SmashFatal Train Smash

Non-Fiction19311 minsSilent Location: Linslade

The clean-up begins after a Royal Scot Class express passenger train derails near Leighton Buzzard

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Birmingham Terrible Railway SmashBirmingham Terrible Railway Smash

Non-Fiction19152 minsSilent Location: Birmingham

Scenes of carnage across the west coast main line as carriage compartments are turned inside out - a mysterious rail accident with a tragic outcome

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A Smash on the L.N.E.R.A Smash on the L.N.E.R.

Non-Fiction19291 minsSilent

Dramatic newsreel showing the mangled wreckage of an express train being hoisted from the track

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Operation BluebellOperation Bluebell

Amateur film19607 mins Location: Bluebell Railway

Enjoy this charming film from Trevor White which charts the birth of the Bluebell Railway - from the germ of an idea into a fully functioning steam railway

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I Am a Litter BasketI Am a Litter Basket

Public Information Filler19596 mins

A heartfelt cry on behalf of the world's litter-baskets.

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Sale of Railway FittingsSale of Railway Fittings

Non-Fiction19645 mins Location: Derby

A sentimental sale or simply for profit? British Railways sells off the history that doesn't fit with the swinging sixties.

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The Official Film of the Railway CentenaryThe 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

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Neville Chamberlain Opens New Railway StationNeville Chamberlain Opens New Railway Station

Non-Fiction19264 minsSilent Location: Welwyn Garden City

Empire News Bulletin record the Conservative Minister Neville Chamberlain at Welwyn Station's official opening ceremony.

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To Build an Island's FutureTo Build an Island's Future

Promotional19547 mins Location: Loughborough

Through blazing sun and monsoon rain new British built diesel locomotives keep communications open on the far off island of Ceylon.

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Romance of Rail
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Romance of Rail

The passionate affair between film and the train has given us some of the most moving moving images ever shot.

Going Places
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Going Places

See Britain by train! There's no better way to explore your own country - as train companies have never been slow to remind us.

Train to the Future
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Train to the Future

All change! The railways embodied the spirit of modernity in the 19th century, and technology has wrought huge changes ever since.

Watching the Trains Go By
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Watching the Trains Go By

A trackside view: see the railway as witnessed by the passenger, the enthusiast and the amateur cine-camera.

Building a British Railway
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Building a British Railway

The railways are one of the glories of British engineering, and their maintenance remains a Herculean task.

The Man in Seat Sixty-One: Railways on Film
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The Man in Seat Sixty-One: Railways on Film

Mark Smith, 'The Man in Seat Sixty-One' (www.seat61.com) with the invaluable website for travelling anywhere by train, selects his favourite films from the Railways on Film collection.