The North East Film Archive is one of a network of regional film archives established to collect, preserve and show film made in, or about the North East of England. Our collections are non-fiction, and date from the early 1900s to the present day, providing a rich record of life in the region over the 20th century. Many of our films are available to watch, free of charge, on our website.
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British Rail Closure Haltwhistle - Alston Line
British Rail threatens to close the scenic Haltwhistle to Alston rail line. Is anyone bothered?
From the collection of:
‘It seems tragic, and I suppose George Stephenson would turn in his grave, but it does look like another railway line is rapidly going to go into extinction.’ Tyne Tees TV reporter Brian Shawcross travels the quaint South Tyne Valley rail line from Haltwhistle to Alston, threatened with closure, and interviews the few passengers in a near empty train. One woman claims this picturesque route is a magnet for tourists with cine cameras and there will be protests if it is axed.
Six years later in 1976, 5,000 people turned out to ride the last train to run on the scenic 13-mile route of the Haltwhistle to Alston line, which first opened back in 1852 when the track was completed across the spectacular Lambley viaduct. On a wet Saturday morning in May, Alston Station rocked to the sound of 70s disco music, a mock coffin and wreathes were left on platforms along the route, and two pipers played a lament as the final train departed (on time) at 9.09pm. It was the last surviving passenger branch line in rural North East England. Much later, the market town of Alston became the inspiration for the quirky fictional northern town of Royston Vasey in the popular BBC comedy League of Gentleman.