This film is part of Free

Snow and Flood

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 film 1947 17 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for Yorkshire Film Archive


This film shows the blizzards on the LNER line running through Westmorland and Durham, over Stainmore, up 1,380 ft., in the winter of 1947. From on board a train we pass groups of heavily clad men, looking exhausted and almost defeated, against the huge walls of snow. Help is on hand with Rolls Royce Derwent Mk 1 jet engines attached to the front of a loco, blasting the snow from off the line. While at Barlby the line is deep under water after melting snow has caused large floods.

This is one of a large collection of British Rail, and some pre-British Rail, films inherited by the track renewals company Fastline in 1996, and passed on to Fastline Photography when they folded in 2010. Even with military help the line was closed for February and March. February 1947 was the coldest on record and snow fell every day somewhere in the country for 55 days straight. This line was especially vulnerable to blizzards, being so high up and exposed to the west. It was not uncommon for the line to be blocked by snow drifts as it passed through some of the deep cuts, such as at Bleathgill and Rookby Scarth. The line, formerly the South Durham & Lancashire Union Railway, was opened in 1861 and closed in 1965.