The South West Film and Television Archive (SWFTA) is the regional film archive for the South West of England. Established in 1993, SWFTA's core collection comprises of the combined programme libraries of Westward Television and TSW (Television South West). The archive also cares for a significant number of donated film collections, both amateur and professional, dating back to the early 1900s.
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The Country Railway
David St John Thomas talks about his book The Country Railway
News 1976 5 mins
From the collection of:
Westward TV reporter John Doyle visits Buckfastleigh to interview David St John Thomas about his book the Country Railway. David talks about the introduction of the first machines to travel faster than any animal and depicts the race to open new lines that then become part of the landscape they serve. The Country Railway is a history of the people who conceive, build and run the railways but also a portrayal of the railways' role of bringing in and taking away people and goods.
David was raised in Devon during WWII and his first job was as a reporter for the Western Morning News in Plymouth specialising in transport and holiday stories. He worked with the Dartington Hall Trust producing reports on rural transport. He wrote his first book in 1959 and set up the publishing house David and Charles. The Country Railway, first published in 1976 and redesigned since, is thought to be one of the most widely read books about railways with thousands of copies sold.
Railways on Film
Documentary 1970 7 mins
Sir John Betjeman reminisces about the phasing out of the mainline steam operation.
Documentary 1960 13 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.
Documentary 1936 24 mins Location: Euston Sta
The flagship of the GPO Film Unit's output and a cornerstone of British documentary, featuring music by Benjamin Britten and the verse of W.H. Auden.
Promotional 1954 7 mins Location: Loughborough
Through blazing sun and monsoon rain new British built diesel locomotives keep communications open on the far off island of Ceylon.
Non-Fiction 1926 4 mins Silent Location: Welwyn Garden City
Empire News Bulletin record the Conservative Minister Neville Chamberlain at Welwyn Station's official opening ceremony.
Non-Fiction 1925 19 mins Silent Location: Darlington
A grand parade of locomotives to celebrate 100 years of railways and the world’s first passenger trains
Recollections of Our Summer Holiday at Babbacombe South Devon August 1931 Recollections of Our Summer Holiday at Babbacombe South Devon August 1931
Amateur film 1931 10 mins Silent Location: Babbacombe
Bowling along country lanes in the family's Austin motor car plus dancing on the beach: the delights of a holiday in Devon
The Inauguration of the Dart Valley Railway by Lord Beeching The Inauguration of the Dart Valley Railway by Lord Beeching
News 1969 1 mins Silent Location: Buckfastleigh
Lord Beeching inaugurates a privately run Dart Valley Railway
News 1977 3 mins Location: Buckfastleigh
Pam is the new police constable in the village of Buckfastleigh
Amateur film 1975 33 mins Silent Location: Rainhill
Come and see Rocket 150, and visit a selection of railway locations, past and preserved.
News 1977 1 mins Silent Location: Buckfastleigh
The Dart Valley Railway operates a quaint steam service on the Primrose Line
Industry sponsored film 1960 24 mins
A new luxury express is put through its paces. This film looks over the shoulders of the select band of craftsmen, engineers and operators, whose combined skills try to ensure that a train journey is a delightful experience.
Documentary 1973 15 mins
British Transport Films record the varied daily lives of their neighbours as seen from the high roof of their building in London’s Marylebone.
Travelogue 1953 21 mins Location: York
The Stationmaster at York guides us through a typical day, from dawn to dusk.
Industry sponsored film 1957 20 mins
Illustrating the efficiency of express freight trains, and how they link manufacturers with their customers at the other end of Britain.
Documentary 1952 30 mins
Examining a day in the life of what was then the busiest railway system in the world – British Railways.
Industry sponsored film 1957 9 mins
A 1957 film examining the future for British Railways, and some of the opportunities provided by a new modernisation plan.
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