This exhilarating time lapse film proves the romance of railway travel continued long into the diesel age. Armed with his Super 8 cine camera, a schoolboy train spotter heads west along the Tyne Valley Line from Gateshead to Hexham. As the train hurtles ever forward, mesmerising, high-speed, smoky blue views of parallel tracks, telegraph poles and urban landmarks recede from the rear window into the past.
Shot on Saturday 9 March 1985, this journey commemorates the 150th anniversary of the first passenger services on the Blaydon to Hexham section of the Tyne Valley Line, built by the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway. A charming example of the special kinship between cinema and the railroad, John Briggs’ film captures evidence of change in these momentary landscapes – the new Metro Centre in Gateshead, old branch lines to the Derwenthaugh Coke Works (demolished in 1986), and the twin chimneys and cooling towers of the Stella South power station (demolished between 1992 and 1996), built on the site of the Blaydon Races in the “brick cathedral” design style and a landmark in the Tyne valley for almost 40 years.