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The steam railway has been part of Britain’s heritage for 200 years. In that time it has evolved from the cutting edge of technology, through the driving force of industrial expansion, to the accepted form of transport and, more recently, a much-loved, living, part of our industrial legacy. In this programme, using film shot over the last quarter of a century, we reflect upon the development of steam and celebrate our great railway heritage.
In the industrial heart of the country railways performed a vital role in moving the goods to and from the manufacturing bases and carrying the workers to the great factories. We see mineral trains headed by powerful goods locomotives on part of the last main line to be built, and travel alongside the great River Severn on one of the best-known railways of all. Steam takes us along the railway to Shakespeare’s birthplace and to the Races at Cheltenham.
Branch lines have a charm of their own and are the home of many of the smaller locomotives which played such an important part in industry. The famous West Coast Main Line plays host to some of the most famous express locomotives such as “Duchess of Hamilton” and “Princess Elizabeth”.