3 hrs. 50 mins.
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In this enthralling programme from 1994, we visit the North of England, birthplace of the industrial revolution and home to an enormous variety of steam interest. In Middleton, one of the world’s oldest railways has been resurrected, while the Bowes Railway works its early rope-hauled inclines. In the Lake District, narrow gauge steam conveys tourists through the beautiful scenery of Ravenglass and Eskdale, but equally delightful are the standard gauge railways over the North Yorkshire Moors, and in the high valley of South Tyneside.
Active preservation societies operate traditional Pennine branch lines at the Keighley and Worth Valley, and in East Lancashire. Steam centres at Carnforth and Southport maintain locomotives which have access to BR’s main lines, but the whole is fi nely complemented by collections from the National Railway Museum at York and the Beverly Museum of Army Transport.
Scotland has a proud railway tradition, and its steam heritage has been kept alive by a number of preserved railways, some of which are featured in this absorbing programme from 1994. Foremost is the Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway, where the Scottish Railway Preservation Society operates both its own and BR’s metals, culminating in a long-awaited return of steam to the Highland Main Line. In Glasgow, the Museum of Transport has preserved locomotives from all major Scottish Railways, as well as commemorating the Glasgow Tram.
Industrial Railways are represented by the Scottish Industrial Railway centre near Ayr, and by a small, but dynamic Railway Society at Prestongrange in East Lothian. While in the Highlands, the Strathspey Railway, and the Caledonian Railway at Brechin provide for the tourist and enthusiast alike.
The Bluebell Railway was Britain’s first preserved standard gauge railway and in 1994, when this engrossing programme was produced, was still expanding, as was the nearby Kent and East Sussex, and the Great Central Railway (which has now adopted main line running). The Severn Valley Railway promotes itself as Britain’s premiere steam railway, while Paignton and Dartmouth is ‘the holiday line’. All demonstrate the enormous enthusiasm generated by the steam locomotive. Other tastes are catered for by the Lavender line’s Wine & Dine Steam Specials. The Sittingbourne and Kemsley and the Foxfield Railway both appeal to industrial enthusiasts, and the incredible Romney Hythe and Dymchurch, the most fully equipped 15” gauge railway in the world, is also featured. We fi nish with the South Devon Railway, the epitome of a GWR rural branch line.
The small narrow gauge lines that once carried slate and other materials from the quarries to the Welsh coast led the way for the British Railway Preservation Movement. This delightful programme from 1994 shows how these lines provide for railway enthusiasts and tourists alike, and also features the activities of the Ffestiniog Railway, Welsh Highland Railway, Bala Lake, Llanberis Lake, Corris and the father of them all, the Talyllyn Railway.
Railways at Fairborne and the slopes of Snowdon (Wales’ highest mountain) were built to cater to visitors, as was the Conwy Valley Rail Museum and the Great Orme Tramway at Llandudno. But standard gauge locomotives were also busy, on the Llangollen Railway and on the Cambrian main line along the North Wales Coast. The programme ends in Aberystwyth, with the Electric Cliff Railway, and the Vale Of Rheidol, the last steam to be operated in Britain.