Film: 5130

Railways | 1930 | Sound | B/W


The story of the Great Western Railway from its foundation in 1835, with it's planning, construction and locomotives. Wonderful Swindon works heavy industry. The first 100 years of the G.W.R.
Historical reconstruction of meeting of shareholders and backers of the Great Western Railway in 1833. Man arrives for meeting by horse drawn carriage and two men enter gates on foot. The two turn and recognise the passenger alighting from the carriage. Men all greet one another by touching their hats and shaking hands. A meeting of men listening to the proposal for the construction of a railway. Man stands in front of map of Southern England and talks of the proposed railway line having a port at each end (Bristol and London). Seated men applaud and nod their heads. Close up of line on map. Man points at map. Other man writes with quill pen. He is brought a note and smiles and nods as he reads it. Lots of businessmen smiling and applauding. The rousing conclusion to the speech. Long shot of second speaker standing to speak. Applause as he rises to his feet. Close shot of man talking of the great City of Bristol. Well received speech as men seek confirmation of approval from their neighbours with lots of nodding of heads and applause. Speaker holds his hand up appealing for quiet in a show of quiet pride or false modesty. He refers to the brilliant young engineer Brunel. Man sits and receives applause. Good close up of a line of pairs of hands clapping. Several Acts of Parliament dating from the Reign of King William IV shown.
Still in historical reconstruction, inside a large, light and airy room a man sits a table reading a newspaper spread for him. Another man, Brunel, paces the room. Brunel stops and leans against another table. He is very impatient for Parliament to pass the Great Western Railway bill. 'It must go through. Why have people so little vision'. Seated man turns and tells Brunel to be patient. Older man enters room and announces the passing of the bill. Brunel is delighted. Man shakes hand of Brunel who we learn is a 'lad of 27'. Brunel is modest and walks away to look at plans at the window. We learn that even George Stephenson has approved the plans. Older man talks to Brunel who is off screen and good naturedly wags his finger at him. 'Don't work too hard'. Man in foreground sits as older man and Brunel shake hands. Older man leaves. Brunel shuts door and advances into room. Seated man rises and sits on edge of desk as Brunel talks romantically of railway construction. Brunel strikes a pose and states he wants his 'work to last'. The two men look at a plan. A plan of a viaduct dissolves into the Lord Warncliffe Viaduct.
Outdoors. A surveyor at work as three labourers walk by. Plans of Maidenhead Bridge. Brunel talking of the width of the span of his brick bridge. Quick cut away to 1935 and two trains pass on the bridge.
Historical reconstruction of surveyor at work using surveyors instrument as companion looks at plans. Pointing into distance. Two workmen or navvies pass in front of camera - good low shot. Brunel in 1838 talking to an artist who is producing a picture of what Paddington looked like prior to the work on the Paddington terminus. Brunel holds reins of his horse as he talks to man. Lines of pennants and bunting. A decorated railway station. People joyously running along railway embankment. Low shot of engine 'North Star' trundling along. Ecstatic people run along embankment and wave their hats in the air. Crowds greet the arrival of the North Star railway train to Maidenhead railway station. People in open wagons smile and laugh and reach down to onlookers. Military officer holds railway carriage door open as two ladies alight. Porter opens door for gentleman and lady to get out of train. Man kisses three ladies who emerge from carriage. Brunel and his wife alight from carriage, and he acknowledges a warm reception. Close up of top hats being raised in the air and waved in front of the pennants. Close up of blueprints of railway engines.
Man rides on side of railway locomotive and jumps to the ground when the train stops. This is also the North Star. He rushes towards a wooden building. Men rush towards the engine driver and his fireman. The main man here is called Gooch (he is played by Donald Wolfit). He announces the engine he was travelling on reached 60 miles per hour with the wind against them. Gooch talks to a group of men very good naturedly. Man fusses with Gooch's clothing, but Gooch pushes him away. He does not want to be dusted down. Group of men walk off past sign reading 'Hand Day Signals'. Foreman talks to labourers. He points his finger at one if only to emphasise a point, and not in a threatening manner. Close up of sign mentioned above with two men looking at it. They glance away. Foreman breaks meeting up. Workman picks up axe and slings it over his shoulder. Date on bottom of sign changes from 1840 to 1867 to indicate the passage of time.
Gooch is no longer the locomotive engineer, but is now the chairman of the G.W.R. In his office gooch reads a letter. He announces the Prime Minister Disraeli has refused a loan to the company because he does not feel it is a strong company. Gooch tells his adult son that the financial situation is serious. Son Henry wears a dressing gown and smokes a cigar - a sign of indolence. Gooch says the journey from London to South Wales must be speeded up, and that he believes in the Severn Tunnel scheme. Gooch says that during a recession it is confidence and not caution that is essential. He clenches his fist to emphasise a point. Development is needed. Images of Navvies using pick axes superimposed on map of GWR region. Uniformed railway man holds his arms in the air. Map of Great Western Railway's expansion. Close up of map section between Bristol and Newport with the Severn Tunnel proposal highlighted. Mining or digging teams in the tunnel under the river. The two sides meet. One gruff voice says 'Oo says we couldn't make a tunnel under the Severn'. Gooch is the first man to climb through the hole, in 1887.
Elderly couple in their parlour. Gooch reads his newspaper as his wife talks to him. He folds the paper as he sits at the breakfast table, and hands it to her to read an article about herself. Camera slowly tracks in. She is amused to read about herself. He chuckles. She lays her hand upon his shoulder, and wags her finger at him as she says something praiseworthy. Man enters and is offered coffee as he seats himself. The three talk and laugh. Younger man tells Gooch he will never be allowed to retire. Gooch wags his finger for emphasis and says there is a feeling that the GWR will have to effect a changeover throughout the entire system, from Brunel's broad gauge to the more usual narrow gauge.
Night time shot of railway lengthman shining a lantern on a sign referring to the conversion of gauge. This says that work on gauge conversion will start on the evening of Friday May 20th 1892 and will continue till Sunday May 22nd. Silhouetted foreman blows a horn. A team of railway workmen carrying shovels over their shoulders walks along in single file, silhouetted in evening light. They start to dig and shovel. Two men in office enthuse that work has started on schedule. Men digging out gravel from around rails. Lots of shovelling. The two office men are delighted as they had had everything prepared, 'thank heaven'. Workmen, one of whom wears a deerstalker. Using a large hand drill and a large saw. Tightening a nut with a long handled spanner. Men crowbar one rail line nearer other line. Superintendent measures gap between rails. Two excited office workers read a piece of paper, possibly a telegram saying the trains may use the tracks the following morning. Workers throw shovels in a heap and sit down to illustrate the end of a job well done. 200 miles of track were changed from broad gauge to narrow gauge in two days. Silhouetted shot of labourers working with gas lamps to light their night time work. Lighted flares used as torches. A demonstration of signals in 1892 turns to the date 1935. Men holding (presumably) red and whit flags and signalling, first with white, then with red flag. Board reads 'GWR 1835 - 1935', and further titles are shown: 'Beauties of the West Country', Gems of Architecture', ' Seaport Communications', and 'Where the engines are made'. The film is now up to date (1935). A railway signal. Inside a signal box. The signalman hears bell and looks out of the window. He pushes button on control panel. Railway steam train 4021 at a station. Signal lights up 'Main'. Train's whistle. Close up on engine driver's hand on lever which he pulls. Locomotive wheels turn. Train steams off in clouds of steam and smoke. Locomotive wheels. Inside of signal box with a train visible outside through window. Train passing under signals gantry, possibly at Paddington Railway Station. Fireman shutting door of firebox. Pistons pumping. Pressure gauge. Fireman at work. Lots of quick shots of parts of the train, accompanied by a railway music theme. GWR pressure gauge. Good shot of engine whistle blowing.
'Beauties of the West Country'. Cattle grazing on cliff top. Waves break on a rocky coast. Trees in blossom. Cornish fishing village with men launching boat from beach. Probably Penzance harbour with boat in shot with registration 'PZ50'. Another harbour with boats on sand and steep hillside covered in houses. Boat is registered'BM'. Another Cornish fishing village. Semi tropical plants of South West Cornwall. Palm trees. Tall ships in harbour. Seafront in South Devon, possibly, with a steam train passing by. Steam train passes quickly through station.
'Gems of Architecture'. Superimposed montage of statues, churches and cathedrals, with never ending trees passing in superimposition. Train travels quickly to camera and past it through station.
'Seaport Communications'. Montage of dock and port scenes:
A long shot of an unidentified dock, a crane. A docks railway, crane, tug boat and larger boat, dockers and crane lifting pallet of wood from nearby railway truck, dockside activities, gantries on rails, a lift, huge stack of timber or logs, an estuary. Passing telephone lines seen from a train. Close up of track passing by. Another crane lifting sideways along its arm, passing line of wagons, possible tank engine, bucket crane, man lifting sack over his shoulder, railway train crossing iron bridge, with 'I. K. Brunel' written on it, possibly the Tamar Bridge. Lifting bucket off ship, man carrying sack along plank from carriage, turning crane, man emptying and folding sack, steam pulled goods train crossing same bridge as earlier, GWR pressure gauge, fast track and pistons montage, wheels coming to a halt.
Horse and cart which is very heavily laden turn a corner, boxes and baggage and storage, inside of warehouse with trolleys pulling various items, horse's head with a man holding the harness, cartload of hay being driven along, hand held trolleys, bails of wire fencing. A very fast and quickening montage of activities related to carriage and transportation of goods, doors closing, locks being turned, police constable's face in profile, hitching wagons or carriages together, coupling, engine driver leaning out of cab of engine 5929. Whistle blows and after initial slipping of locomotive wheels, the train starts to move. Train passes camera. From a camera position on the side of the engine, the train enters a tunnel.
'Making locomotives at Swindon Works'. Molten iron or steel, men in foundry, heavy hammering machines, pouring molten metal into moulds, using tongs to carry red hot steel. Sparks, men covering their eyes as a form of protection from the sparks. Making springs, man hammering. During this section there is excellent editing to the music. Good close ups. Rolling coiled wire.
The making of component parts, drills, lubrication, close ups. Apprentice at work, older man. Swarf cut from machined steel. Welding, wheeling wheels on track. Lots of welders wearing masks.
Assembling. The factory - lowering large engine parts from the roof. Cogs and wheels, cylinders. Pulley systems. Lowering the whole boiler. Lowering part of the superstructure of the engine. Fitting superstructure onto wheel base. The funnel. Completed engine 6013 rolls out of sheds sideways. It is called King Henry VIII, a King Class locomotive. Men manually turn engine on turntable. Engine in steam. Man loads wagon of coal into tender, filling water tank, putting oil in some delicate part of the engine. Castle Class Engine Tintagel Castle 5011. Castle class 5014, Goodrich Castle, slowly travels over the camera position.
Sir Robert Horne, the chairman of the Great Western Railway makes a boring speech, intercut with extracts from the film. Vignette of modern surveyor. Horne holds his arms in the air.

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