Film: National Coal Board and A4 locomotives

Located at Yorkshire Film Archive
Film ID:

NEFA 21739



This film by railway enthusiast and filmmaker Chris Lawson records the dwindling steam rail traffic of the mid to late Sixties in the North East region.  In the first half of the film there is an emphasis on the engines working for the National Coal Board at a time when the mining industry was beginning to shrink. The second half of the film looks at the streamlined grace of the A4 Pacific locomotives and also the famous Flying Scotsman.

The film opens with a view of a level crossing where a small saddle tank shunting engine (possible an NCB National Coal Board engine) reverses pulling an old railway carriage. Next, a shot of the engine from the cab, at eye level with the chimney looking towards the carriage it’s hauling. The old carriage is characterised by its clerestory windows. Another view is taken through the side ‘eyeglass’ window of the drivers cab looking along the length of the engine. An external view from the trackside follows as the engine slowly reverses with the carriage. At a level crossing beside a terraced street the engine, now facing forwards, pulls the carriage across and continues down the line.

The film cuts to a shot of another level crossing(?) and signal box as a diesel engine approaches hauling wagons.

A DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) leaves a station, the destination board at the front is blurred. The film cuts back to the saddle tank engine which is travelling alongside some parked empty wagons.

Cut to a long shot of a marshalling yard, in the distance some tall chimneys which belong to  Blyth’s A and B power stations. The camera pans left to right to show the giant wooden staithes at Blyth, surmounted by rows of coal trucks .

An NCB saddle tank pushing NCB coal wagons along an embankment . A low angle view from the side of the embankment shows the train’s progress.

The film cuts to a long shot of a rail enthusiast risking all to stand on two coal wagons, straddling the gap between them, presumably to get a better view of Blyth coal staithes in the background.

The film cuts back to the small shunting engine on the embankment then cuts to a rather subdued view of a steam passenger train in the middle distance. The camera tracks the progress of the train.

Next a rather dark view taken at sunset (?) of a steam engine approaching the camera (details indistinct).

The film then cuts to an A4 Pacific  negotiating a network of rail lines, as it goes past a signal gantry. A long shot over a river in misty conditions shows the same engine (?) at speed on a riverside line. A long view in open country again shows the same engine and train(? indistinct image).

The film cuts to a general view of a steam goods train hauling wagons away from the camera. The film cuts again to a reversing steam engine hauling wagons along an embankment, more or less silhouetted against a setting sun.

The film cuts to a distant view of a curve on an embankment and an approaching steam train. A number of enthusiasts in the foreground try to capture its progress. The film the cuts to a high angle view outside of Newcastle’s Central Station as an A4 Pacific  ‘Bittern’ train negotiates its way across the famous ‘diamond’ rail crossing.

A cut follows to a steam engine approaching at speed along an embankment pulling a passenger train. The engine is the famous ‘Flying Scotsman’ in its distinctive green livery. It speeds off into the distance, with what maybe a special excursion for steam enthusiasts. A short general view follows of a steam passenger train as it speeds past, this is followed by another shot of the same train in a more urban setting near a modern housing estate.

The film cuts to a tracking shot as a car and the A4 Pacific Sir Nigel Gresley vie for speed supremacy. The car films the engine as it comes alongside and overtakes the car. The film cuts to a viaduct with, in the middle distance another bridge or viaduct at 90 degrees to the railway line as Sir Nigel Gresley speeds across.

A general view follows as another steam train speeds along an embankment. In the distance across a multi arched bridge another steam train makes its way.

There follows a close up trackside view of the double tender Flying Scotsman makings it way slowly along a track possibly somewhere near the Central station in Newcastle. The next view shows the engine reversing across the High Level Bridge towards the Newcastle side. Next a long view of the Scotsman at speed across a viaduct.

The film ends with a trackside view of another steam engine this time Clun Castle, a Great western 4073 class 4-6-0 Collett. It reverses into a siding and then forwards out on the Gateshead side of the Tyne (?)

  • Decade