bfi Transport Films


British Film Insitute British Transport Films Collection, Vol. 2 (BFIVD715)  buy now at Amazon

See Britain by TrainSee Britain by Train is the second in the bfi’s superb double-disc DVD compilations of British Transport Films. Combining favourites from the best-selling video series with additional material, it represents the best of British travel film-making from the post-war era. A booklet containing an introduction and film notes by BTF historian Steven Foxon accompanies the discs. The collection focuses on beautifully crafted and poetic travelogues that were made during the 1950s and early 1960s to inspire the public to travel and to promote business. The films are very subtle in their message and whether promoting day return trips, party travel or family holidays, they succeed brilliantly in combining fantasy and reality. In images as diverse as bustling cities, scenes of idyllic rural tranquillity and majestic mountain landscapes, they offer an escapist paradise to a bygone era where permanent sunshine and adventure are just a journey away. Highlights among over four hours of footage include: Cyclists Special - A very rare and novel film of how British Railways can cater for party travel. Holiday - The 1950s free-cinema movement inspired new styles of non-fiction filmmaking. This film catches all the atmosphere of a traditional holiday by the sea, along with the zest and good humour of ordinary people released from their everyday routine. The Heart is Highland - One of the most popular of all the BTF films shows aspects of the lives of Highlanders, linking developments in industry, agriculture and transport with the country's dramatic past. Any Man's Kingdom - Previously unavailable in the BTF series, this stunning film also captures the heart-warming Northumbrian atmosphere. The England of Elizabeth - This triple international award-winning film looks back in wonder at the Shakespearean era and the time of the first Queen Elizabeth, with commentary narrated by Alec Clunes and a score by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Disc 1 West Country Journey (1953, col, 26mins); Letter for Wales (1960, col & b&w, 25mins); Cyclists Special (1955, col, 16mins); Holiday (1957, col, 18mins); The Heart is Highland (1952, col, 20mins); Any Man's Kingdom (1956, col, 20mins);

Disc 2 Glasgow Belongs to Me (1966, 17mins); The England of Elizabeth (1957, col, 27mins); Capital Visit (1955, col, 20mins); The Heart of England (1954, col, 20mins); East Anglian Holiday (1954, col, 20mins); The Coasts of Clyde (1959, col, 20mins)


The British Film Insitute British Transport Films Collection, Vol. 3 (BFIVD720)  buy now at Amazon

Running a RailwayThis collection contains four hours of footage, including the multi-award-winning Terminus, directed by John Schlesinger. The other rare gems include: Farmer Moving South - The true story of a Yorkshire farmer who decided to sell his land and move his entire stock - cattle, pigs and poultry, machinery, ploughs and tractors - south to Sussex by rail in December on what was the coldest night of the year. I am a Litter Basket - Every day, the people who use railway stations drop hundreds of tons of litter all over the place, while me and my mates have to stand by, empty and starving. Until, one day, we get so desperate, we go foraging for ourselves. And what happens? Take a look at this film. It makes me weep to think of it. I nearly gave up all hope, until - but wait and see! Modelling for the Future - Visions of an earlier Channel Tunnel scheme and a model of the proposed terminal. This film demonstrates a range of facilities and shows the possibilities of an age-old dream - a dry land crossing between England and France. The Third Sam - Sam Smith is taught to drive an electric locomotive. He learns the new job without difficulty but one day his train breaks down and Sam summons up three sides of his character to deal with the emergency. With narration, in typical rhyming monologue, by Stanley Holloway, this is an original and amusing approach to instructional filmmaking. E for Experimental - An account of the development of British Rail's experimental Advanced Passenger Train (APT) The film explains in simple terms some of the many novel design features of the APT, including the tilt mechanism and the hydro-kinetic brake, and shows the train in action during its trials. All these films are now preserved in the bfi National Archive. The DVDs are a ‘must’, not only for the transport enthusiast, but also for anyone who enjoys historical documentary films. A booklet containing an introduction and film notes by BTF historian Steven Foxon accompanies the discs.

Disc One Operation London Bridge (1975, col, 18mins); Wires Over the Border (1974, col, 18mins); Groundwork for Progress (1959, b&w, 30mins); Making Tracks (1956, b&w, 17mins); E for Experimental (1975, col, 20mins); Modelling for the Future (1961, col, 8mins); Britannia - A Bridge (1973, col, 19mins);

Disc Two Terminus (1961, col, 20mins); Fully Fitted Freight (1957, b&w, 21mins); Farmer Moving South (1952, b&w, 17mins); I am a Litter Basket (1959, b&w, 7mins); The Third Sam (1962, b&w, 10mins); People Like Us (1962, b&w, 9mins); A Future on Rail (1957, b&w, 10mins) USA by Rail - The complete guidebook for train travel throughout the USA and Canada.

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