British Transport Films: Elizabethan Express

Published by Darron Toy on



summer is singing in streets again and summer times travels have now begun the cuckoo sings of the burnished grain and long journeys gilded by the Sun soon has a holiday passenger traveling with us number between us I think we could be with all there the superintendent of operating speaks in the ears of his timetable brains who sit in their offices calculating how to fit in fast summertime trains cudgel your brains for summertime trains join a train for the passengers waiting to hear cuckoos singing a Highland Fling drawing a line for a non-stop to Edinburgh over the time and so the new service comes into its are the morning is June the weather is fine at Kings Cross depo of motivepower the drivers come in to sign on the line of Marable toplink train driver who's always a punctual arriver wears boots foot plate size has color light eyes and engine oil in his saliva Welli Russell is matin the team often sprays out his tonsils with steam and treats gravel rashes by damping down caches and using the paste like go cream at Kings Cross the coaches are filling with passengers Porter's are willing to carry their cases and find them their places for the Tanner or even a chilly night of general gathering forces the chef's checking up his resources all the pains in your belt mr. wheeler can melt and roll your eyes around with his sauces though the guard may look calm laconic his obsession with time is quite chronic but a punctual start binds the Train to his heart the relationships purely platonic at platform 5 the Elizabethan a special Express of the holiday season summons its strength and the time to departs marks an ending for some but for many a start as the engine goes for the swing and to shine past the engine sheds there's a man on the line and gave her that shine he's the fitter his was the skill is the hands that uncoupled her rods stripped her gear packed her glands with his firm's skillful hands and the boy was one of that servicing crew who gave care and crafts to each thread on each screw and made it fit true they're the fitters the nen were the cunning to bring through each big end and piston valve spindle and spring all that power and swing the briefie is Archdeacon of elegance serves coffee with impartial sentiments cigars for the swells path patents for blonde bells and flags for the legend arrangements the passengers sitting at buffet tables the Howards the Bert's the Cynthia's the navels enjoying the comfort and ease in their seats careless of crumbs in turnips or pleats admire the gleam on the chromium plate the polish on tables the unfaded state of curtains and fabrics but rarely give thought to the long years of training the practice the torch men in large workshops the best way to take a carriage to pieces and how to remake it better than you the seats that are sat on had to be made to welcome all shapes first the material that mustn't fade or wilt under pressure was cut with a blade skillfully guided then skillfully sewn while windows were painted then carefully scraped and taps were fitted in shining chrome then the seats were upholstered material boasted and won a man was writing a sign and others were putting that last mirror shine on metal and paint the seat was finished and those who ride in it's regal embrace can truthfully claim to sit in the pride and work of a king as time gets on so people get thinner unless they take lunch or midday dinner so the kitchen car prepares to fill the waistcoat of Jack and the waistline of Jill face me much them consistently filling the gaps in their faces with food without fitting their laps they wouldn't be eating as smooth in most cars or ocean steamers or even some bars get more at night as I'm disturbed as robinson crusoe by the trains motion they swallow their meets what in the railways allows them to do so one of the factors enabling these feats of filling stomachs without filling laps is the state of the track which depends on these chaps of the maintenance games the chaps who see that the rails are tight in their several chairs who see that they're straight and on the level unlike crooks or stairs who see that the chairs are firmly fixed that no evil disturbs the sleepers who see that the gaps not been stretched in the night by clandestine creepers who see that this very important small gap will not cause any damage by wrapping some diners first class Adam's apple in chicken or cabbage who see that the passengers riding in clover can take meals on velvet and ninety or over while the side sipping countryside changes to town ed oh sweet speed well charter and Gong dream light in boxes unseen watchful eyes part sitting panel tell us no lies watch the trains passing guide her with care Junction and crossing points in a pair with a turn of the wrist the click of a switch track circuit matching font of the wish out of York City and on to the north past Dunham New Castle over tweed to the force now beyond York the Scots crew prepare to relieve the strain on the English pair no driver of trains is more proud of his Scottish descent than MacLeod he insists every engine has pipes to each piston and buttons in its box from McLeod his mate Mungo Scott's cursed with Bristol that's as tough as a John Knox epistle when he kissed a young lass in the dark for a log she asked was that for official so Nigel Gresley designed his a four with a speed of a gray arm the strength of a ball but when he put fire in her stomach he taught her to burn with a furious thirst for water so when she approaches a water trough watch farmer Mungo doing his stuff driver and Farman relieved of the strain rest now while the pounding refrain that beat itself into the cells of your brain murmurs along in the voice of the train God keep your watch on this world of corridors coaches while passengers code in safeguarded wrists are rapidly swerved past the vision of dawn swiftly unfurl the Elizabethan goes driving onwards quad buffet attendants or restaurant stewards performing their corridor service dance try to anticipate passengers once waltzing through coaches to certain compartments while signals are serving the train with clear distance but sometimes breaking this smooth onward flow though the home signals clear the distance is slow the regulator slams shut and mclarge camps on the breaks the loud hiss of steam as the train seems to slow to the pace of a cloud breaks the afternoon task and disperses the dream at the end of these wires sent men in control rooms I prompters assisting the course of a play breeding outwards like Arabian perfumes to bear there's no record of just what they say they watch every train that moves in their region of thousands of miles of railway distance and try to forestall any slightest suspicion of slack that might make its unholy appearance but while every passenger knows the importance of his own special train arriving on time the Ninian control rooms must weigh in the balance the claims of 1100 the Elizabethans a particular special never more smiled upon non-stop trade nothing with stopper the orders official and lateness would cause operational pain and at last the ultimate cause of the slack over the hills far away of the line is clear and the train picks up speed on the track through Newcastle City and over time but now the Express has lost time she'll be late unless drive attorney and Mongo his mate can make up four minutes and nearly a quarter on the difficult stretch running over the border yes driver McLeod mighty old hunter chasing each minute of time silent thunder riding down seconds over the straight track chasing the seconds lost rounding the curve track Cooke Singh each delicate petal of power out of steam suddenly blossoming flower yes muscular Mungo hard-headed toilet who keeps water flowing on the tubes of the boiler keeps up the pressure heaves tons of : make sure his drivers got enough steam to roll on then still his backache shifts as his feet work rhythmically swinging to make boiler heat work as they come down from grant us the peak of the climb they're over the worst and she's running on time you mr. Arnot of Waverly station has a very high sense of occasion if it rains our non stop her his topper is proper his humbugs for trains of low station the Elizabethan that's now arriving at platform ten in Waverly station left London at 9:30 shop this morning with mothers with sons in high expectation with fathers with daughters of pounding the path nonstop from Kings Cross in six hours and a half here Edinburgh stands on its rock by the forth singing it's welcome to those who come north where the cans and the Heather have fashioned a reason to mingle their blooms in a festival season Oh you

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36 Comments

Ernesto Guevara · May 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm

What a nice hiding place for quite possibly the most ugliest female I have ever seen!

carpetrug01 · May 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm

I really didn't appreciate the rhyming but would like to learn more about the train control rooms back then

Ernesto Guevara · May 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm

I do believe that the station announcer is quite possibly the most ugliest woman that I have ever seen!

Rowan Sales · May 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm

If you pause at the 0:03 mark of the video, you'll see a Southern Railway V Class.

joe sprinter · May 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm

Just think, all destroyed by corrupted politicians and progress.

starbattle008 · May 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm

i wish we could bring all steam trains back because diesels have no style at all

Ernesto Guevara · May 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm

I bet the grub served on this train is far better than the chemist fucked up shite we get today!

fishbelch · May 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm

Never ceases to amaze me at just how fit and strong the firemen were.

Terrance Fields · May 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm

This should be shown again because Men don't create build or fix things anymore. Showing Youthful Labour working hard and proud of what he does./they do.

Terrance Fields · May 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm

The Narrator is Brilliant. Takes advantage whenever he can rhyme.

Lindsaypeter Holden · May 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm

Pride and Skill.Don't hear those words in 2017 Britain!

rogerand out · May 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm

1954, That was a good year, that was the year I was born. The great days parse.

Peter Davidson · May 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm

A stark (factual) reminder of how railway development has unfolded over the decades since this classic film was made
The distance by train between London Kings Cross and Waverley Stations is approx 575km, which in 1954 took 6 hours plus non-stop (according to the film's narrative)
Today, the same journey by Virgin Pendolino takes just over 4 hours 30 mins
Compare that with France where a journey from Gare Montparnasse in Paris to Bordeaux St. Jean, distance approx 545km, can be made in just 2 hours 5mins!
It seems dear old blighty has been left behind, firmly in the slow lane!

Richard The fox · May 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm

Good rifftrax material

Syed Abbas · May 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm

4:04 lol, sounds like a porno. Beautiful machines tho.

MrMoggyman · May 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm

The sound, the smell of steam/oil/smoke, and the elegance of a steam locomotive is magnificent. I come from that time, as a boy, counting coal trucks, and collecting numbers. The work was labour intensive and hard, involving many men of many trades, at all hours of the day and night, in foul and good weather, but still even for that, wonderful. No deisel can evoke such passion as a steam locomotive in full flight. Just look at Silver Fox go through her paces, with that special siren whistle. You needed skill and experience to operate one of these locos. Not just a switch! No just chucking coal into the firebox, there is an art to it, and only correct placement and quantity will raise the required steam pressure. Drivers too, had to be on their toes with signals, and control of the engine in all weathers, be it day or night. My grandfathers both were steam engine drivers, one uncle senior instructor at BR, three other uncles firemen, and one uncle top link engine driver on the expresses out of Euston. The A4 Class Silver Fox, seen here on the Elizabethan none stop service, was a top link beauty of an engine as were the Princess Coronation Class locos out of Euston. If steam had continued, this is definitely what I would be doing right now! Steam, it is in my blood!! Just watching this film shows you why every boy wanted to be a loco driver. I miss this time!!

Geoffrey Powell · May 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm

I agree Altair,
             These silly women have lost the plot ,Do they not realize that striving for equality they have done away with respect to a woman like holding a door, or raising there hat also they have done away with romance and courtship and dignity.. Can't they see ?? Women should be at home waiting on there husbands and looking after the children instead they are in a state of drunkenness, Men wearing tattoos ear rings  women wearing Tatoos too  all wear trousers , the romance has gone with the filthy language these women turn out.. We will never see respect whilst women want to be equal with men who always were the breadwinner ..not so now…Very sad..

Stationario · May 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm

How proud must any relative/descendant of the footplate crew must be. Such a responsible job, but so little recognition

ZebsFrend · May 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm

Soup was served and, typical of the time, and for many in current times, salt and pepper added without tasting it first!!! Seems no one trusts a chef to produce a correctly cooked and balanced meal. Taste it BEFORE adding extra.

Altair * · May 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm

Wonderful. Incredible how people seem to have lost their polite ways compared to those of yesteryear, back then everything seemed more elegant.

Elr James · May 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm

Alan Wheatley (Adventures of Robin Hood) and Howard Marion-Crawford (Fu Manchu Dr Petrie) are narrators. Imagine the almost wonderful value for money these classy meals were, now only available to those persons of high net worth or on large incomes.

Osvaldo Cristo · May 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm

How can one to miss something that never had? I do not know… but I know I miss that time… Thanks for post.

611unterscharfuhrer · May 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm

I have read his book 48 years on the footplate, Roland Ruffell, he has a bench named after him at Levisham station on the north Yorkshire moors
 railway.

Fraser Bathgate · May 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm

The good old days of steam. I wish i was there!

48firefox · May 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm

"Watch fireman mungo doing his stuff" . Taking water at high speed was a skilled job so I am told. Lowering the scoop too early would damage the troughs, and not getting it up quick enough would cause the tender filler cap to overflow causing the first two coaches to get a soaking and anybody else sat inside that had windows open!.

Oscillation · May 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm

8:34 Sounds like a jet aircraft passing by almost! Beautiful.

Inkyminkyzizwoz · May 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm

They were tough cookies all right in them days! I think I saw this back about 1980 at a WLLR film night in a pub in Llanfair Caereinion when I was a volunteer there, and it's really great to see it again! Thanks for posting.

611unterscharfuhrer · May 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm

Rolan Ruffell, has died ,he has a bench named after him at levisham station on the north Yorkshire moors railway.

joe sprinter · May 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm

A beautiful piece of film. It takes me back to a time when skilled people were plentiful and we knew how to make things. Either the staff in the film were old or just looked it. There's no substitute experience.

Henry Taysom · May 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm

Are any (or all) of the A4's currently on preserved, and mainline duties, fitted with corridor tenders? The Silver Fox featured in this film is so fitted allowing the crews to change over en-route. The tender is also visible as the loco prepares to hookup to stock at the start of its journey:- 2.25

Robin Sharrock · May 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm

There's simply no finer sight: 4:33

ross peacock · May 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm

Amazing BTF film my little boy 4 yrs old makes us put this on at least twice a day. Bless him he loves A4's I really don't know where he gets it from apart from Spencer on Thomas The Tank Engine.. I remembered this film as a child and searhed it on here. Vastly underrated and what amazing dialogue and music, great film and thanks for uploading

orange70383 · May 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm

Dr Seuss rides a train.

dentosen · May 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm

very interesting film

Mexicolder Mike · May 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm

Well spotted! Imagine the taste of the cake with raw chicken juices…….and then the resultant "Dehli Belly"?

Matt Davey · May 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm

Shocking lack of food safety procedures at 2:20

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