Work in Progress – 1951 British Transport Film

Published by Darron Toy on



[Applause] no part of Britain is self-sufficient nor has been for centuries a common language and a common way of living unites our very people and the condition of that unity is transport our industry began with a stagecoach the canal and the puffing Billy with the pioneers who drove the lines and built the bridges that conquered the barriers of nature and the growth they started still goes on today we're testing new engines of revolution and design they are teaching new methods whether in the local works or in the refreshment-room you're using more mechanical devices to get jobs done quicker we're putting up new buildings to improve the service we give for transport in all its complexity is still growing and developing its history never stops and a million people are involved in it a million people some with routine jobs some working on new projects in out-of-the-way places but all of them adding to transport history a live look they do let's show you a sample just a few of the ways in which transport is always changing and growing and improving let's go first they under the North pocketed with pits and factories to the pen items that stretch like a Broads I'm down the center of England from the Roman wall to damage a natural barrier that once was accessible only to the climber and the laden peckers and now to railways a hundred years ago when manchester was growing already hungry for coal from the pits of yorkshire men built a railway that climbed the mountain barrier and a Dunford bridge they drove through the hills with chiseled to make the 3-mile Woodhead tunnel their handiwork remain the tunnel is still one of your shows links with the West but its age is against it and hardly a week passes without repairs and delay today our men are at work again driving once more through the solid broth of the hills to build a better time alongside Bo blasting down sandstone and shale 20 tons at a time in spite of the excavator and the drills tunnelling hasn't changed it isn't hard to think back a hundred years to those other tunnels whose graves lie over the hill at woody [Applause] and today the roof is still a tinker and the rough arch buildin shipped out so laborious Lee is still the only safeguard against the constant thrust of the mountain over here but this 12-foot tunnel is only a beginning but once it's through the hole heading has to be worked out with explosives and machines until it's big enough to take a double-track railway and a million tons of Pennine Rock will have been brought out into a three mile tunnel must have its ventilation shaft sunk vertically to meet the line 500 feet below [Applause] in this 16-foot circle machines are mostly too large and conflicts for the work and like the tunnelers of a century ago the men must get to grips with the rock and dispensary shape and contend with water that make course without warning from underground Springs a three years job three years fighting and changing nature three years to build a tunnel through which electric expresses will pass in three minutes as soon as the power is laid on and the belly line completed move further north now to the peninsula of kintyre in western Scotland where railways a fuel and the going difficult here it's our job to maintain the vigorous life of the Scottish countryside I road services and to convey to the crafter and the fishermen all that they may require down in Argyll just far so Campbell town is the terminal of the Argyll group of British Road services the fishing town lies sheltered in its own from the Atlantic beyond surrounded by the rich farms and the small crafts of kintyre a windswept fertile valleys and the livestock that has been well lasgo must supply all that argyllshire cannot produce for itself all that miraculous assembly of the everyday which the 20th century consumes in the past the stagecoach and the dray worth the route to campbellton then the contractors and know that I Gill a timetable trunk services that leave for the West Verde and night a same cable service it sounds ordinary enough but it's an important step in meeting the Buried needs of everybody in our culture and as well as the trunk glories seeds and fertilizers and geared for the big farms of kintyre can go if the needs be by special wagons rooted in time to suit the farmers convenience there must be thousands of lorry drivers in the kingdom but few of them have a route like this to travel a few of our drivers theory of the run eight hours of it up and down through the gears vast lumen alongside the ship breakers at Gale off head towards the bear side of the cobbler and the quiet tones beyond that lead to the scene 30 miles of Sigurd Road still to come a dirty miles drenched with Sun in summer and dense with freezing spray and winter to come down there the fishermen prepare for sea and wait on the stores beneath they're the gunnels in the networks weave and Stitch the mix and seems to supply the deep sea boots of a ver feminine person and they're the climber is at work turning cream from the richest milk in the West into butter cotton at a time for transport to the tables of Edinburgh and Inverness our transport day forward Campbell pelvis tucked away behind the Mean Street glow ago it used to be a distillery and it's important still today standing in the depot watching the flow of goods in and out you can trace from the things we send and receive the pattern and the life of the people every commodity you could mention finds its way here sooner or later a needle an anchor a blow a wedding dress local deliveries to town and villages go on all the time a red lorries are everywhere in kintyre and everyone knows them because everyone depends on [Applause] [Applause] but the people of Argyle shall do not exist merely on the sufferance of the outside world they're very much alive and the plenty to sail plenty descend back by the lorries the travel day and night on the road that links Argyle [Applause] come south now over the border South and East Cambridge and the flatbeds produce of Essex and the fen counties must travel outwards to the rest of Britain and in exchange the coal steel and manufacturers of the north and Midlands must be hauled to London and be stained how high are the Leyden wagons mixed and jumbled come into white boy yard for sorting and onward routing and the quicker they're sorted the more use can be made of them but the marshalling of wagons is very much an expert's job a train comes in will say 80 wagons all for different destinations our job is to shunt all the wagons for the same destination onto the same Road up to a limit of 40,000 a week or so and we brought some up-to-the-minute equipment to do it with but the first job is to record the destination of every wagon and pass it to the controller he can then preset the automatic quench to divert the wagons into the correct roads as soon as the wagons for the different roads are uncoupled and locomotive must be provided east rail white Moor calling shun table right round the hump and onto the back of number three over jump I will call in East route right more you won't miss it receive over radio control saves hours a day of expensive engine time from then on the most difficult thing about gravity shunting is getting the speeds right the diesel propels the wagons up the hump at a mile an hour or so once they reach the summit gravity takes over the wagons roll offered say 15 miles an hour and according to the distance they have to travel they can be slowed up by the retarder operating the retardant demands experience and concentration the weight and speed of every wagon is different but it must be slowed up just enough to bring you to a halt in its proper Road there's no let-up once a trains on the move a wagon every few seconds and the automatic point sorting about one by one delicate loads get special attention it's important I shouldn't run in too fast but speed can be critical here in lots of ways Israelite more calling shunt Baker Yuva cutter seven levees coming up jack you'll have to speed up a bit to get them down over shunt Bank rolling East rail white ball my speed is now one mile per hour and the extra 1/2 mile an hour gets the seven weapons over with a good way on them and no delay moving wagons has one advantage at least they can't answer you back across the other side of the country in Bristol our problem is moving people especially people in a hurry Bristol seaport university town industrial centre whatever you hear to call it it's crowded and full of people on the move people who have to queue for the bus and don't like it people who are irritated by the experiences that make every turn blow some time Oliver want to live in the country some people even go so far as this dear sir I really must draw your attention to the disgraceful bus service on the number 22 route last Tuesday evening I had to wait at least 20 minutes for a twenty two bus at Temple Meads etc etc right Garrett I want you to investigate this complaint right sir Heath I want you to do a four-hour check at Old Market we need to analyze the loading there before we work out our winter schedule Ronan Pope yes I want you to check the loading of Victoria rooms and then out to the aircraft works at five o'clock Magazine in Bristol the bus traffic office will not admit defeat by the inevitable congestion of a city that's grown too crowded to improve matters it's essential to find out the actual performance of the services from our door are the bus observers our effect finders of the system expert in detecting and recording the facts that reveal the weak places in the service it's largely their work that enables us to deal with this kind of criticism from the public and to just the service to the best advantage for the public must be served at select times as well as at busy ones and it's not always easy to do both even then the delays and holdups of city traffic can make a good looking schedule look like no shady will at all but when the pile ups and the gaps have been checked and located then something can be done about them benefactress the aircraft in tobacco and chocolate works that's around Bristol all have to be safe with their thousands of people knocking off at the same time wanting to get to all parts of the city elaborate arrangements are made with the works committees to get them away quickly people with an allotment to take or a game of darts to play or maybe just a home it looks like chaos sometimes but in fact careful analysis has made the scheme work pretty smoothly smoothly enough to move 6000 people from one factory in 20 minutes but in bus work nothing ever pans out quite as it ought to so there's always a relief crew to deal with the unexpected snake they have the consolation of sitting in the canteen with the off-duty men but they never know where they're going or when the bus will be needed telex very heavy on the sweeter Smith driver Smith and dr. Gregory get the bus ready for which church cities grow but not the thoroughfares that sir watchfulness and care can do much to ease the flow of traffic and meet the needs of those who depend on public transport moving people on land and moving them on water not much different you might think but at sea we have very different problems to deal with [Applause] [Applause] the channel is about the trickiest piece of C you could hope to find some try to swim it and one even try to walk it but it takes me all me time to take a ship across it twice a day yet our passengers always expect us to keep on time and by and large we usually do yet there's nothing certain about the sea you can leave Callie and whether find enough to roast yourself and make good speed and before you know where you are you'll run slap into fog the seaman's worst enemy fog is he can't relax for a moment this is the time when the lookouts come into their own and the radar radars invisible beam sweeps the sea for 30 miles keeping watch for us and the screen is like a kind of illuminated map showing ships and coastlines at various ranges just now France is showing about 8 o'clock on the screen other ships appear as white dots with a bit of practice we can even pick up the marker boys long before they appear through the fog radar is an extra help to the keen eye and experience of the seaman and you can check your course against it all the time you can keep an eye on other ships too there's one at 12 o'clock on the screen now way ahead of us in the fog but in spite of radar you've got to keep your weather eye open and follow all the safety precautions [Applause] but you can keep going in greater safety than ever you could without it mid-channel now Dover just visible on the top of the screen and two vessels dead ahead of us and this fog we'll probably never see him Dover Harbour looking like a D lying on its back is about five miles off now and getting nearer all the time but outside it's thick as ever it was none of us can relax for a moment till we've brought the ship safely through the fog to the narrow harbor entrance [Applause] [Applause] [Applause] [Applause] and then to put the lid on it when we get safely into Harbor the Sun starts to come out well that's the channel all over fickle as a woman any day anyway which will tie up at the Admiralty pier pretty near to shared you'll and the boat train will leave on time as it usually does I doubt if any of the passengers gave the radar a thought but them why should they we have shown only a little of the work that is in progress in British Transport of our 1 million workers spread all over the country there are many that you may never see all the men and women in the depots and the works the necessary people doing the jobs you never think about as well as all the familiar figures doing the jobs you know but the present never stands still the skill and experience of a lifetime the workmanship that has overcome so many difficulties these things create the new opportunities of the young in all the manifold jobs of Transport it is the young people of today trained in precision and craftsmanship who must take over where we stopped the one job could be here is always succeeded by another and it is they who must solve the problems that we shall end you you

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38 Comments

GNCGRAY BOBBY · July 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

Fantastic film….thank you

Gerald Berliner · July 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

What a beautiful film. Certainly tugs at the old heartstrings

Finn's empire · July 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

Time travel.

Wilson Flood · July 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

Road to Campbeltown has not changed. If you want nostalgia, pay it a visit. A beautiful but long drive.

Martin Farmer · July 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

How fit must those yard shunters doing manual braking have been. Bet they didn't go to the gym after work. Great bit of nostalgia.

J · July 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

This should be required viewing in the Department of Education. So many lessons forgotten.

fordlandau · July 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

British road services. What happened to this nationalised service. Trunk lorries ? Suiting the farmers needs ?

phil james · July 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

Those were the days when men were men and the health and safety police didn't exist.

Percy Harry Hotspur · July 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

Gosh! There’s a shot of a gas-turbine loco – no.18000 – one of the three built : two Brits and one Swiss. A pity we can’t hear its sound but at least it’s actually moving albeit very cautiously: wish we could have more film studies and talks dedicated to this short-lived experiment on BR.

SMILEVIDEOTRAINS · July 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

makes one realise just how good we have it these days…..or do we…..

Andrew Muhling · July 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

"..you run slap into fog."
I note the telegraph is at full speed still.
~ laughs ~

fordlandau · July 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

The Woodhead tunnel. Built at vast trouble, cost and no doubt loss of life.
So the fast electric expresses could go through it, says the proud narrator.
And they did.
Briefly.
Using an outdated electrical system from the 1930s and on route that was destroyed by Dr Beeching.
Now this great work of British engineering is a glorified electrical conduit.
Tragic.

john vanstone · July 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

Great film, great nostalgia

Blane Rhoten · July 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

That large four-stacked at the shop breakers for scrapping was the grand Cunarder RMS Aquitania.

Mizzy Roro · July 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

Jobs for men and jobs for women. How the world has changed.

Mizzy Roro · July 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

Those young people are now retired.

tom kent · July 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

"The happy highways where I went, and cannot come again."

fordlandau · July 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

It’s still a great film and I watch it again and again. Brilliant documentary making and the music is fantastic.

fordlandau · July 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

Heath and Garrett genius level bus inspectors in Bristol.

fordlandau · July 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

Trunk lorries. Suited to farmers convenience. How long did that last ?

greenfingers gardener · July 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

The days when Britain looked after the British…
Now-a-days they do not give a fuck about, us British.
its look after the foreigners 1st……..

David Rose · July 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

I wonder how many of those men working on the Woodhead tunnel had hearing, eye or chest problems in later life ? Hard hat, yes but no ear defenders or eye or chest protectors and then men working around fast revolving lathes but wearing a necktie ! I served my apprenticeship as a metal turner and I would never wear anything that could catch on machinery, my good friend did and now he's only got one arm. How times have changed.

fordlandau · July 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

In a few years this enthusiasm of the new will be tempered by the massive cost of socialising a huge capitalist industry. Many of the projects are flawed. The Woodhead Tunnel was a massive waste of money. The electrification was a failed design. Steam locomotives were ordered and built. Then scrapped less than 5 years later. The sad failed march of socialist planning.

Mark Burden · July 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

A bus company that’s pays for drivers to sit around waiting incase they are needed because it’s getting busy! 😱Nowadays buses just drive past and they don’t care. No more customer service, purely about profit nowadays.

Roland Harmer · July 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

Brilliant film! What legacy will we leave?

Red Knight 2014 · July 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

This might be a 1951 film, but I'd watch it anytime over the rubbish that's on TV these days – It's actually very good!

locowerke · July 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

Great little film, really enjoyed that!

Kenneth Hume · July 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

Really interesting film , I enjoyed every minute .

alex S · July 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

another great offering very enjoyable cheers LMS4767

Paul Booth · July 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

One of the best BT films.

del trotts · July 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

Ah…..white Britain , before muslims ,
Multiculturalism ,
Diversity ,
look at us now !!!!!!!

HOOTON HORNBY RAILROAD · July 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

A beautiful film,documents of days gone by. If you like old films as me you can see ISTITUTO LUCE and FONDAZIONE ANSALDO but i have others sites i think you can appreciate.Up for this video and for your interesting channel.
All the best,Alberto

peter dunning · July 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

Chasing after those wagons with a brake stick,[email protected] would have a blue fit nowadays

984francis · July 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

"Fickle as a woman any day".

Philip Boug · July 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

Thank you so much for this… I was 8 years old when it was made and it brings back many memories. I never knew that the BRS trucks were timetabled. Fascinating. 🙂

Bristol Rich · July 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

16:46 – all gone and replaced with a hotel and gym😢

Hero1117 · July 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

Time capsule

Dubious Engineering · July 30, 2019 at 9:10 pm

Do you repair and refurbish these films?? They are very informative and educational!

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