Review of the Month: March

The Steam World Archive Series, Volume 34: the Derek Phillips collection- North East and Yorkshire

Telerail, Royal Scot Suite, Carnforth Station Heritage Centre, LA5 9TR
Description: DVD, running time: 67 minutes
Price: £30 (£20 with reader offer in SW 378, December 2018)

Telerail’s latest DVD release is the first volume of a new series based on the Derek Phillips collection, focussing on the North East and Yorkshire in the final years of main line steam.

It starts at Alnmouth on the East Coast Main Line and then takes in a large range of locations and workings that five a real flavour of the railways of the time. The opening sequences around Alnmouth and Alnwick set the scene, with plenty of time spent on the beautiful train shed at Alnwick, which thankfully is still with us today.

It then moves on to the Blyth and Tyne, looking at coal workings in the area, including some of the NSC systems, then on to ‘9Fs’ on the Tyne Dock-Consett iron ore trains, the Bowes Railway- and its rope workings and, as they say, much, much more. There are well-known locations aplenty (the sequence around York is excellent) but also more rarely filmed places such as Richmond and Catterick Camp. Passenger workings are most common in Yorkshire, and it is pleasing that Derek devoted attention to the Fairburn ‘4MT’ 2-6-4Ts which hauled so many local passenger trains in West Yorkshire.

What immediately strikes the viewer is the focus on goods, which by the time Derek Phillips was filming, was the majority of steam working. So there’s ‘Q6s’, ‘WDs’, ‘9Fs’, 0-6-0s and more- most absolutely filthy and some looking in a pretty poor way. It’s not glamorous, but it was reality in all of its unvarnished grime. There is a gritty atmosphere throughout the 67 minute running time of this DVD, and when on occaasion the ‘white heat of technology’ intrudes, the contrast between the steam railway and the more modern world appears stark.

The film footage is aided greatly by use of recordings of each type of locomotive from the Peter Handforth collection, often exquisitely synchronised to the point where you could swear it was happening at the time of filming. This, in turn is backed by a comprehensive but seldom intrusive commentary which adds a good background to the scenes and context with what areas are like today and the fate of some of the locomotives.

It is always the mark of a great production that time seems to fly when watching it, and just over an hour passed very quickly indeed. It’s a superb DVD that will appeal to anyone who remembers those last few years of steam, and indeed, to those of us who don’t. The next volume- due out around Easter- is set in North West England, and one we’re very much looking forward to.

~Andrew Roden

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