Narrow Gauge Railways hold a special place in the affection of many. On these little lines run quaint and historic locomotives and rolling stock, often in beautiful and unspoilt country, far from big business and bureaucracy and all to a very human scale. Yet these lines, so lovingly maintained today, were born of commercial need – real or perceived – and passed long years in workday obscurity. Sadly they were, by their very nature, highly vulnerable to economic slump and to road competition, and by the 1950s all, alas, were either dying or already defunct.
The revival of some of these lines is a tale as inspiring as the demise of others is sad. Dr. Brian Rogers, a Worcestershire G.P, had the good fortune to visit many of them, on both sides of the Irish Sea, while they still served their original purpose, while as a preservation pioneer, he himself was a part of the rescue of a living British heritage.
This video of Dr. Rogers’s cine record, filmed mostly between 1945 and 1960, brings us scenes of historic ‘firsts’ on some better-known lines; unique footage of little-visited concerns, such as the Penrhyn and Padarn systems in Wales and the West Clare – still fully steam-operated – in Ireland and some long, wonderfully romantic scenes in the contrasting, but both totally unspoiled, countries of Montgomeryshire and Donegal. Here is a unique record of the end of a past era, a salute to those lines which did not survive and a tribute to the pioneers who saved so much. (Running time 59 minutes approx.)
‘This video has been professionally put together, with a clear and highly-informative voice over, and is both entertaining and educational – a must for the narrow gauge enthusiast’s video shelf.’ (Steam Railway 1996) ‘This is a remarkable and enjoyable record of times long gone.’ (Welsh News 1996) ‘Of the various archive video programmes that have been offered of late, this stands out as one of the best. This is one of those rare specimens; a video that deserves watching time and time again.’ (Railway World) ‘The finale in early days of colour film in County Donegal were so nostalgic, that I was overcome somewhat by this time – warp.’ (MAT7 1/4 Gauge News/June ’96) ‘..expertly presented.. ‘ (Narrow Gauge News) ‘With an informative commentary we can warmly recommend this video as a reminder of days gone.’ (Ffestiniog Railway Society Journal)