The late 1950s and early 60s may well be considered the climax of British Railways’s steam operation. Pre-grouping locomotives were still at work alongside modern BR standard types; freight traffic of all varieties was still widespread, while branch lines, both rural and urban, were still plentiful in those days before the fateful Beeching closures. Cine photography, however, was then the hobby of but a few.
One of this small band was Wolverhampton schoolmaster Geoff Bannister, who, between 1957 and 1966, travelled widely over the railways of west and south west Britain with his camera, concentrating on the branch and rural scene but taking in parts of the mainline as well where the character of the railway appealed. His nostalgic record is of a scene and a way of life now changed beyond recognition or vanished entirely. This programme, the first of four volumes of Geoff Bannister’s archive, comprises a roughly circular tour through the West Midlands. Beginning on Geoff’s doorstep, on the short lived Oxley-Kingswinford line, we travel anticlockwise through the counties of Staffordshire, Shropshire, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire before returning to the Black Country.
The following locations are covered: Oxley – Kingswinford Jct. Wolverhampton – Shrewsbury mainline Wellington – Stafford Wellington – Coalport Buildwas – Bridgnorth – Bewdley Shrewsbury – Craven Arms (mainline) Clee Hill (including incline and quarries) Woofferton junction – Tenbury Wells Cleobury Mortimer – Ditton Priors Leominutester – Bromyard Ledbury – Gloucester Ash church – Upton-on-Seven Broom Junction Midland/SMJR Lickey Incline (mainline) Birmingham area goods lines etc. 1962 railtour