Heritage Railway

“The KWVR and the world of railway preservati­on would never be the same again.”


Filming began in April 6, 1970, and lasted until June 12. There were 15 days of filming at Elstree and 39 on location, mostly in the Worth Valley.

Jenny Agutter reprised her role as Bobbie from the 1968 BBC serialisat­ion. The rest of the cast comprised Bernard Cribbins (Perks); Iain Cuthbertso­n (Father); William Mervyn (Old Gentleman); Gary Warren (Peter) Peter Bromilow (the doctor); Ann Lancaster (Ruth); Gordon Whiting (The Russian); Beatrix Mackey (Aunt Emma); Deddie Davies (Mrs Perks); David Lodge (the bandmaster); Christophe­r Witty (Jim); Brenda Cowling (Viney); Paddy Ward (the cart man); Eric Chitty (the photograph­er); Sally James (the maid); and Dominic Allen (the CID man).

Movie magic

Nearly two years previously, steam haulage had been eradicated from Britain’s national network, but the film’s contributi­on to the heritage railway sector can never be underestim­ated.

Steam locomotive­s may have been shunted by BR into history, but the widespread public affection for them would never disappear as easily.

Just as the 1953 Talyllyn Railway-inspired Ealing comedy The Titfield Thunderbol­t enlightene­d audiences as to the potential of volunteer-led railway preservati­on, so The

Railway Children reminded them that the magic of steam was still casting its spell for emerging heritage lines.

In 1999, the British Film Institute placed The Railway Children 66th its list of the Top 100 British films of all time.

In 2004, the film magazine Total Film named it the 46th greatest British film of the 20th century.

In 2005 the British Film Institute included it in a list of the 50 films you should see by the age of 14 and in 2008, the film was 30th on Channel 4’s list of the 100 Greatest Family Films.

More TV

Despite the movie’s success, television was far from finished with the novel.

A new TV adaption also featuring Jenny Agutter (appearing this time as Mother) was filmed on the Bluebell Railway in October 1999. It also starred Jemima Rooper, Jack Blumenau, JJ Feild, and North British Railway C class 0-6-0 Maude from the Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway.

Critical response was good, but while the Bluebell was much nearer the places where Edith A Nesbit grew up and inspired her, this small screen version did nothing to take away the fact that the KWVR had immortalis­ed the story on celluloid... and it would not be giving up its claim to fame that easily!

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