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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Richard Beeching must have come across as quite a decent chap, 28 Jun 2010
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This review is from: British Transport Films Collection [DVD] (DVD)
Between 1949 and 1986, the British Transport Films Commission produced over seven hundred films. This set comprises over a hundred of them. There are far too many to comment upon, so here's some facts and figures to help you decide whether this is a good purchase.

About half of the films are devoted to purely railway interests; about twenty-five films are all about visiting places in Britain; eleven films are about transport in general; and six are about road transport in particular - buses and lorries. There are four nature films, three on history, three on social issues, and two exclusively on shipping.

About half the films are in colour. The longest film is forty minutes, the shortest five; the earliest dates to 1950, the latest 1983; there are fifty-five films from the fifties, thirty-four from the sixties, twenty-eight from the seventies, and eight from the eighties. (The writing on the wall for the film unit in the early years of Thatcherism is made in the commentary for a 1982 film called `The Stone Carriers': we "must reconcile social needs with good business sense". Obviously it was soon thought that the film unit did not make `good business sense' and it was disbanded.)

It would be invidious to pick out famous names, but here's a rough list: presenters - Richard Beeching, Jack Simmons, Peter Purves, and Jimmy Savile; narrators - Michael Aspel, Deryk Guyler, John Betjeman, Robert Shaw, Donald Houston, Peter Scott, Stanley Holloway, John Piper, and Raymond Baxter; writers - Montagu Slater, Laurie Lee, and Brian Redhead; and composers - David Fanshawe, Elizabeth Lutyens, Grace Williams, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Ron Grainer, Arnold Bax, and Malcolm Arnold.

What did I learn from this set? Well, a great deal. I now realise that Britain really did lead the world in many aspects of train technology right up to the Thatcher era. I learned that stationmasters often wore top hats. I learned that some station announcers did knitting in between their announcements. And I learned that Richard Beeching must have come across as quite a decent chap. And that John Betjeman is right when he says, "The railway disease is caught early: it's quite harmless."
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 27 Sep 2013 20:32:34 BDT
Terry Torria says:
Richard Beeching just did the job he was hired to do. The real villain was his boss Ernest Marples - the Transport Secretary who awarded his own company the contract for the M1 motorway. It was he who ordered the act of national vandalism for which Beeching has been made public whipping-boy. The following Labour government then reneged on their pre-election commitment to stop the closures.
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Nicholas Casley
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Location: Plymouth, Devon, UK

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