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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 18 November 2010
This is a collection of short documentary/educational films, made between 1950-83, some in colour, some are black and white, running times range from 5 to 40 minutes.

Many aspects of the railways are covered here, from steam, to the electrification of the railways, and diesel, also including track and railway stock maintenance, with various cleaning jobs and lost property, as well as featuring various passenger reasons for using the railways, such as work, recreation and holidays, on many occasions we see the various destinations of daytrippers and holidaymakers, these are basically short travelogues. Besides the railways, other subjects are covered by these short films, including other forms of transport, there's even the odd nature film!

This set is not just for rail buffs, these short films are a snapshot of a Britain long gone, I found myself charmed and drawn into this collection, even where normally I wouldn't have a particular interest in some of the subject matter, I still found it very soothing and relaxing to watch.
This 18 disc boxset consists of nine, 2-disc volumes, consisting of the following films:

*Volume One: ON AND OFF THE RAILS - Blue Pullman (1960,colour,25 mins)./ Elizabethan Express (1954,B/W,20 mins)./ Train Time (1952,B/W,28 mins)./ Rail 150 (1975,colour,14 mins)./ The Diesel Train Driver Part One (1959,B/W,7 mins)./ On Track For The Eighties (1980,colour,15 mins)./ Cybernetica (1972,colour,20 mins)./ Under The River (1959,B/W,27 mins)./ Snowdrift At Bleath Gill (1955,B/W,10 mins)./ This Year - London (1951,B/W,25 mins)./ This Is York (1953,B/W,20 mins)./ The Great Highway (1966,colour,20 mins)./ A Day Of One's Own (1956,B/W,20 mins)./ John Betjeman Goes By Train (1962,B/W,10 mins).

*Volume Two: SEE BRITAIN BY TRAIN - West Country Journey (1953,colour,26 mins)./ A Letter For Wales (1960,colour and B/W,25 mins)./ Cyclists Special (1955,colour,16 mins)./ Holiday (1957,colour,18 mins)./ The Heart Is Highland (1952,colour,20 mins)./ Any Man's Kingdom (1956,colour,20 mins)./ Glasgow Belongs To Me (1966,colour,17 mins)./ The England Of Elizabeth (1957,colour,27 mins)./ Capital Visit (1955,colour,20 mins)./ The Heart Of England (1954,colour,20 mins)./ East Anglian Holiday (1954,colour,20 mins)./ The Coasts Of Clyde (1959,colour,20 mins).

*Volume Three: RUNNING A RAILWAY - Operation London Bridge (1975,colour,18 mins)./ Wires Over The Border (1974,colour,18 mins)./ Groundwork For Progress (1959,B/W,30 mins)./ Making Tracks (1956,B/W,17 mins)./ E For Experimental (1975,colour,20 mins)./ Modelling For The Future (1961,colour,8 mins)./ Britannia - A Bridge (1973,colour,19 mins)./ Terminus (1975,B/W,20 mins)./ Fully Fitted Freight (1957,B/W,21 mins)./ Farmer Moving South (1952,B/W,17 mins)./ I Am A Litter Basket (1959,B/W,7 mins)./ The Third Sam (1962,B/W,10 mins)./ People Like Us (1962,B/W,9 mins)./ A Future On Rail (1957,B/W,10 mins).

*Volume Four: RESHAPING BRITISH RAILWAYS - Work In Progress (1951,B/W,25 mins)./ Wash And Brush Up (1953,B/W,26 mins)./ A Place In The Team (1953,B/W,23 mins)./ Service For Southend (1957,B/W,10 mins)./ Diesel Trainride (1959,colour,11 mins)./ Lets Go To Birmingham (1962,colour,5 mins)./ Reshaping British Railways (1963,B/W,23 mins)./ Forward To First Principals (1966,colour,30 mins)./ Freight And A City (1966,colour,21 mins)./ Second Nature (1967,colour,23 mins)./ The New Tradition (1968,colour,13 mins)./ Plumb-Loco (1971,colour,10 mins)./ This Year By Rail (1972,B/W,18 mins)./ Overture: One-Two-Five (1978,colour,7 mins).

*Volume Five: OFF THE BEATEN TRACK - Ocean Terminal (1952,B/W,30 mins)./ Dodging The Column (1952,B/W,10 mins)./ Link Span (1956,B/W,25 mins)./ Every Valley (1957,B/W,20 mins)./ Journey Into Spring (1957,colour,30 mins)./ Between The Tides (1958,colour,22 mins)./ Giant Load (1958,B/W,10 mins)./ They Take The High Road (1960,colour,25 mins)./ Wild Highlands (1961,colour,21 mins)./ Wild Wings (1965,colour,35 mins)./ An Artist Looks At Churches (1959,colour,13 mins)./ Railways For ever! (1970,colour,7 mins). (/ The Scene From Melbury House (1972,colour,15 mins)./ Age Of Invention (1975,colour,25 mins)./ Seaspeed Express (1980,colour,16 mins).

*Volume Six: THE ART OF TRAVEL - North To The Dales (1962,colour,18 mins)./ Yorkshire Sands (1955,colour,15 mins)./ Down To Sussex (1964,colour,17 mins)./ The Land Of Robert Burns (1956,colour,21 mins)./ Journey Into History (1952,colour,11 mins)./ Midland Country (1974,colour,19 mins)./ The Travolators (1961,B/W,9 mins)./ Journey To The Sea (1952,B/W,16 mins)./ London For A Day (1962,colour,14 mins)./ The Beacons And Beyond (1979,colour,26 mins)./ A Desperate Case (1958,B/W,10 mins)./ Lancashire Coast (1957,colour,15 mins)./ Golfers In A Scottish Landscape (1971,colour,21 mins).

*Volume Seven: THE AGE OF THE TRAIN - The North Eastern Goes Forward (1962,colour,20 mins)./ Right Time Means Right Time aka The Pain Train (1969,B/W,23 mins)./ Motorsport Tries Motorail (1969,colour,6 mins)./ Discovering Railways (1977,colour,12 mins)./ Current Affairs On The Midland (1980,colour,17 mins)./ Railways Conserve The Enviroment - Rail Report 11 (1970,colour,17 mins)./ Discover Britain By Train (1978,colour,6 mins)./ Old Sam The Signalman (1982,colour,7 mins)./ Journey Inter-City (1972,colour,10 mins)./ Power To Stop (1979,colour,11 mins)./ Inter-City 125 (1976,colour,23 mins)./ A New Age For Railways (1979,colour,25 mins)./ The Stone Carriers (1982,colour,17 mins)./ The Finishing Line (1976,colour,20 mins)./ Robbie (1979,colour,13 mins)./ Centenary Express (1980,colour,6 mins)./ Sir Peter Parker Talks To Jimmy Savile (1982,colour,6 mins).

*Volume Eight: POINTS AND ASPECTS - Single Line Working (1958,colour,30 mins)./ Day To Day Track Maintenance: Part One: Plain Line (1952,B/W,32 mins)./ Day To Day Track Maintenance: Part Two: Switches And Crossings (1952,B/W,20 mins)./ The Signal Engineers (1962,colour,26 mins)./ Mishap (1958,B/W,20 mins)./ Spick And Span (1962,B/W,18 mins)./ The Long Night Haul (1957,B/W,19 mins)./ Care Of St Christophers (1959,B/W,13 mins)./ Measured For Transport (1962,colour,13 mins)./ Channel Islands (1952,colour,15 mins)./ Under The Wires (1965,colour,28 mins)./ Points And Aspects (1974,colour,30 mins)./ Scotland For Sport (1958,colour,25 mins).

*Volume Nine: JUST THE TICKET - Berth 24 (1950,B/W,40 mins)./ Peak District (1954,colour,20 mins)./ Train Driver (1966,colour,10 mins)./ Give Your Car A Holiday (1967,colour,18 mins)./ Just The Ticket (1967,colour,8 mins)./ England's North Country (1978,colour,23 mins)./ Away For The Day (1952,colour,19 mins)./ They Had An Idea (1953,B/W,14 mins)./ Manhandling (1962,B/W,10 mins)./ Lost, Stolen, Damaged (1964,B/W,30 mins)./ Go As You Please In Britain (1975,colour,18 mins)./ It Takes All Sorts (1978,colour,20 mins)./ Just Like The Rest Of Us (1983,colour,24 mins).

All 125 films give a total of 38 hours of viewing, with great picture and sound quality, no subtitles.
Each of the nine volumes are stored in an extra slim case, and are stored alongside a highly informative 84-page booklet, which gives full details of each film and its running time.
The thin card outer case is rather flimsy, I had the sticky tape to my copy a couple of weeks after purchase.

Another great release by the BFI, your reputation is further enhanced by this great collection.
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on 3 December 2008
The BFI have excelled themselves with this issue which offers great value over the single dvd issues. This set spans from 1950 to 1983 of rail films made in the days when steam was still in use right to Diesel. The music and the high production values set the mini movies apart and though dated give a warm feeling. It's a side of British life that is now long gone but has been captured here to the best effect. The films vary from Rail information films for staff to general Transport films. To a selection of publicity films for various rail regions some in colour and black & white. Two that stand out for me are 'Wires over the Border' which deals with overhead power being installed in Scotland. And then 'The new age of Rail' which looks at the way rail travel has changed over thirty years. The sets comprise of 2 Discs each and the whole set has a comprehensive booklet detailing the films included. All in all a great addition to any collection and a must have for the transport enthusiast.
The films on this set are-

Vol- 1 Point's and Aspects.
Vol- 2 See Britain by Train.
Vol- 3 Running a Railway.
Vol- 4 Reshaping British Railways.
Vol- 5 Off the Beaten Track.
Vol- 6 Famous Friends.
Vol- 7 Age of the Train.
Vol- 8 Points & Aspects.
Vol -9 Just the Ticket.
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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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on 11 March 2009
This comprehensive set of BTF films covers both BR training films and general interest subjects. Much of the pleasure derives from the wonderfully atmospheric street scenes, with road vehicles from the 1950's and 1960's, splendidly dated fashions, and the fact that it is all genuine film with no computer-generated images.
There is a fair mixture of black & white and colour films, and while production qualities are way below those of 2009, that in no way diminishes viewing pleasure, but rather adds to the quaint charm.
The boxed set includes a small book about the films which is helpful.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 11 January 2016
I haven’t quite watched all of these 125 films, but I have watched most of them. So this review is based on that majority viewing.

Big nationalised industries usually had film units whose job was to record and to produce PR, training and informational films about their work. The General Post Office, the National Coal Board and the British Transport Commission, for example, all had large scale film units. Roughly speaking, these are the equivalent of today’s corporate video industry. Most of the films for the general public were exhibited via 35mm film prints in cinemas as support for feature films, and also as 16mm prints for rental to church halls, schools and film societies. Much of their output was truly magnificent and one of them even won an Academy Award ('Wild Wings' 1965). The most famous of them all was probably ‘Night Mail’ which is not included here as it was made by the GPO Film Unit in the thirties. But there are many similarly fabulous films included.

Aside from the largely unsung heroes from the shadows of the British film industry who dedicated their lives to the production of this genre, many of these films were directed by mainstream film industry talent (eg John Schlesinger, 'Terminus', 1961) and were contributed to by talented actors and composers who would go on to become household names through their work on telly and in feature films.

Robert Shaw (‘Jaws’, ‘The Sting’) voiced ‘Holiday’ (1957), ‘North to the Dales’ (1962) & ‘Peak District’ (1954), Michael Aspel voiced ‘Cybernetica’ (1972), Derek Guyler voiced one of my favourites, ‘Snowdrift at Bleath Gill’ (1955), John Betjeman presents ‘John Betjeman Goes by Train’ (1962), and Stanley Holloway voiced ‘The Third Sam’ (1962).

Ralph Vaughn Williams composed the music for ‘The England of Elizabeth’ (1957), Johnny Dankworth and Ron Grainer did the music for ‘Terminus’ and Malcolm Arnold composed ‘Channel Islands’ (1952).

One of the things which strike me most about these generally unfussy pieces of film-making is their ability to capture a truth which news gatherers and feature film makers of those times rarely did. In other words, if you want to imagine what the world would actually be like if you jumped in a time machine and shot back to those times, then this collection of films is a good place to start! Back here in 2016 they are, quite simply, invaluable social documents. 5 stars.
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on 6 June 2009
A fantastic collection. The best thing about these films is that they were mostly intended for an audience of "normal" people rather than enthusiasts. This makes the films very watchable.

Quality is excellent - largely due to the film unit employing some of the best writers and film makers.
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on 24 June 2013
Excellent films for their vivid descriptions and beautiful filming. Transport buffs may be disapointed, a number of the films are more about doing the journey and what you will see, than the transport itself, I would still recommend them to transport buffs, so as to get the whole picture of the means of travel and why it came into being and purpose.
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on 14 December 2012
Superb collection of films from the 1950's and 60's showing life in Britain. Didn't we look all look slimer then! The various films together confirm what a huge mistake it was to close so much of the rail system and transfer most frieght to the roads. We had a very comprehesive network which should have been updated rather than decimated. The rail network was integrated with a road delivery service so for example you could send your luggage by rail in advance or as shown in one film move a whole farm, including machinary, animals and people from a village in Yorkshire to a village in Sussex all supervised and in one move!
The parcels sorting sheds around the country moved everything from ladders to paint. Why did we have to shut it all down only to have to reinvent it later with the likes of DHL etc.
The other noticable thing in many of the films is the lack of excessive packaging and reuse. The throw-away philosophy hadn't taken over yet and the films show a different mentality, milk bottles that can be reused, machinary which can be easily maintained rather than constantly be replaced and pride in doing a useful day's work!
The films also show the grime and destruction in our cities still evident from the recent Second World War which thankfully has now mostly gone.
Highly recommended collection.
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on 1 February 2009
These films are well worth the money. Excellent quality, superb features and a look back at how `Great' Britain once was. The Railway shots, scenic vistas are executed with total quality. Very professional-if one has an interest in travel-especially railways-then these productions are a 'must'. Thoroughly recommended.
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on 3 August 2010
Very good quality rehash of old films. I watch one an evening - better than a session of solitaire before bedtime.
I bought it mainly for the documentary 'Farmer goes South' which features the local village of Hartfield and a 'blink and you miss it' shot of the station before closure by the 'bean counter' from about half a mile up the road from it. From Beeching's viewpoint the system may have been 'labour intensive', but that simply meant it gave a lot of people jobs. His cuts also destroyed the nation's pride in service to the community and gave rise to modern management greed and money grubbing where people are secondary to the balance sheet.
The best part of the collection is to see the old cars and buses and dress styles from the 50's to 80's and how dated they have become. It will bring back memories of youth to anyone older than 40. It will also show how badly maintained modern railways are - despite, or because of, all their 'health and safety'.
Watch the holiday films and compare them with the same place this year. Look at the roads and wonder why they were so empty.
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