Film ID:
NEFA 12757



Visitor Tabs


A promotional film made by Turners Film and Video Productions for the Tyne and Wear Transport Executive looking at the design, construction as well as operation of the recently completed Tyne and Wear Metro integrated transport system on Tyneside. The film includes  a number of landmark moments in the Metro’s development including the official opening of the system by Queen Elizabeth II on the 6th November 1981.

The film opens on a high angle view of Newcastle, showing the central motorway with the distinct outline of the Tyne Bridge and the steeple of All Saints church in the background.

The film cuts to a Tyne & Wear Transport Authority bus, possibly travelling along the Great North Road. This is followed by a panning long shot, left to right of a Metro train in the distance travelling through a suburban setting.

Title: Metro: The Way Ahead

The film cuts to busy Metro station (possibly Haymarket) with passengers coming through turnstiles.

The film changes to show a distant view of shipyard cranes on the River Tyne panning right to left to reveal passengers standing in the shelter at Wallsend Metro station. A train pulls up at the platform. The film cuts to one of the bus halts next to a station. A long shot shows Metro trains travelling along a viaduct. The frame opens up showing more of the built up area of Tyneside.

A passenger buys a ticket from a Metro station ticket machine. A long shot shows a Metro train going over a bridge on the Tyne, with a strong backlight from the setting sun.

A high angle view shows one of the integrated metro and bus stations. General views show people moving through Metro stations, using various services. An aerial shot shows the Tyne and its bridges. On camera a man gives his favourable opinion of the Metro system. On a Metro train a woman gives a similar opinion, another at a ticket barrier speaks favourably of the system, other people on camera give their assessments of the service.

The film cuts to show a full size working replica of ‘Locomotion’ (probably filmed at Beamish Open Air Museum) the first engine to transport passengers on a public railway. Shots show the engine being stoked with coal and various shots show it travelling along the railway.

A portrait painting shows Tyneside industrialist Charles Parsons followed by a portrait of Charles Merz, a leading Newcastle based electrical engineer. A panning shot from left to right shows Locomotion in action again. An illustration shows an electric train that used to serve Tyneside and the local towns and suburbs north of Newcastle in the early 20th century, one of Britain’s first electric railways.

A high angle shot shows traffic building up, just on the Gateshead side of the Tyne bridge. A high angle view follows of Neville Street in Newcastle, opposite the central station.

A cut follows to show the current state of one of the old stations; Tynemouth served by diesel trains on the north Tyneside ‘loop’. Passengers wait on a platform as an approaching train draws to a halt. Next a cut to a bus queue in Newcastle, outside the Eldon Square development along Percy Street. Cut back to an old station where passengers are buy tickets from an old fashioned ticket office.

Close up of bus passengers putting old tickets into a ‘used ticket’ collection box, as they leave a bus. Cut back to a station seen earlier as a diesel multiple unit (DMU) pulls out of the station.

The film cuts to a shot of a new Inter City 125 mainline passenger train, travelling towards the camera. The film cuts cut to a high angle view of Princes Street in Edinburgh. General views follow of traffic in Edinburgh city centre. A station entrance is featured on the S-Bahn transport system in Munich city centre. General views follow of passengers heading for the escalator at one of the stations, and of passengers on one of the trains.

Back to a general view of Newcastle central motorway, seen at the beginning of the film. The film cuts to a local planning meeting, based on the Tyne and Wear plan and a publication called Tyneside Rapid Transit Analysis. The former publication being an overview of land use, transport services and roads on Tyneside. Its recommendations include a light, rapid integrated transport system.

Early developments show a prototype train on test, followed by another view of traffic in Edinburgh then a shot of one of the new integrated Tyneside Metro stations.

A map shows the pre-Metro route of railway lines both north and south of the Tyne. Then superimposed on this the proposed modifications to create a new Metro service

An architects model shows a transport interchange, where buses and the Metro service meet. The film cuts to show a copy of the Tyneside Metropolitan Railway Act published in 1973. The passing of this act allowed work on the system to begin. The film cuts to a ceremony where, from a stage with a banner proclaiming ‘Britain’s 1st Rapid Transit System, an official announces the cutting of the first sod to formally commence building works.

A military band begins to play, and the official (the mayor?) climbs on to a mechanical digger, to lift the first load of excavated material which will begin work on the north south tunnels.

The film cuts to show two workmen positioning a ‘Road Closed’ sign on one of Newcastle’s streets. A brief long shot shows Grey’s Monument, cutting to two men working underground, digging through the boulder clay which lies beneath Newcastle. Spoil from the excavation is lifted by crane out of one of the shafts which leads to the underground works. A brief shot follows of one of the tunnelling machines at work. The tunnel walls are lined with curved cast iron panels, and where conditions allow concrete lining is used.

A graphic display shows the geology of the locality south of the Tyne where sandstone makes up part of the substrata, which is honeycombed with old mine workings.  The graphic changes showing the route of tunnelling work leading to Gateshead Metro station. Cavities of former workings date back to the 14th century are infilled before tunnelling begins.

Close up shows a tunnelling machine at work, followed by a view of a running or service tunnel which is of a different shape to the tube tunnels for the trains. A high angle shot shows construction work for the station at Gateshead which stands on the filled in site of an 18th century quarry. A shot follows from a different perspective of the new station, in the background the famous Trinity Square car park.  The film cuts to high angle view of the finished station, panning right showing the bus interchange.

A breakthrough in the tunnelling excavations is caught on camera by a number of photographers and film cameramen. Workers driving north meet their counterparts tunnelling south. Shaking hands one supervisor hands another a bottle of whisky in celebration. General views show workers celebrating.

Other civil engineering works affect a number of well-known Newcastle landmarks. The Angel of Mercy statue at Haymarket is temporarily removed to allow work to commence on the new station. The statue flies through the air as it is removed by crane. The following shot shows the statue back in situ next to the new Haymarket Metro station. 

The Victorian portico at the Central station has some reconstruction work done and its foundations strengthened as the new underground station is being built. A shot from one of the Central Station Metro entrances nearby, shows the cleaned masonry of the portico

A vertical panning shot from the top of Grey’s Monument to its base, shows the extensive works being carried out underneath the monument. General views show other works being carried out nearby. The film cuts to passengers climbing the steps out of the completed station next to Grey’s monument. 

A graphic representation shows the position of the station and train tunnels, beneath the monument. General views follow of pedestrians crowding the pavements as they make their way through the city.

A long shot shows the new Queen Elizabeth II bridge under construction across the River Tyne for the Metro. General views show work on the bridge, which has no supporting piers in the river itself, so as not to interfere with river navigation. With a longer span than the Tyne bridge it is one of the longest of its type in Britain, described as a double track, steel truss girder bridge, and is named the Queen Elizabeth the Second bridge.

A high angle panning shot shows the area of the city under which the next phase of the Metro will be built, the east-west line and will cross the Ouseburn valley through to Byker. General views of the Byker Wall and the Metro line works nearby showing the ‘cut and cover’ tunnel building method. A high angle shot shows the extent of the site.

The elegant Byker Viaduct is under construction, a spectacular view shows cranes and scaffolding on the bridge, the first of its type to be built in the UK.

A closer view shows a concrete section being ‘offered up’ by crane to one of the vertical sections. A high angle long shot shows the snaking route of the line, as it makes its way around buildings.

Film cuts to one of the older stations, where modernisation work is bringing facilities up to date. Others are rebuilt completely as new Metro halts as views follow of the new Hebburn station. As well as underground stations some new over ground stations are introduced, such as the halt at Bank Foot. General views follow of the halt from a number of angles. Ilford Road, another new station, fits into a mature urban setting.

Interchange stations also have to deal with bus traffic. An exterior shot is followed by men working on one of the passenger escalators.  Cut to men installing a panel which will complete the Haymarket name on a platform wall. Cut to a shot of the modular lighting system used to illuminate station concourses. General views of stations then cut to a central control room where closed circuit TV’s monitor the activity in the mostly unmanned stations.

The film cuts to new rails being man handled into place along a section of new underground track. General views show track replacement and the laying of new track. Underground a tunnel is fitted out with continuous welded track. A low angle general view looks upwards along the Byker Viaduct, followed by the Queen Elizabeth II bridge as the commentary describes that special rail joints that are fitted on the bridge to allow for the structures own expansion and contraction. General views follow of Wansbeck Road station as a goods train goes through. General views follow of other trains which share some of the Metro’s track. A general view follows of the concourse at Newcastle Central station, panning right to show the entrance to the Metro from the concourse. General views follow of the route being built on the south of the Tyne, some of which follows an old coal railway.

The film cuts to a designers drawing board where the final details are being painted on an illustration for a prototype Metro car.

The film cuts to a notice which reads ’Metro Test Centre’, this is followed by a fully built prototype being tested on a specially built track. The driver sits at the controls of the Metro car, followed by a shot looking forward along the track. Inside the car a group of passengers sit in the spacious interior of the new vehicle. The camera cuts to a shot of the car on the test track entering a tunnel.

Interior shots show the assembly workshop for the new Metro cars. General views show various stages of production. On the roof of one car an engineer assembles a pantograph, the mechanism which connects with overhead electricity wires. Film cuts to a Metro car running on test track to show pantograph in operation. A specially designed and equipped train shows workmen installing the overhead wires. General views show the difference in the deployment of overhead wires on open track, underground and in stations.

An animated map show how electricity is distributed across the system. The film cuts to an electricity substation at South Gosforth. Cut back to the animated map which shows the area the substation serves. Film cuts to one of the first substations built to serve the new Metro system in 1980. A general view follows of a Metro train as it makes its way along the track. The film cuts to a man working at the desk of the system control centre which controls power to the system. An exterior shot shows the building from which the whole Metro system is controlled. The station controller monitors closed circuit TV pictures of all underground stations and interchanges. He is also able to make announcements to every station using a public address system available at his console.

The film cuts to a large computer which controls escalators, barriers and other items of station equipment. A monitor displays the source of any fault that should occur.

Another view shows the huge green coloured control layout of the whole Metro system in the signalling room. A system controller telephones a colleague as he supervises traffic around the Metro system. Most of the signalling is done by computer with the aid of the Metro car driver. The following sequence explains how the driver communicates his route to the main computer. General views follow of Metro cars on route across the network. Structures laid between the track transmit information about individual trains back to the main computer. Views follow of points on the track and signals, all controlled by computer. A panning shot in the signalling room shows how the location and status of each train is made known to operating staff on the huge display board. Close ups follow of the location displays for Jesmond and Haymarket.

General views follow of the sheds used to house the Metro cars, the film then cuts to a formal training session for staff. A close up shows a copy of the ‘Metro Rule book’ on a desk.

Schools also get information about the Metro. In a classroom a member of Metro staff explains to pupils what the Metro is and also the dangers that they will face if they choose to play on the track or cross it at an undesignated point. A number of posters are shown warning children about the dangers of playing on the Metro system.

The film cuts to the official opening of the first Metro line from Haymarket to Tynemouth on the 7th August 1980. A Metro train cross a tape at a Metro Station, two ladies at the front of the train wave to the camera. A close up follows of the commemorative plaque, which shows that Mrs Scott-Batey the widow of the former chairman of the Tyne & Wear transport committee formally opened this first section. A night shot shows a Metro train pulling up at a station platform as the waiting passengers applaud. The passengers get on the train. General views follow of a train rounding a curve, the Haymarket station concourse, and a Metro train travelling across a level crossing, a passenger buying a ticket from a machine, and a panning shot from left to right as a Metro train goes past followed by a shot at sunset of a Metro train crossing the Queen Elizabeth II bridge. More general views of station facilities and trains services follow.

The film cuts to an exterior view of Haymarket station, taken from the grounds of St Thomas’s church opposite.

General views follow showing services available at interchanges, such as car parks, travel information centres and retail kiosks. A high angle shot shows a bus station next to a Metro station.

The film cuts to an office where a man and woman are in discussion over bus routes while looking closely over maps and plans. They are working out the best ways of integrating bus and Metro timetables.

Passengers are seen buying and using ‘Transfare’ tickets that are valid on both buses and Metro trains. Travel cards also allow integrated use of bus and Metros. A bus deposits passengers at a Metro station.

Ramps are included in station design to allow access for the disabled. Lifts and escalators have controls at wheelchair height to assist the disabled. Also entry and exit barriers have extra wide passages to allow access for prams, buggies or wheelchairs and the film shows examples of them.

General views follow of more stations and services opening as more of the system is completed.

The film cuts to the Queen arriving at Monument station by car, to formally open the link between Newcastle and Gateshead. It marks the start of the service south of the river.

A shot shows a barrier opening on the Queen Elizabeth II bridge. A Metro train crosses bearing a placard on the front which reads: ‘The Opening of the Tyne and Wear Metro System and the sixth Tyne Bridge by Her Majesty the Queen, 6th November 1981’

The Queen makes a speech as she formally opens the system.

The film cuts to a stylised map of the system as the commentary explains that the last section to be finished was the east – west section between Tynemouth and St James. A high angle shot shows a new station development.

The final section south of the Tyne between Heworth and South Shields was completed in 1983, the centenary year of South Shields public transport system.

A Metro train pulls up at South Shields Metro station, a placard on the front reads: ‘The opening of the Heworth to South Shields section of Metro and the completion of the initial system’.

A placard is revealed in the station which is dated Friday 23rd March 1984. General views follow of Metro trains in action, including a travelling shot across the Byker Viaduct and the Queen Elizabeth II bridge.

Title: A Production for Tyne and Wear Transport Executive

End Credit: By Turners Film & Video Productions, Newcastle upon Tyne

End Credit: Narrator: John Woodvine

End Credit: We would like to thank the following for their assistance: 

Amber Film Workshop,

Balfour Kilpatrick Ltd, BBC North-East, British Rail, John Huntley, Metro-Cammell Ltd, Newcastle upon Tyne City Libraries, North of England Open-Air Museum, Beamish, and the people of Tyne & Wear

Title: Tyne and Wear Transport – Metro – Tyne & Wear County Council, Tyne & Wear Transport Executive