Film ID:
YFA 4755

ONCE UPON A RAILWAY

1987

Visitor Tabs

Description

This is a film made by Rowntree’s employee Ken Clough about the workings of the railway at the Rowntree Mackintosh factory in York.  It focuses on the use of the railway to transport raw materials and finished products.  The film shows the shunting of wagons around the factory yard and the last train to ever leave on 13th March, 1987, marking the cessation of freight traffic from the factory.

The film begins with some workmen cutting a section of railway track and removing it at Rowntree Mackintosh Station.  There is an overhead drawing of the Rowntree works in York before a goods train advances through the snow.  The train is pulled by a British Rail shunting engine.  Then a Rowntree Mackintosh shunting engine comes away from a set of wagons it has left on a shunting line.  The engine runs around, and the shunter hooks up the engine to the wagons using a shunting pole.  The level crossing within the factory grounds goes down and the train passes, with the shunter riding on the engine platform.  The railway foreman comes out of his hut to inspect the goods while another opens a door to one of the wagon to reveal the contents, crates of Smarties.  Two of the wagons are then propelled into a warehouse, where a warehouse worker moves boxes on an electric trolley.  There are some photographs of workers unloading boxes of various kinds from wagons in the warehouse from a period between the wars.

Back to the present, pallets are unloaded from a wagon, and there are other wagons stowed in the sidings, including a now defunct wagon.  Following this is some shunting, with the shunter pinning down brakes, riding on the engine steps, pulling points, coupling up and picking up two more wagons.  Three shunting engines, two green and one yellow, are stood by a shed, with some of the workers posing for the camera.  Then there is a photo of three diesel shunting engines from between the wars as well as some steam engines inside and outside the warehouse, again with some of the workers posing.  There are also photos of an engine on the back of a lorry in the factory yard, of track being laid, and scenes of the shunting yard in the snow.  These photographs are interspersed with footage from the present.  The shunting engine, filmed from the driver’s cab, travels light around the back of the factory, past the car park and onto a set of wagons, on which the silhouette of the cameraman can be seen.  These are then taken away, with film taken low down from the shunter’s platform on the engine.  The wagons are coupled onto another set of wagons, with the shunter struggling with the shunting pole.  Having left the empty wagons they pick up a train of full wagons.  

Back in the warehouse, railway wagons are being loaded with pallets.  These are then picked up and taken out pushing a set of stationary wagons out of the way in the process.  The wagons are then labelled.  Again two wagons are propelled through the factory yard.  The shunter puts the brake handle down on a moving set of wagons using his shunting pole.  They then back some wagons onto a brake van, again using his shunting pole to hook up the coupling.  As the train drives off the railway foreman, stood along with the shunter and the engine driver, holds a board up to the camera, having inscribed on it: ‘1895-1987. That is the last train.’  He turns the board over, which states, ‘The End.’  Finally the shunting engine returns to the engine shed, and the metal shutter is lowered.