Film ID:
NEFA 10863



Visitor Tabs


An early Tyne Tees Television documentary on railway workers at the Darlington locomotive shed in North Road, commissioned by Tyne Tees Television, with music and songs by folk musicians Ewan McColl and Peggy Seeger. Influenced by the acclaimed radio series The Radio Ballads, this is a portrait of the last days of steam haulage and the progress to diesel and electric trains. The North Road works closed in 1965, a victim of the Beeching axe, with the loss of 2,150 jobs.

The report opens with a travelling shot from the front of a train as it pulls into Darlington Railway Station.

Title: Tyne Tees Television Presents [over picture]

Title: The Way We Live [over picture]

A steam train pulls up to the track end on platform 2 at Darlington Railway Station where a replica of George Stephenson’s first railway locomotive, the Locomotion, stands. The film cuts to shots of a stationary steam engines on exterior tracks. A steam engine is re-positioned on a rotating table. There are overhead shots above tracks where steam hauled goods trains pass below, cooling towers in the background. Railway workers work beside the tracks, one directing the train into a shunting yard. A driver looks out of Engine 43079 as it reverses. Another driver steps down from Engine 62064. He arrives home on his bike as his son leaves for school. A goods train pulled by Engine 43079 is ready to leave, back at the station.

Railway workers clock in at the North Road workshops at the start of a day shift. Two workers wearing berets, "old man Lowther and his son, who builds diesels in the shop across the way", don overalls. There are interiors of the engine shed with men at work, wheels lifted and moved by an overhead crane, shots of welding, fixing wheels onto a carriage and other activities. Steam engines are hoisted up for maintenance work. There is an overhead shot of the rows of engines in the large scale workshops. An engine is lowered over a track and pit. As a man walks the length of the workshop carrying a steam pipe, a tracking shot follows him along a central track through the warehouse, workers watching from units alongside the track and a group of workers awaiting at the end.

The scene cuts to a traveling shot from the front of a train through the countryside. A maintenance crew work on the tracks. One man measures the track width and marks with chalk. They check the level of the rails, test keys and chairs (rail fastenings that fix rails to railroad sleepers). There are portrait shots of the men’s faces as they work. A crew then moves along a track on a small flat-bed car flying a flag. Traveling shot towards a level crossing and signal box, the gates closing as a train approaches. Inside the signal box a man operates a lever. The crew’s vehicle passes through the level crossing. This sequence is filmed at Catterick Bridge station near Brompton-on-Swale. Brief traveling shot from a train as it crosses a bridge over a river, and an interior shot of the driver in the cabin. Further shots of the maintenance crew beside the tracks in a foggy landscape follow. A diesel passenger train (Diesel Multiple Unit) passes close by. A driver climbs out of Engine 62064.

In the following scenes, work at the North Road workshops and Darlington Station continues as another shift enjoys their leisure time.

There are shots of leisure activities with one of the workers, tending chrysanthemums, woodwork in the garage or shed with a wife assisting, and asleep in bed.

A train headed by an A4 class engine speeds past the camera outside Darlington Station (?) Back at North Road engineering works, a rail worker is re-positioning an engine on a rotating table inside the works, and moving Engine 43079 on a rotating track outside. Low angle shot from track as a train moves forward. A worker is woken by his wife at 5 o'clock. A steam engine enters the engineering works.

Workers clock off in the evening. Night and day shots record both steam and diesel trains arriving and leaving Darlington Station, with passengers exiting at the ticket barriers. A wife sets a table at home.  A moody shot records a steam engine traveling from Darlington at night.

Railway workers, families and friends drink and play dominoes inside a pub, beer is pulled by the landlord, male railway workers enjoy a beer and a laugh.  Men and women enjoy a game of dominoes in the pub. Two men attend a chrysanthemum flower show.  People are leaving the Majestic dance hall (or Bingo hall?) in Darlington.

Meanwhile, workers are leaving after the night shift at North Road engineering works. A wife welcomes her husband home; another worker hangs up his tools in the garage.  A man sits down to breakfast as his wife pours the tea. Men are walking to work in the dim morning light. A man stokes a wood burning stove at home.

Shots of the drivers and driver’s mate stoking the engine firebox with coal, alternate with views of steam trains and goods trains traveling at night, tracking shots from trains speeding past, and close-ups of wheels in motion.

Shots follow of a steam train passing a diesel train, followed by a steam train passing the terraced houses of colliery village, with a slag heap (?) in the background. A diesel train passes by a colliery in the background and then under a signal gantry. A travelling shot follows from a steam engine footplate as it passes by an oncoming diesel train. A profile shot of the steam engine driver. The train approaches Darlington Station slowly.

End Title: The Way We Live [over picture]

End Credit: Songs by Ewan MacCall & Peggy Seeger [over picture]

End Credit: Cameraman Wilf Grey [over picture]

End Credit: Edited By Bill Robertson [over picture]

End Credit: Written and Directed By Julia James [over picture]

End Credit: Produced By H K Lewenhak [ over picture]

End Credit: A Tyne Tees Television Production