Film ID: YFA 5624 Video of YFA_5624 Walton Street Xing 1963 WALTON ST. XING - NEW 1963 Visitor TabsDescription This film, made by the photographic unit of the NE Region of British Rail, shows new hydraulic gates being installed on the level crossing at the junction of Spring Bank West and Walton Street in Hull in December 1963. The film begins with traffic waiting at the Walton Street level crossing, with advertising hoardings behind. The crossing opens and we see the Walton Street signal box. More traffic goes over the crossing. Inside the signal box the signalman pulls off a couple of signal levers and winds a wheel to close the crossing. He then re-opens it. On the other side of the crossing again there is traffic, including a milk float, waiting in front of more advertising hoardings. There is an advert for Hovis and “Arnett’s Good Fresh Food.” The crossing opens and the traffic moves off. The traffic light signals are shown changing in close up. There is a notice stating that Spring Bank West will be closed to road traffic at Walton Street railway crossing from Saturday 30th November to 1st December. The new crossing gates have been installed. Just a single gate on each side with wheels on each has replaced the old double ones. There is a close up of the hydraulic mechanism. These are shown in operation, and traffic, including many cyclists and motorcyclists, passing over them with Spring Bank West cemetery in the background. Automatic gates for pedestrians are in operation, and the film comes to an end. Context A time when milk floats were commonly seen on our roads, along with Ariel motorcycles, helmets with leather ear coverings and the local corner shop was advertised on a hoarding. At first glance this appears as a rather mundane film of a level crossing having its old style gates being replaced by more modern ones. But in reality it is a wonderful look at the kinds of traffic that occupied our roads in the early 1960s. As autumn gives way to winter, motorcycles and motorcycle riding gear typical of the time, and with advertising hoardings in the background, the film marvellously evokes the atmosphere of the time. The 1960s were a high point in the modernisation of the railways, when even the Tories, with 13 continuous years in power, kept it in public ownership. As part of this, swinging gates on level crossings were replaced with electronically operated boom gates, and soon after by automated half barriers. Here the wheel operated gates are replaced by hydraulic gates, which were quite rare, and, apparently, this was also the first UK installation of road traffic lights at a railway level crossing. Level crossings were often situated next to a signal box, and most of these have gone, including the one at Walton Street. But as level crossings account for 25% of all railroad fatalities, they too are being phased out.