Every so often in life, an absolute gem turns up! In this case is a DVD of a journey over the Scottish Highlands by train in the mid 1960s.
The DVD was filmed in an era when steam had all but disappeared on our railways. At this time many railway photographers had put away their cameras. They considered there was nothing worth recording. For many, the attraction of steam locomotives appears as popular as ever. Each successive generation finds the sights, sounds and smells of steam traction so evocative. Back in the 1960s, only a minority of railway enthusiasts wanted to photograph the so-called ‘alien’ and diesel electric locomotives. Even fewer were prepared to splash out on colour film to record this new form of traction.
Attention to detail
As well as liking steam locomotives, some of us love seeing first generation diesel locomotives in green livery hauling maroon coaches. We are very fortunate that the gentleman EW Yardley decided to film during an era when these were commonplace. This film expertly captures not only the trains but the people and station details. The historical script is informative and interesting and the soundtrack is astounding in my view.
The sound of Sulzer engines in the stunning Scottish countryside with no other sound present takes me straight back to the 1970’s. At that time I travelled on the overnight sleeper to Inverness and Fort William on many occasions. In those days on Mark 1 sleeper coaches I awoke in the morning with the train trotting along in the Highlands. I would often open the blind and window and lay back in my bunk bed listening to the steady sound of the type 2’s engine and gaze at the beautiful vista of the mountains and glens. We are told in the film that the late EW Yardley visited the Highlands many times capturing these now lost scenes.
Read more about my teenage railway adventures in the 1970s here
It doesn’t really matter if you are not a diesel loco enthusiast. The essence of his film so expertly put together is all about the journey. The combinations of shots from on train, line side and more distant views are so carefully crafted together. The narrative picks up details of stations en route as the train passes through. On occasions a stop is made on the journey to focus on shunting at a station or yard. There are also references where track rationalisation of the 1960’s was reversed because of an increase in rail traffic.
If you want to experience travelling on nostalgic coaches hauled by classic diesels in Scotland why not visit one of the railways featured, the Strathspey Railway at Aviemore or the Bo’ness Railway. I’d love to visit the Brechin Line – it’s on my list!
Kingfisher films originally produced this film in VHS format in the 1990’s and the script has references to this era. However, the DVD format became available in 2002. This is a rare treat of a film and is one of the best railway films I’ve ever seen – very very highly recommended.
Features and customer reviews
A nostalgic journey covering Perth to Inverness, Wick, Thurso and The Kyle of Lochalsh.
The DVD shows Type 2 diesels with an occasional ‘Black Five’.
Enjoy a rare interlude to Grantown-on-Spey and via Elgin and Forres back to Inverness.
Type 2 Sulzer diesels are now shown with an occasional glimpse of a Stanier Class ‘5’ working.
EW Yardley spends some time showing us some interesting train movements and architecture of the stations.
Altogether, a marvellous record of these lines before the advent of further station closures and reduction in classic highland infrastructure.
Running time 55 mins (approx)
Although there are only 3 customer reviews on Amazon, each reviewer scores the DVD top marks 5.0 out of 5.0
If you want to enjoy this DVD then it is well worth getting whilst there is still stock available.
Alastair Majury says
I have been lucky enough to be on the Strathspey Railway at Aviemore. Thanks for sharing this review. Regards, Alastair Majury
What is your involvement Alastair on the Strathspey Railway?
Alastair Majury says
Purely as a tourist and not as a volunteer, I live around 2 hours away so not close enough. But most summer holidays when I was younger I would take a trip on the railway. More recently enjoyed one their evening meal rides. Regards, Alastair Majury from Dunblane