THE STORY of Coventry and Warwickshire’s railway heritage has been preserved in the release of a new feature film.
Railway historian Colin Maggs has added to his ‘Branch Lines’ series of films, this time focusing on the heart of England in ‘Branch Lines of Warwickshire.’
In a double DVD, Colin starts the history of the county’s rural railways in the early 1800s, with the race between dozens of companies to build the lines that would eventually become part of Great Western Railways and London, Midland and Scottish.
Colin explains why branch lines were built across Warwickshire, providing comparisons with rare historic photographs, he visits the scenes as they are today.
From the once heaving industrial powerhouses of Birmingham and Coventry, Colin goes to remote rural railway stations, visiting listed Victorian buildings, stunning viaducts, and a line which was crossed by the longest canal aqueduct in England.
There is a comprehensive feature on the history of railways in the area around Stratford-upon-Avon, which is enhanced by a visit to the town’s railway museum.
The film is based on a book of the same title, written by Colin Maggs. He has written more than 100 books on various railway subjects, joining filming company 1st Take to produce nine Branch Line titles.
In the feature, Mr Maggs also takes a ride on the Shakespeare Express, a steamhauled train which runs in each direction from Birmingham Snow Hill to Stratford, on a line which may well have been lost forever, but for a defiant campaign to save it, he says.
The 160-minute film is packed with interviews, fascinating location film, maps and excerpts of colour archive footage.
Producer Dave Rogers said: “Having covered every county in the south west of England, it was very interesting to venture north and experience the Railway history of the heart of England. Although the area is known for big cities such as Birmingham and Coventry, I was pleasantly surprised by the peaceful, rural locations there were to visit – and of course many of these were once served by long lost branch lines”.
Colin first visited the area back in 1936. The railway network in the region is now showing real growth as passenger numbers in the region soar, he says.
The DVD is available via www.1st-take.com.