Elizabethan Express

1954

Documentary

5
IMDb Rating 7.5/10 10 79 79

Plot summary

Originally intended as an advertising short, this film follows The Elizabethan, a non-stop British Railways service from London to Edinburgh along the East Coast Main Line. A nostalgic record of the halcyon years of steam on British Railways and the ex-LNER Class A4.


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May 30, 2024 at 12:15 AM

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720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
186.28 MB
1280*960
English 2.0
NR
24 fps
12 hr 20 min
Seeds 16
345.8 MB
1440*1080
English 2.0
NR
24 fps
12 hr 20 min
Seeds 56

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by boblipton 6 / 10

A Heroic Epic

No, it's not a newspaper published by Sir Walter Raleigh. It's the non-stop train from King's Cross in London to Waverly in Edinburgh, with food, drink, cigars and even poetry, all in six and a half hours, or twenty minutes on the movie screen.

When I refer to poetry, I'm not jesting; the narration is written in a variety of poetic forms, including limericks.

In the United States, this would have been an industrial film, meant to advertise and inform an audience, particularly for a small group of specialists. Here it's an advertising effort, pure and simple, meant to extol the train, its reliability, its luxury, and the fact that it will get you where you're going, and on time.

Reviewed by lestermay 8 / 10

Buy a ticket on the London to Edinburgh summertime express

This film is one of the gems among the many short documentary films made by the British Transport Commission in the post-war years until about 1980.

Just 20 minutes long, this classic short is available on the BFI's "On and Off the Rails" (The British Transport Films Collection - Volume One), a two-DVD set that contains fourteen short films.

We join the "Silver Fox", one of Sir Nigel Gresley's great A4 streamlined locomotives, running the 0930 summertime service called the "Elizabethan Express", from London's King's Cross station to Edinburgh's Waverley station, where it arrives on time at 1600. At the time, this was the longest non-stop railway journey in the world to be timed at over 60 mph.

This black and white film is beautifully shot and captures the glamour, speed and excitement of railway travel in the early 1950s. The men who make this happen - the drivers, the guard, the cooks and stewards - are the focus of this film, along with staff along the line, staff who are 'off the rails'.

The film's unusual rhyming commentary was controversial at the time but works well enough, and even raises a smile here and there. Popular in cinemas when released in 1954, this film is one of the best-known railway films.

There is some footage of Durham Cathedral and of crossing the River Tyne at Newcastle, but most of the film stays 'on the rails' from start to journey's end.

This is time travel for real and it's not just for railway enthusiasts. It's now history and will be of interest also to those who want to understand how their ancestors lived. See the film and travel to the recent past!

Reviewed by alan-trevennor 8 / 10

Michael Palin was right.

So, Michael Palin was right. In his 1979 "Great Railway Journeys' of the World" trip for the BBC from London to Scotland, he said that the start of a long railway journey was one of the great moments in life.

In this film "The Elizabethan" we share that feeling as the prestigious express train makes ready to leave from the famed platform 10 at London's Kings Cross station, as it did every morning at 9.30 for its headlong journey to Edinburgh. The sense of anticipation and excitement of the train departing is still palpable, more than 50 years later (and in black and white!) as the huge wheels of the A4 Pacific start to roll, then we get the low level track side shot of the train heading out of Kings Cross. Classic stuff! The film is an excellent look at how these great British express trains were run, and the kind of people and places they served. Of course, it's still happening: The GNER (Great North Eastern Railway) trains of today still do this trip many times each day, and dare I say that they do it even faster than the steamers used to do it, but rather more effortlessly and not so photogenically.

The A4 engines in this film are visibly trying very hard, with steam and smoke gushing from every vent and we even see the fireman shovelling coal heroically to keep the beast moving. We see the engine picking up water at speed from the between-the-rails troughs, and spray goes everywhere: You can't get all that visual eye candy from someone opening up the throttle of an electric - even though the result is a faster journey.

The narrator is Alan Wheatley who played the Sheriff of Nottingham in the 1950s TV Robin Hood Series (in which Richard Greene played the title role). I knew I had heard that voice somewhere before and I finally figured it out.

I was one year old when this film was made - but I think it's great. From the opening 1954 overview of Kings Cross station concourse (shortly to be viewed in colour in the 1955 Ealing comedy film "The Lady Killers") through the shots of stations along the way, and to the majesty that is Edinburgh, it's a pleasure that even the occasionally "ouch" rhyming of the narration cannot wholly diminish.

Track it down and see it. One of the great moment of life for all railway holics.

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