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January 2019



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Level Crawsings, Glahstonbury and Goffers

Yet again I’m indebted to Liberal England for a link to a wonderful little transport film. In this one from 1963, Sir John Betjeman travels on the Somerset and Dorset Joint Line, narrating in his inimitable style, defending the usefulness of the old branch lines. I’ve travelled the old Great Western line more times than I can remember but never a mile on the Somerset and Dorset. I was rather disappointed that the film is entirely about Somerset, with Dorset only coming into it because the train has come from Sturminster Newton. When we first moved down here the trains were long gone but the station was still standing and you could walk along the old deserted tracks. Now that too has been swept away and the area turned into an industrial estate. The surrounding streets are known to conservation planners as ‘Railway Town’; I’ve never heard anyone call them that in real life.

Apart from Betjeman’s melancholy tones, the best thing about this film is the sound of the trains. You can almost smell the steam, while the birdsong at Pylle reminds one of Adlestrop. There aren’t many people about but just look at them enjoying the swinging sixties :-). They might have come out of one of Angela Thirkell’s novels, on the line from Waterloo to Skeynes, passing through Winter Overcotes and Worsted.

I can't make the embedded code work here, so you'll have to hop over to Liberal England to see the film.


Betjeman + railways = heaven on earth.
'Metroland, I'm in Metroland...'
Charming film which evokes such strong memories. My first job was with British Railways in 1966. I love the old crossing gates. My grandparents lived in Hampton and I loved standing by the gates and watching the trains come and go....those lovely old slam door carriages :)
Really? Gosh.

Yes, those leather straps for the windows. And the nets for luggage and the pictures of tourist destinations.

You *do* have the most beautifully appropriate icons.
I have an icon fetish and have thousands of them, mostly made by me :)