Northern Ireland Steam Dvd: The Final Years


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In 1954, Frank Dean, a young signal engineer in the North Eastern Region of British Railways, was instructed to take part in the production of a training film being made by a British Transport film crew, which inspired a life-long interest in filming.

His later rise to the higher levels in British Railways allowed him not only access to locations barred to the public, but also prior knowledge of closures.

This enabled him to record routes and stations before they vanished forever.

Between 1966 and 1970, more than four million tons of stone was transported by rail from Magheramorne, near Larne, to Belfast for use in the construction of the M2 motorway.

This immense undertaking was carried out by daily steam-operated workings, which consisted of specially-constructed side-discharge hopper wagons, powered by 2-6-4 tank locomotives operating in pairs.

Popularly known as ‘Jeeps,’ the locomotives dated from the late 1940s and were designed and built at the LMS’s Derby Works – although assembled in Belfast.

On the 20-mile broad-gauge line between Larne and Belfast, the locos operated an intensive six-days-per-week service and, over the four-year period of the M2 project, powered more than 7,500 spoil trains!

These workings marked not only the last commercial use of steam traction in Northern Ireland but also the last example of revenue-earning broad-gauge steam operation in Great Britain.

The ‘Jeep’-powered spoil trains are shown along the whole of the route from Magheramorne and these workings are the primary focus of the programme.

Other parts of the Northern Ireland rail network also feature, including Belfast’s York Road Station, with Beyer-Peacock built 0-6-4T ‘Lough Erne’ acting as station pilot, together with views of the line to Londonderry.

Also included is the 1970 ‘Colmcille Railtour’, headed by ex-GNR 4-4-0 No. 171 ‘Slieve Gullion’ and filmed at several locations including Ballykelly Airfield, Coleraine and Londonderry.

The Archive Series of railway videos features the United Kingdom’s rail network from the 1920s to the 1980s with the primary emphasis on the steam era, although contemporary film of early diesel classes is often included where this compliments the theme of the programme.

Approx. 54 mins.

Region 0/Region free. NTSC versions are available on request.

This dvd is being sold on behalf and with full permission of the copyright holder – Cinerail 2002.