The Railwaymen (1946)

This government–sponsored film promoted recruitment to the postwar railways, at a time when young boys still dreamed of driving a train.

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Film details

  • Country

    United Kingdom

  • Year

    1946

  • Genre

    Industry sponsored film

  • Type

    Film

  • Category

    Non Fiction

Alternative titles

  • The Railway Men Alternative

Introduction

The Railwaymen shows the public information film moving onto a peacetime footing, and is one of the first films to bear the name of the Central Office of Information. The COI would go on to sponsor thousands of films, long and short, over the next 65 years.

Made by the government’s Crown Film Unit, which had turned out brilliant propaganda during the war, The Railwaymen isn’t one of the unit’s best films. But it is enjoyable and interesting, and one of a significant series encouraging recruitment to various industries in the postwar reconstruction effort.

Dieselisation of rail was still several years off: coal–fired steam remained the order of the day. The filmmakers are mindful of steam engines’ appeal to boys of all ages, showing a young trainspotter and citing the ‘romance’ of railways. This balances an emphasis on railway employment as ‘hard but steady work’, offering a job for life in an industry going places – steadily mechanising and improving working conditions. The filmmakers alternate factual sequences, over which a no–nonsense commentary is spoken, with more atmospheric ‘silent film’ scenes, allowing a modicum of romantic poetry to slip through the textbook prose.

Cast & Credits

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