The Railway Children

This film is one of my early memories of the cinema.  In the 60s and 70s you could go to the cinema in the afternoon to watch a programme that consisted of short films, adverts and trailers as well as the main feature.  If you stayed in your seat, you could watch the main film through again.  I did this with ‘The Railway Children’ in 1970.

The film remains one of my favourites.  Directed by Lionel Jeffries, who was himself a famous actor from British films of the 50s and 60s, the film tells the story of three children who have to move from their comfortable and affluent life in London to rural Yorkshire, where the railway features in their lives for the first time, after their father is imprisoned.

Based on the book by Edith Nesbitt, the story is a wonderful evocation of Edwardian England, or at least of a somewhat idyllic version of it where the community is strong and the children of a prisoner are not treated badly!  Dinah Sheridan played the mother and the wonderful Bernard Cribbins played the railway porter, Mr Perks.  I remember the role of Peter, played by Gary Warren, as this was the part I identified with being of a similar age at the time.  I always thought I the Edwardian costumes for boys would look good on me but I never got to wear a sailor suit.

There have been other adaptations of the novel, chiefly on television, but the film stands as the version which comes to mind whenever the title is mentioned and it is hard to think of better actors for the roles than Jenny Agutter as Bobbie, Sally Thomsett as Phyllis and Gary Warren as Peter.

The scene on the railway station towards the end of the film has to be the most moving scene in cinema history.

‘The Railway Children’ is in my hinterland.  What’s in yours?


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