Border Counties Railway DVD

Footage of the late Jack Wheldon
Border Counties Railway DVD
Border Counties Railway
John Wheldon
10 Jubilee Rd.
Worksop, Notts. S80 4PL
Price: £12, postpaid anywhere in the world
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Jack Wheldon is a giant in the annals of garden-railway history. His Border Counties Railway was well known in Britain in the late 1970s and 1980s. Jack wrote extensively for the British press, and even for Garden Railways, particularly on the subject of live-steam locomotives, their design, construction, and use in the garden.

This DVD is a short program put together by John Wheldon, Jack's son. It is in three sections. The first is a video section that runs for around 11 minutes. It was assembled from VHS tape shot in 1986-87, so the quality is not everything that we would expect today. However, that contributes to the nostalgic character of the footage. This segment includes scenes of Jack running his various steam creations on his bucolic Border Counties Railway. I particularly enjoyed the scenes shot with the camera mounted on a car, either behind or ahead of the locomotive while traveling around the railway. These really gave a sense of this extensive line.

There is no narrative. The sound is either well-edited background music or the natural sounds emanating from the railway and its trains. I found this to be perfectly acceptable-in fact, possibly even preferable to an over-dubbed voice. In all, the film footage of the railway is delightful.

The second section of the DVD is a slide show of still shots, in black-and-white and color, of trains and locomotives photographed by Jack on his railway. These include not only his own scratchbuilt engines, but engines sent to him by various manufacturers for as samples for review in the British garden-railway press. It is interesting to see, through these photographs, what was new and exciting a quarter century ago. Again, there is no other information offered about each picture which, in this case, would actually have been an added bonus.

Jack Wheldon was also an artist. The final segment of the video is a gallery of his artwork, much of which has a garden-railway theme. Included are watercolors and charming scratch-board drawings. Jack even designed a box label from Archangel Models, a builder of live-steam locomotives. Also included are illustrations for a children's book about a garden railway, written by Dave Rowlands but never published, alas.

Whether you are a student of vintage steam, a garden-railway historian, or would just enjoy a nostalgic ramble through a classic English garden railway, this DVD, which offers some insight into a remarkable man and his work, is highly recommended.


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