Electro-mechanical lever frame at London Waterloo.
Frame from BTF’s Terminus

In his youth Dyspozytor revived his school railway society. Activities included study visits to such places as Ford’s of Dagenham just before the works railway withdrew its steam engines – here he first drove a steam locomotive – and the Bowater’s railway – shortly before the paper mill abandoned rail haulage.

The most popular activity was the regular screening of films from the British Transport Films library. Films could borrowed by schools at no charge. Though the film shows were nearly fifty years ago a number of great films still stand out through the memories of classroom and chalk dust: John Schlesinger’s Terminus, with its attention to detail and short story vignettes; Geoffrey Jones’s Snow, brilliantly cut in time to an avant garde musical score; and Harry Watt and Basil Wright’s onomatopoeic Night Mail.

Today, many of these films can be seen as blurred fragments on You Tube, or you can – thanks to a Guardian readers’ offer – buy the entire 125 film BTF library for £75, which works out at 60p per film!


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