Fred Dibnah always had a passion for Steam Railways, Steam Rollers, Traction Engines, Pumping Engines, Mill Engines and Pithead Winding Engines. He spent a large part of his life restoring them and studying their construction and history. This six disk DVD box set brings together previously unseen footage shot for the BBC as Fred unearths the best of our steam and railway heritage and meets some of his fellow enthusiasts who devote their lives to finding, restoring, preserving and operating steam engines of all shapes and sizes.
THE RAILWAY COLLECTION
THE STORY OF BRITAIN’S RAILWAYS
From the earliest wooden wagon ways to the last great days of steam and the birth of the railway preservation movement, Fred gives us his own unique history of the railways in Britain.
GREAT LITTLE STEAM RAILWAYS
Fred recollects his boyhood passion for steam railways, takes us on a tour of some of his favourite preservation lines and tells us some of his own railway stories.
MADE IN BRITAIN: RAILWAY YARDS AND WORKSHOPS
The skills of building, maintaining and restoring steam locomotives are still alive at the workshops of some of Britain’s preserved railways, and Fred visited some of the biggest on his traction engine grand tour of Britain for the series “Made In Britain”.
THE STEAM COLLECTION
THE STORY OF THE TRACTION ENGINE
Looks at the early steam carriages, the development of the traction engine, road locomotives, steamrollers, showman’s engines, steam lorries and preservation. Fred explains the history of the early steam-powered vehicles, from the development of the first traction engines to the great steam engines of the Twentieth Century.
Cornish engineer and inventor Richard Trevithick built an elegant and light steam carriage back in 1803 and Fred also comes face to face with a Puffing Devil from 1801. From wrecks to restored magnificence, Fred sees them all and meets the men who share his enthusiasm.
Taking in some of Britain’s major traction engine collections, Fred brings the history of the machines that helped shape Britain to life in his own inimitable style. Visiting the Long Shop Museum in Suffolk, he finds that Garrett’s Suffolk Punch isn’t quite what it seems and at The Thursford Collection, in Norfolk, we learn about George Cushing, who collected 45 of these engines.
The first steamroller was built by Thomas Aveling in 1867 but by the time that was superseded by the faster Wallis & Steevens Advanced steamrollers, petrol and diesel engines were taking over. During the First World War, traction engine wheels were used to move the big guns. Traction engines also generated the power for the Bioscope, an early form of cinema, and steam was also introduced into fairgrounds in the 1870s.
BRITAIN’S BIGGEST ENGINES
Mill engines, pit winding engines and pumping engines are covered seeing Fred visiting the 1907 state-of-the-art Trencherfield Mill at Wigan Pier — built by William Woods on the site of two earlier mills — that now houses one of the biggest surviving mill steam engines in the world.
He also visits Astley Green colliery, where enthusiasts have worked for twenty years on a large steam engine that once turned the huge wheel of the colliery. And then comes the very ornate Papplewick pumping station, built in 1884 to serve Nottingham.
ON THE ROAD WITH FRED
Follows Fred’s ‘grand tour’ of British steam history as he sets off with his friend Alf Molyneux around Cumbria, the Scottish borders, the North East and Yorkshire — in his own steam traction engine that he took 27 years restoring — and stops off at the famous Teesside landmark, the Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge.
Built in 1911, the Transporter Bridge is capable of carrying 600 people at a time. You walk (or drive) into a cradle suspended beneath the main span of the bridge — 160ft above the river Tees. This cradle then carries its cargo of cars and pedestrians across the river in less than three minutes.
Following a couple of setbacks and near-disasters, Fred is finally out on the road, driving through the lovely countryside of the North and meeting fellow enthusiasts. Fred is fascinating to listen to and his enthusiasm is infectious as he shares his experiences of the excitement and difficulties of owning a steam engine in Fred Dibnah’s Steam Collection.
Taken from the Made In Britain television series, this specially edited version shows the first half of Fred’s incredible journey in full, including footage not previously seen on television.
Region: Region 2
Number of discs: 6
Studio: Acorn Media
DVD Release Date: 1 June 2009
Run Time: 876 minutes