The complete BBC series incorporating six individual episodes.
Program One: Wind Water And Steam
Fred starts his journey at the old Bolton, Bury and Manchester Canal where he first discovered his passion for industrial history. As a young boy, he would walk along the towpath, passing cotton mills and old coal mines. Fred fondly retraces his childhood steps before showing viewers some of the many preservation projects he has been working on over the years: a steam-powered pottery in Cumbria, a mill chimney in Lancashire and a steam engine in North Wales.
Program Two: Mill And Factories
In Burnley, he visits Queen Street Mill where the original steam engine still powers the looms in a huge weaving shed. He meets a woman called Evelyn who has worked in the mill all her life and fondly remembers the camaraderie amongst the weavers. For more about the Queen Street Mill and other spinning and weaving heritage spots see The North West Textile Trail, or see the Amazing Animated Spinning Mill!
Program Three: Iron And Steel
Fred traces the development of the production of iron and steel and begins his journey at Ironbridge Gorge in Shropshire, the cradle of the industrial revolution. It was here that Abraham Darby first smelted iron with coke and thus started a dynasty of iron founders in the gorge who were to change the entire face of industry. Fred visits Abraham Darby’s original furnace and rides on a replica of the first steam railway locomotive which was built at Ironbridge in 1803. To see a blast furnace in action see Fred Amazing animated machines!
Until the 1960s, mining was a major industry around Bolton and Fred recollects how his auntie always believed that there was a coal mine under her house. Fred talks about the working conditions down the mines and the camaraderie between the miners that came from working in this hostile and dangerous environment.
At the National Coal Mining Museum for England, near Wakefield, Fred descends to the coal face to see how the machinery the miners used developed over the years. At Big Pit, in South Wales, Fred rides on top of the pit cage to carry out a shaft inspection and in Scotland he is welcomed to the Lady Victoria Colliery by a pipe band. See the Amazing Animated Winding Gear for a look at how the deep mines worked!
Program Five: Railways
Fred recollects his early excitement for steam locomotives as they roared past his bedroom window at night, the driver’s face lit only by the engine’s firebox. Fred’s enthusiasm has never burnt out and in this programme he traces the development of the railway locomotive from Richard Trevithick’s first locomotive to the world record-breaking Mallard.
Fred visits the North East which is rich in railway history. At Bowes Railway near Gateshead he sees one of George Stephenson’s early engineering projects, where a stationary engine pulled coal wagons up a hill with a rope. But at Darlington Railway Museum he admires Stephenson’s most famous engineering achievement, the original “Locomotion No.1″, which was the first locomotive to run along the Stockton and Darlington Railway.
Program Six: Ships And Shipbuilding
Fred examines the skill of the shipbuilders and machine engineers who turned Britain into a great manufacturing nation. In Bristol, Fred visits the SS Great Britain, the first ocean going ship to be constructed by iron and driven by steam, and pays tribute to the designer, Fred’s hero, Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
The SS Great Britain won’t be going to sea again so Fred goes in search of a working steamship. He travels to Scotland to take a voyage along the west coast on the paddle steamer Waverley. Back in England he visits the Windermere Steamboat Museum and sails across the lake in the Steam Launch Swallow. See Fred’s animated Paddle Steamer and build-it game to find out how it all worked!
The DVD also includes additional information covering the 200 locations featured in the programmes.
Region: Region 2
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Beckmann Visual Publishing
DVD Release Date: 1 Mar 2004
Run Time: 150 minutes