Rolling Along

1949 , Southend-on-Sea (Essex)

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The opening of the new pier railway at Southend-on-Sea.

The film opens with shots of the old coaches travelling along the Pier. There are fishing boats moored on the sea. Some shots are taken from these coaches. These look out to sea and we see it pass another engine. There are also people walking along the pier. The scene alternates between the workshops of A.C. Cars of Thames Ditton, Surrey, and the pier. At the factory engineering workers are engaged in building the wooden frames of the new carriages and in constructing the electric cables. Later the coaches are polished the ready for dispatch. On the pier, men are working on the track and painting the pier ready for the opening. Preparation for the change over includes laying extra track out onto the promenade to enable the new coaches to be delivered. These new coaches are loaded onto a low loader and hitched to a lorry. The film follows their journey, over the river and along the roads to Southend where it finishes on the promenade, by the pier entrance. The complicated process of manoeuvring the carriage off the low loader and onto the rails to be hauled onto the pier is covered at some length. This is itself a tourist attraction and the crowds have turned out to watch. The work goes on into the night. Eventually the carriage is onto the rails and pulled by a team of men onto the pier. A second follows. In daylight again the testing of the coaches begins. The train has a test run and then doors and windows are checked to be in working order. In the cab, the driver is filmed familiarising himself with the new controls. The arrival of the Lord Mayor of London to the Borough of Southend. His party is met at the Borough boundary and continues into Southend. The motorcade halts at a substantial house and the parties alight. There are shots of the chauffeurs standing around waiting. In Southend, the crowds gather along the streets and at the pier. There are some policemen filmed, including a mounted policeman. The procession approaches the pier on foot and the dignitaries mount a dais. The principals offer speeches and there are shots of the crowd. A long shot of the pier. There is a shot of the old train, full of cheering people, pulling into the 'station'. The Lord Mayor poses for the camera, enters, the new train and drives the train through the ribbon. The final scene is of the crowds queuing for tickets and then flooding onto the pier, open again.

Featured Buildings

Southend Pier; A.C. Cars factory, Thames Ditton

Featured Events

The opening of the new Pier Railway, Southend-0n-Sea

Keywords

Opening ceremonies; Piers; Railways

Intertitles

It is a far cry from today to the Southend Pier first constructed of wood in June 1829. Sixty years were to elapse before it was reconstructed in iron to take the first electric railway, and not until 1931 was the track doubled and improved. During the Second World War the pier staff did magnificent service. Despite all hazards these trains were kept running carrying over 1,500,000 service men and women, stores and equipment. And at no time did this vital link between shore, the Navy and waiting convoys fail. At the finish of hostilities it was obvious to the corporation that new rolling stock was imperative. Sanction was obtained from the Ministry of Transport, and in due course A.C. Cars were ordered to proceed and new and modern cars began to take shape.Track improvement was only one of many necessary improvements.From now on it was a rush to be ready for the official opening.Painting.Meanwhile at the A.C. works. The change over was a major operation requiring additional track to the main road itself.March 6th 1949 and the first train is ready for delivery. Night and day the work continued.Testing.Maintenance. New controls to be mastered.New trains to be fully operational.And so after moths of skilful planning an informal meeting took place at the Borough boundary.Which brings us to the official welcome by his worship the Mayor of Southend, Alderman S.F. Johnston, J.P. to the Rt. Hon. The Lord Mayor (LT) of London, The Lord Broadbridge KCVO who so kindly consented to perform the opening ceremony. So off on the old and back on the new.Rolling Along.And so we say thank you to all those who helped to bring these new trains into being, and in particular to the Chairman of the Pier and Foreshore Committee Alderman A.H. White. Piermaster and Foreshore Manager, Capt. J.C. Johnson with especial mention to the Chief engineer Mr. E.C. Goble who drew up the specification of the trains and with the help of a devoted staff carried out this very difficult operation of replacing the old with the new.Southend Pier, 1 1/3 miles in length for all to enjoy. The End.

Other Places

Thames Ditton, Surrey

Background Information

The electric railway was opened on Southend Pier in 1890. In 1929, at the same time as the opening of the Prince George extension, the track was doubled and full signalling was used for the first time. The Pier was closed between September, 1939 and March, 1945. During the war the electric trams, or 'Toast Racks' as they became known, covered 300,000 miles ferrying service personnel and supplies along the railway. Some coaches were converted to carry stretchers. By the end of the war it was estimated that the 'Toast Racks' had carried 65 million passengers. The railway re-opened to the public in May, 1945.The first of the new trains arrived in March, 1949 and the inauguration took place on 13th April. That date also marked the first time the illuminations were switched on after the wartime blackout. The 'chunk chunk' noise of the new trains was unique and could be heard two miles away.Southend Pier had a long standing association with the Lord Mayor of London. In 1829, William Haygate, a former Lord Mayor, settled in Southend in a house called Porters. (This is now the official residence of the Mayor of Southend.) Haygate formed a company to build the original pier under Royal Terrace

Manifestations

Rolling Along

  • Barcode
    INV441984
    Canonical Identifier
    VP-1506
    Canonical Title
    Unknown
    Carrier Details
    Carrier Type
    16mm film
    Colour System
    bw
    Colour Type
    bw
    Dimension
    Duration
    0:11:06
    Has Image
    Y
    Has Sound
    N
    Identifier
    Image Polarity
    pos
    Modification Date
    26/05/2011
    Parts
    Reference
    713065
    Sound
    silent
  • Barcode
    INV362434
    Canonical Title
    Unknown
    Carrier Type
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    Dimension
    Duration
    0:18:05
    Modification Date
    10/05/2011
    Parts
    Reference
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  • Activities
    Barcode
    INV466274
    Canonical Title
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    Dimension
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    Modification Date
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    Parts
    Reference
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  • Activities
    Barcode
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    Canonical Identifier
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    Canonical Title
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    Carrier Type
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    Dimension
    Identifier
    Modification Date
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    Parts
    Reference
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  • Activities
    Barcode
    INV277306
    Canonical Identifier
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    Canonical Title
    Unknown
    Carrier Type
    Umatic tape
    Dimension
    Identifier
    Modification Date
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    Parts
    Reference
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  • Barcode
    INV218766
    Canonical Identifier
    VP-1034
    Canonical Title
    Unknown
    Identifier
    Modification Date
    25/06/2021
    Parts
    Reference
    562880
  • Activities
    Barcode
    INV484795
    Canonical Identifier
    A-793
    Canonical Title
    Unknown
    Carrier Details
    Carrier Type
    16mm film
    Colour Type
    bw
    Has Image
    Y
    Has Sound
    N
    Identifier
    Image Polarity
    negative
    Modification Date
    25/06/2021
    Parts
    Reference
    560748
    Sound
    silent

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