All Change! Celebrating 150 Years of Rail Service

All Change! Celebrating 150 Years of Rail Service

Home to “Star Wars”, “Indiana Jones” and so much more iconic film and TV, Elstree & Borehamwood has been a prime production site for over a century. But the studios would likely never have settled here but for an event in July 1868, when a station called “Elstree” opened on a new line from Bedford to St. Pancras. The start of this rail service was critical to the growth of the town and its film industry.

Over the past nine years, as the “First Impressions” initiative, the Town, Borough and County Councils have combined with train operator Thameslink and Elstree Screen Heritage to make the station and other public spaces more attractive and welcoming, using high-impact visuals from our unique film and television heritage.

Celebrating the 150th anniversary was our most ambitious challenge. With support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Museum created the “All Change!” exhibition, drawing on the Museum’s collection and the knowledge of its volunteers, with added help from local residents and the loan of artefacts from railway groups.  

Fittingly, film played a key role in the programme: we recorded interviews with rail staff, past and present, including a 95-year old retired steam engine driver.  Students from the Elstree University Technical College (EUTC) helped film and edit these interviews, as well as interviews with local residents sharing their memories of the railway and what it has meant to them.

The exhibition was promoted by a 7-minute trailer showing a local Mother, her daughters and their friends exploring the exhibition.  (https://vimeo.com/269192050)

The exhibition finished its run on 6th October after attracting record visitors and rave reviews, but it lives on! Using the latest film technology we recorded a virtual tour which you can visit online.

For details of this tour and other activities which were part of the celebration of the 150th anniversary (including displays of model railways, a sit-on train ride during the Civic Festival, a gala event in July and several guided walks along the “Rail Trail”) contact us.

 

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