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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 64 - Winter 1987 / 88

The Easy Line - Charles Minns

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Charles Minns - One of two views of Met A class tank No. 41 at Brill taken at the time The Easy Line was made.

The story behind a 9.5mm cine film of the Brill branch

One evening in 1986, whilst watching that box of magical home entertainment, some scenes came on about the restoration of old railway stock at Quainton Road Station, near Aylesbury. This brought to mind the time of my visit there with a friend over fifty years ago, in 1935. It also reminded me that I possessed a short 9.5mm cine film that we had made of the journey from Brill to Quainton Road, prior to its closure in 1935.

On realising that I had a film of great nostalgic interest, I contacted the Quainton Railway Society's Museum Curator, Alan Vessey. He and his colleagues were extremely pleased to hear of its existence and they gave great assistance in arranging for its transfer to VHS video, to ensure its preservation and future showing. It has been decided to combine the film into an extended version, showing the restoration work carried out at Quainton Road.

My friend, Alec Ghys, a few years older than I, was a very enterprising and talented chap, running a cycle sales and repair business. He also catered for 78rpm records and wireless parts (remember: in those days, we built our own receivers). For these he stocked HT and grid batteries - and supplied the service of charging accumulators. All this went on only a few doors away from where I lived in Walton Street, Chelsea.

Alec was assisted by his brother Eddie and, as amateur cine filming became popular, they expanded into selling Gaveart film - and set up a mail order service for developing this on the premises. This is where I became involved, by being a helping hand during my spare time.

Alec and I both had Pathe 9.5mm cameras and he also possessed a Pathe 200B projector. We both became very interested in this hobby and obtained great satisfaction from our productions. In 1935 I was 21 and worked in a retail stationers and newsagents in Chelsea. We both had half-days off on Thursdays and it must have been around September of that year that we read about this quaint railway due to close that December. In those days Alec was the proud possessor of an Essex car and so off we went on Thursday afternoon on our filming expedition. On arrival in the area, with the help of a 1" Survey map, we made a quick trip round the lanes to level crossings looking for the best positions for filming. It was decided that I should take shots from the engine footplate if possible and that Alec, being the only car driver, should hare off round the lanes to catch the train's progress from the trackside.

As far as I can remember, our production comprised shots from more than one journey- and, at the end of the day, we went back to Chelsea to develop the film, hoping that we had not made too many amateur mistakes and that exposures were OK. We could not afford light meters!

On seeing the results, we made joint decisions on editing and agreed on our titles. I produced most of the titles using silver ink on black cardboard with an Econasign stencil outfit. The boards being mounted on a home-made timber frame, lit by two 100W bulbs. When this had all been completed, we were quite pleased with the result and sent it off to the magazine Amateur Cine World. We were fortunate enough to be awarded a Specially Commended Leader. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Quainton Railway Society for arranging to transfer my film to video and am pleased to hear that it will be available soon.

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Charles Minns - One of two views of Met A class tank No. 41 at Brill taken at the time The Easy Line was made.

The text in this Quainton Railway Society publication was written in 1987 and so does not reflect events in the 27+ years since publication. The text and photographs are repeated verbatim from the original publication, with only a few minor grammar changes but some clarifying notes are added if deemed necessary. The photos from the original publication are provided as scans in this internet version of this long out of print publication.

The Easy Line - Charles Minns - Quainton News No. 64 - Winter 1987 / 88

Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
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Page Updated: 26 November 2017