Power to Order

About the film

Power to Order follows the production of a steam locomotive at the renowned Doncaster works.

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  • Release year - 1941
  • Director - Robin Carruthers
  • Production company - Spectator
  • Producer - Ivan Scott
  • Cinematographer - C. Hornby
  • Composer - C. Ridley
  • Editor - N. Wiggins
  • Sound recording - I. Scott
  • Running time (minutes) - 09 mins 43 secs

Original description

Building a locomotive

'Railways are the arteries of industrial Britain's trade. British engineering skill and British steel have made our engines famous all over the world. In this film an engine is built. The growing engine is followed through the boiler-shop, the machine-shop and the assembly-shop.'

(Films of Britain - British Council Film Department Catalogue - 1941)

Did you know?

Several complete locomotives are shown towards the end of this film, and have been identified as the following (in order of appearance):

  • This is an LMS 8F 2-8-0 freight locomotive, introduced 1935 and designed by W. A. Stanier. This type was initially built during WW2 for the Ministry of Defence and Overseas service. The train we see here is probably in Turkey; it’s fitted with air brake hoses and the tender alongside has the Turkish crescent on the side.
  • An unusual locomotive, this is an Iraqi State Railways PC class. A streamlined steam locomotive that ran on the Baghdad to Istanbul route, only four of this model were ever built and only three made it to Iraq — one being lost when the ship carrying it was sunk. It is thought that this particular engine is the 502 ‘El Mosul’ — delivered to Iraq in March 1941, its name (written in Arabic) is just visible on the side.
  • The next train is the LMS 8F again.
  • Merchant Navy Class, introduced 1941 and designed by O. V. Bulleid. In Southern Railway livery and with the original streamlined casing, This particular engine is the 21C1 ‘Channel Packet’— the first prototype engine of this class, with the original streamlined casing and green livery. You can find archive footage of its naming ceremony here.
  • The 4493 ‘Woodcock’: LNER class A4 Pacific, designed by H. N. Gresley. Del new July 1937 in garter blue livery, it was withdrawn in October 1963 and scrapped. This train is the class-mate of 60022 ‘Mallard’ — the world steam record holder — which can be seen today in the National Railway Museum in York.
  • Skipping ahead to 9:13 we see a streamlined LMS Princess Coronation 4-6-2 heading north between Euston and Watford. It was probably decorated the famed crimson lake livery with gold stripes, with matching coaches, on a Euston to Glasgow train. Introduced in 1937 and built up to 1947 it was again designed by W. A. Stanier. The Art Deco streamlined casings were removed from 1941 onwards, but a restored locomotive, the 6229 ‘Duchess of Hamilton’ can bee seen at the National Railway Museum.
  • At 09:25 we see a Southern Railway N15 King Arthur Class. Introduced in 1925 the train we see was fitted with eight wheel tender for the Southern Railway Western Section, Waterloo-Exeter-Plymouth.

Our thanks to Roger Camp, who helped to identify the locomotives and provided much of this information.

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