Object of the month

March 2024

Hawksworth Cine Films

This month’s Object of the Month is a first for STEAM.  In 2023 we were donated 12 reels of cine film belonging to Frederick Hawksworth, Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Great Western Railway between 1941 and 1949.  It is the first original film that has entered into the Museum’s collection and we were thrilled to accept it.  In January 2024 the cine films were digitised by the Oxford Duplication Centre and the work was generously funded by the Friends of Swindon Railway Museum.

The films are a fascinating insight into life in the late 1940s and early 1950s. They show Hawksworth both at work, and once he had retired. Before the donation we only saw Hawksworth at work on the railway. In photographs he can look quite serious, but the films show another side to him; One that is more personable and friendly. Hawksworth liked to play golf with friends and regularly went on holidays with his sister, Daisy.


Frederick Hawksworth filming scenes for a Government film, 1949

One reel shows Hawksworth shooting scenes for a Government film on jet engines. His role was to talk about the experimental gas turbine locomotives. Hawksworth had helped purchase two for the GWR, which subsequently ran for British Railways. Another of the reels show one of these locomotives, No. 18100 in action. Probably taken in about 1950 it shows the locomotive hauling carriages on the mainline between Bristol and London. It also captures the driver and famous locations along the line, including Box Tunnel.

Gas Turbine Locomotive, No. 18100, emerging from Middle Hill Tunnel near Bristol, c1950.

Outside of work Hawksworth was well travelled. He often went abroad with his sister. They took their cine film camera with them and captured the sights of various English and European destinations. They are an important record of life in the post war age. They show the beach in Bournemouth, packed with holidaymakers, and tourists getting onto boat trains at Calais ready for their onward journeys on the continent. A fascinating watch.

Frederick Hawksworth on the beach at Bournemouth, 1949.

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