This film is part of Free

View from an Engine Front - Ilfracombe

A Victorian train trip through the Devonian countryside and into the famous seaside town.

Non-Fiction 1898 4 mins


This exciting trip through the Devonian countryside was one of several ‘phantom ride’ films made in 1898 by dynamic early film producers the Warwick Trading Company. Phantom rides were films in which cameras were attached to the front of trains or trams, enabling viewers to experience their movement vicariously.

With its wildly winding track, its unusual, increasingly steep incline, and the bright vista that emerges from out of a tunnel, the Ilfracombe ride exemplifies the movement and play of light that was basic to the appeal of the phantom ride. At the same time, these films also had picturesque and even documentary qualities: her we enjoy ruggedly attractive scenery and glimpse the intricacies of trains being signalled and brought to a stop, all adding. The film feels continuous but was shot on two separate rolls of celluloid joined together for distribution. The first covers hilly country, the second continues the journey into town where it terminates at the station. Though eventually closed in 1970, parts of the course of the Ilfracombe branch line are still visible today.