50 user 15 critic

The Railway Children (1970)

After the enforced absence of their father, three children move with their mother to Yorkshire, where during their adventures they attempt to discover the reason for his disappearance.


Lionel Jeffries


E. Nesbit (from the celebrated novel by), Lionel Jeffries (screenplay)
Nominated for 2 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Dinah Sheridan ... Mrs. Waterbury (as Miss Dinah Sheridan)
Bernard Cribbins ... Albert Perks (as Mr. Bernard Cribbins)
William Mervyn William Mervyn ... Old Gentleman (as Mr. William Mervyn)
Iain Cuthbertson ... Charles Waterbury (as Mr. Iain Cuthbertson)
Jenny Agutter ... Roberta 'Bobbie' Waterbury (as Miss Jenny Agutter)
Sally Thomsett Sally Thomsett ... Phyllis Waterbury (as Miss Sally Thomsett)
Gary Warren Gary Warren ... Peter Waterbury (as Master Gary Warren)
Peter Bromilow ... Doctor
Ann Lancaster Ann Lancaster ... Ruth
Gordon Whiting Gordon Whiting ... Russian
Beatrix Mackey Beatrix Mackey ... Aunt Emma
Deddie Davies ... Mrs. Perks
David Lodge ... Bandmaster
Christopher Witty Christopher Witty ... Jim
Brenda Cowling Brenda Cowling ... Mrs. Viney


The film opens in a happy, comfortable upper middle-class home in Edwardian London. One night in 1905, the three children see their father usher two strangers into his study. After an argument he leaves with them and does not return. They and their mother fall on hard times and eventually move to a cottage in the country. Yet they keep their spirits up and find ways to help others. Fascinated by the nearby railway, they wave to the passengers faithfully every day, and their vigilance and courage prevent an accident. Their kindness makes friends of some important people who can help solve the mystery of their missing father. Written by Paul Emmons <pemmons@wcupa.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A film for adults to take their children, too! See more »


Drama | Family


G | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


The eldest of the railway children, Roberta, is named after Berta Ruck, a close friend of E. Nesbit's. See more »


This movie is set in 1905, yet after Perks opens the crossing gates to let an express train through, it's hauled by an 0-6-2 N2 class locomotive, a type of locomotive not built until the early 1920s. See more »


Phyllis Waterbury: It's like we're in a besieged castle, the arrows of the foe striking against the battlements.
Peter Waterbury: No, it's more like a great big garden squirt.
Phyllis Waterbury: You're a great big garden squirt.
Peter Waterbury: Thank you.
See more »

Crazy Credits

As the end credit captions are displayed the shot tracks towards a steam locomotive, in front of which are gathered the principal cast. They are surrounded by extras portraying local townspeople, who wave and say goodbye to the audience. All the while, Jenny Agutter is preoccupied with writing something on a slate. As the camera reaches her, she holds it up to display the words "The End". See more »


Version of Masterpiece Classic: The Railway Children (2000) See more »


The Man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo
Written by Fred Gilbert
Performed by Amelia Bayntun (as the cook) and the children
See more »

User Reviews

"It's perfect - more perfect than you'll ever know"...
13 July 2006 | by ozmy21See all my reviews

This is a film that I love above all others. I try to revisit the main film locations in Oakworth and Oxenhope whenever I can, which help to re-establish those magical qualities that this film seems to embody so uniquely - recalling a gentler and more mannered age, with its unspoken assertions that people really do matter, that family life is not just another disposable, and that life really is worth living (though sometimes, we may doubt that). In short, a film that soon brings tears to my eyes, helped perhaps by the deeply evocative music - some tunes are jaunty (like the Perks' tune, played on a trombone, sometimes with spoons), the stirring melody when the family first set off for Yorkshire not knowing what lies ahead, and the haunting little tune played on a solo clarinet (or is it an oboe?) that precedes sudden child-felt changes in fortune.

This is as much a film for adults as for children, appealing to the eternal child in us all - a key that effortlessly reactivates those deep and apparently long-lost values and feelings buried inside us, which are normally swept aside by the demands of modern everyday life. This is a film about basic human goodness and decency in which we the viewers are left to make of it what we will, and there are welcome touches of humour sometimes added for good measure, such as the arrival of the aunt or, on a more earthy level, the bedroom scene on Perks' birthday - "All right Bert - as it's your birthday!" I must know every scene, every line of this film, and yet so great is the magic that each time I watch, it is like I am opening a box of delights for the first time, savouring each moment - sometimes humorous, sometimes....well, very different. As Peter says in the film: "it's perfect - more perfect than you know". And so it is!!!

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

22 December 1970 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

The Railway Children See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

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Company Credits

Production Co:

EMI Films See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

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