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Railway Roundabout (1958-1962)

John Adams FRSA, ARPS
John Adams, FRSA, ARPS

Railway Roundabout was a three weekly railway news program for children filmed and presented by Patrick Whitehouse and John Adams. Patrick Whitehouse is the author of more than 50 books on railways, now founder of several railway preservation societies including the Dart Valley Railway and Birmingham Railway Museum.

The Railway Roundabout programmes were made during one of the most historically interesting periods in the history of British Railways. The programmes began three years after the BR Modernisation Plan of 1955 was announced and they ended a year before the Beeching Report. Nowadays, the programmes have developed far beyond their original concept of being made for the enjoyment of young viewers and are now of national historical importance.

The programme came about quite by chance after Pat Whitehouse and John Adams met at the Talyllyn Railway and, as a result, made one or two films together. One day John and his wife were at a neighbour's house and happened to mention that he had some railway films. The neighbour was Dennis Morris, who was the head of BBC for the Midlands. "Just the thing for for your children's programming", John said. The outcome was an invitation to meet the Head of Children's Programmes in the Midlands, Peggy Bacon, along with Patrick Whitehouse.

In the end they both had to appear live in the programmes which were broadcast in the years before telerecording.

In all they made 100 films and there were 52 programmes. There were no programmes in July and August each year and most of the filming was done during this period.

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The theme tune is called 'Paris Metro' by William Hill-Bowen.

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