Sunday, 3 April 2011

Charles Williams: Model Railway

In my younger days every boy aspired to owning a model railway – be it the Hornby tin-plate which survived into the late 1950s or the Tri-ang trains which were so popular in the 'sixties and beyond. Nowadays, I guess that computer games will have taken their toll on the number of train-sets sold. However, model railways are still very important to a large number of enthusiasts.
Charles Williams (1893-1978) is a composer who became one of the leading figures of the classic age of British Light Music. He is perhaps best known for the theme music for the radio programme Dick Barton – The Devil’s Galop. However he composed a number of film scores including Hitchcock’s version of the John Buchan story The Thirty-Nine Steps and The Night Has Eyes. Many people know The Dream of Olwen, which is a mini-concerto for piano and orchestra.
However it is his mood music that provided his bread and butter. There are literally dozens of pieces such as Rhythm on the Rails, High Adventure and Sally Tries the Ballet.
Model Railway was a fine example of this mood-music that has largely lain hidden in the archives for many years. Certainly the one recording of this evocative work was made in 1950 and had to wait over half a century before it appeared on CD.
It is one those works that is exactly what the title says. There can be no doubt that this is firstly real railway music and secondly it is not the full-scale variety. The music fairly chugs along complete with wooden whistle. Perhaps it is miniature railway like those still in operation at Rhyl or Arbroath? Or maybe it is the good old Hornby Dublo?

Model Railway is available on Guild Light Music GLCD 5125 and ASV WHL2151.

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