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Railway Ride Over The Tay

Phantom ride from 1897

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A film shot in two clips by Dundee's pioneer exhibitor Pennycook. The footage is shot from the front of the steam train as it pulls away from Wormit station in Fife (this was called a phantom ride). The train crosses the Tay Bridge with workmen on the right then waits for an eight coach, southbound train to pass from the other direction. The train then goes downhill from the bridge to the sidings, passing a signal box. Clip 2: Another view of a railway ride over the Tay Bridge (1897) showing a train crossing the bridge, passing workmen on left and arriving at the north end of the bridge.

Questions & Activities


  • Which areas does the Tay Bridge link and what would have been carried across on these trains?
  • How can you tell how important the railways were at that time?
  • How did they alter the landscape?
  • Why do you think the train is travelling so slowly?
  • Why do you think this type of early film was called a phantom ride?


Geography / Rivers and Coasts / Economic History: "That's a mighty long bridge"€, said General Ulysees S Grant on a visit to Dundee at this time. Research the importance of the Tay Bridge in developing transport, the economy and tourism in Eastern Scotland.

Technology / Physics / Engineering: The Tay Bridge collapse in 1879 was a national disaster. Research what went wrong with the first bridge and how the second bridge overcame these problems. Research more generally into the engineering of bridges and how we avoid disasters like this. Design and build your own Tay Bridge to accommodate the needs of this particular river.

Moving Image Education / Media Studies: Research how early motion picture cameras functioned and where films were exhibited.

Science / Technology: Compare how trains were powered then and now. Ask the class to research the different energy sources and propulsion mechanisms and then, working in teams, write, record and edit own documentary about the physics of transportation. Finally edit the separate clips into a single science documentary.

Clip Details

Record Id 007-000-000-257-C
Resource Rights Holder National Library of Scotland
Project Ref 2100
Date 1897
Genre Documentary, Local Topical
School Subject History, Economic History, Geography, Science, Technologies, Media Studies
Subject Matter Railways, Rivers and Coasts, Engineering, Victorians
Who Peter Feathers (director)
Where Dundee, Fife
Attributes Black and White, Silent
Clip Length 4:49
Film Length 04:49