It’s quicker by hearse

Esther Johnson

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19’ • 2013 • ov english • st french • United Kingdom • documentary

When Madge Elliot complained about the announced closure of her local train station in Hawick, her mother told her to do something about it, and that’s just what she did. It’s quicker by hearse tells the story of Elliot who, together with her 11-year-old son Kim, Harry Brown the piper and Edinburgh University Railway Society president Bruce McCartney, marched to Downing Street to deliver a petition of 11,768 signatures on 18 December 1968.
When final closure was penciled for 7 January 1969, Madge and her campaign group continued their protest by posting a coffin on the last train to leave Hawick station and travel to London. The coffin was emblazoned with the words
‘Waverley Line – born 1848 killed 1969’ and was addressed to the then Minister of Transport Richard Marsh.
Hawick was on the Waverley Route running between Carlisle and Edinburgh and was a vital connection for the Borders communities. The route was one of the first lines to be axed, closing after 120 years, as the report deemed it as being uneconomical. No
other line closure left a population so far from a rail network.

This work investigates how the national changes recommended in the infamous Beeching report, titled The Reshaping of British Railways, impacted Elliot and her local community.
Elliot’s grassroots campaign raised questions of the need for social progress that does not reject the traditions of the past.

cinematography: Liam Iandoli
sound recordist: Emanuele Costantini
editing: Chris Wyatt
sound mixing: Marcelo de Oliveira
colourist: Sue Giovanni
additional cinematography, sound and editing : Esther Johnson

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