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Panamint Cinema vintage transport films by Russell Cowe - Glasgow meeting of 27 January 2011

Russell Cowe is a software engineer who saw an opportunity to turn his hobby into his work a decade ago when he reissued John Gray's classic 1960 BBC documentary "West Highland".

Soon he was in collaboration with Scottish Screen, and now his West Lothian-based company Panamint Cinema has established itself as a leading supplier of nostalgic, historical and documentary films. All Panamint Cinema DVDs are carefully mastered from the best available original materials, sourced from the nation's archives and independent film production companies.

Russell showed us three films:

* "Today & Every Day" (c 1949, b/w, 35 mins). A promotional film in the style of the day introduced by the theme from Paul Temple about the services provided by the newly nationalised British Railways which ncludes rare footage (12 mins) of a GWR King Class under construction at Swindon and introduces new mainline diesel 10000.
*"A Line for All Seasons" (1980, colour, 30 mins). A retrospective by Eddie McConnell (whose work was recently recognised by BAFTA) on the building and beauty of the West Highland Railway from Queen Street to Mallaig ; and
*"The River Clyde" (1939, b/w, 20 mins) by Stanley Russell on the use of the Clyde as a conduit for moving goods in and out of Glasgow.

Scottish film-making saw its first upsurge for the Empire Exhibition of 1938. The war years were inevitably given over to propaganda, but thereafter a revival occurred due to the farsightedness of the Scottish Office, with a Films of Scotland committee chaired by Lord Fraser of Allander. Films of Scotland's great industries were often sponsored by leading companies, but some film-makers clearly saw the end coming for the places of work that they recorded.

Still alive today is Kay Mander, who kept training and social issues to the fore in the 1940s with her innovative documentaries which included one on the life of a Highland Doctor. Recently receiving its first release on DVD was Laxdale Hall, a 1952 comedy about a community confronting a parliamentary delegation over the poor state of their only road link.

The Scottish Region thanks Grant Slessor for hosting the event at Glasgow City Council.

You can find out more about Panamint at

Report by John Yellowlees


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