Mid-Suffolk Light Railway gets new lease of life through film

Hedley Griffin from Laxfield who has made an eight minute animated DVD about the Mid-Suffolk Light R

Hedley Griffin from Laxfield who has made an eight minute animated DVD about the Mid-Suffolk Light Railway called the Middy. Photograph Simon Parker - Credit: Archant

A railway which closed more than 60 years ago came to life once more when a group of schoolchildren produced an animated film.

The Laxfield and District Museum recently produced a DVD about the Mid-Suffolk Light Railway which closed in July 1952.

Called The Middy, the film features voice-over recordings from people who had contact with the railway before it closed.

Laxfield and Wetheringsett Primary Schools, as well as Hartismere School at Eye, all contributed to the film by providing background and animation artwork to complete the production.

The eight-minute film, started in November and funded with a Heritage Lottery grant of £10,000, was produced and directed by Hedley Griffin, from Laxfield, near Stradbroke.

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'I love working with kids and local schools and I've done quite a bit of this over the past few years so I thought it was a project that was worthwhile,' he said. 'We don't have much on the railway and there are just the bare remains of a platform in a field but there is a lot of interest in it.

'My knowledge of the railway was nil when I started, so I found it quite interesting to learn all about this and there are some lovely, funny stories that I got from these people.'

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More than six hours of film were collected from people's memories of the 'Middy' before it closed and an edited version became the soundtrack of the film.

Artwork was created by Mr Griffin, who has been an animation director for almost 40 years, with photographs and photocopies of backgrounds and train equipment, as well as cartoon characters, for the children to copy.

It was also explained how to make an animation work, during classroom workshops, with the children drawing more pictures to complete the animated sequences, while Mr Griffin prepared a storyboard for the youngsters to follow.

Most of the classes created background artwork using colour pencil crayons on A3 cartridge paper, while a few pupils created the animation drawings in black and white to be coloured in by the computer during the processing stage.

Mr Griffin said that one pupil with learning difficulties at Wetheringsett School announced at the end of the lesson that it had been 'the best day at school ever,' while another from Laxfield School gave him a hand-drawn card to say thank you.

He added: 'The schools were very pleased because they got free tuition about how to make a film, so it's a very positive and worthwhile experience.'

A celebration and projection of the film was held earlier this month at Laxfield School. Copies of the DVD are available at the Laxfield Museum for £5.

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