Moving Motorways: The Spoil Train to Belfast




Larne, Magheramorne, Newtownabbey, Whitehead





10min 26sec




Standard 8mm



Digitised as part of Unlocking Film Heritage


A.H. Martin, British Film Institute

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A.H. Martin

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Celebrate the final years of steam by chasing the Spoil Train across Antrim, as yesterday’s quarry waste becomes today’s busiest motorway.

Amateur film maker A. H. Martin is in hot pursuit of the Spoil Train, as it makes its epic journey across land and water from the Magheramorne quarry to industrial north Belfast. Leave the vast spoil heap behind as the waters of Larne Lough lap the tracks and plumes of smoke join the clouds. Delight in industrial choreography as quarry waste spills out into the waiting digger jaws to form NI’s busiest road. Then watch the empty carriages trundle their way back, ready to begin again. 



Both the finished M2 and this film are entirely within County Antrim. The last spoil train made this journey on 2nd May 1970, bringing an end to the commercial use of steam traction in Ireland. Formed by years of cement production, the spoil heap at Magheramorne lies on the western side of Larne Lough. Quarrying limestone for the cement plant, ceased in 1980. HBO have used this abandoned quarry as a dramatic setting for Castle Black and Hardhome in Game of Thrones. After visting the quarry George R. R. Martin said: "It’s a pretty spectacular, yet miserable location. It is wet and rainy, and the mud is thick. It really gets the actors in the mood of being at the end of the world in all of this cold and damp and chill".


Filmed by A.H. Martin 

Digitised as part of the BFI's Unlocking Film Heritage project.



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