The Railway Children

The Railway Children

The Railway Children

E. Nesbit

Adapted by Shaun Hughes

Shaun Hughes

4 - 11 December 2021

Audition Info
Audition Thu 23 September 2021 7:00pm Foyer

From the novel by E. Nesbit and adapted and directed by Shaun Hughes

Audition Date; Thursday 23 September, 7pm, Lewes Little Theatre Foyer

Performance Dates; Saturday 4 - Saturday 11 December 2021

The Railway Children was originally serialised in The London Magazine in 1905 and first published in book form in 1906. It has been adapted for the screen several times, of which the 1970 film version is the best known.

The story follows a family who have a comfortable life in their modern Edwardian London home with every modern convenience and servants on call. The family consist of Father and Mother, Roberta (Bobbie), Peter and Phyllis (Phil). Their world is turned upside down when Father is falsely accused of spying and is imprisoned. Due to their change in circumstances the family move from London to Oakworth, Yorkshire to live at ‘The Three Chimneys’, a house near a railway. The children are happy to enjoy their new freedom and they explore the area finding the nearby railway very exciting compared to the formality of their London life. The children invent names for the ‘dragons’ they see every day on the railway and decide to wave to the trains that pass, sending their love to Father in London. When Mother falls ill the children seek the help of an Old Gentleman who returns their waves each day from the 9:15. He befriends the children and gives assistance to the whole family in many different ways. At the station the children are befriended by the station porter, and they meet a Russian exile, and an injured grammar schoolboy. The children are rewarded when they manage to save the lives of all those onboard a train which is heading into a landslide by famously waving red petticoats at the oncoming train. Finally, the Old Gentleman gives the children the greatest gift of all. The story has been adapted for the screen six times, including four television series, a feature film, and a made-for-television film. For radio it was serialised first in 1940 and later in 1991. Following the success of the 1968 television dramatisation, the film rights were bought by the actor Lionel Jeffries, who then wrote and directed the film, which was released in 1970 with Jenny Agutter (Roberta), Sally Thomsett (Phyllis), Gary Warren (Peter), Dinah Sheridan (Mother), and Bernard Cribbins (Perks) starring in the film. This charming story has continued to delight readers since it was first published and continues to be widely read by children everywhere. Please join us on this journey of joy where the trains are as characterful as the passengers and the railway children have exiting adventures. The book has been especially adapted by Shaun Hughes for Lewes Little Theatre in a family friendly version.


Mother - playing age: middle age. An Edwardian lady. Multi-tasking, thoughtful, generous to a fault, and supportive of her husband above all else. Happy to earn a living when her station in life changes dramatically. Well aware of the structure of Edwardian England and understands who can help her and how that support can be passed on. A very empathetic person.

Father - playing age: middle age. A strong personality. A good father to the children, happy to play with them and when to explain when he is not able to play. He has a strong bond with Mother and the children, especially Roberta.

Roberta (Bobbie) - playing age: young woman/older teenager. The oldest of the children and happy to lead the others. She is kind and thoughtful. Very happy to help others without a thought for her own safety. A girl on the verge of becoming a young woman, she encounters new thoughts and feelings that the other children have not yet reached.

Peter - playing age: young boy/man. A boy, hoping to be a young man very soon, who has been tutored in the role of man-of-the-house. He squabbles with his sisters but would do anything to protect them from harm. He thinks he knows a lot when he actually knows a little.

Phyllis (Phil) - playing age: young teenager. The youngest child and always behind the others, in many ways. She is often late, as her shoelace is always coming undone, but she always has the best of intentions. Likes to talk of medical matters with Peter but cannot stand the sight of blood.

Old Gentleman - playing age: middle age/older. A man, well versed in leisure and the comfort that being rich brings. Rich enough to be kind to strangers and old enough to have a grandson. One of the owners of the railway.

Perks (Station Porter) -playing age: young middle age. A hard working man who lives near to the railway station. He is proud. He is fond of the children, who he sees as needing his protection and guidance.

Mrs Perks - playing age: middle age. Wife to Mr Perks and mother to several children. Hardworking. Proud of her husband. Mrs Viney (‘The Three Chimneys’ Housekeeper) - playing age: young middle age. A even tempered woman able to juggle many jobs as once. Always busy.

Ruth (London Housemaid) - playing age: any. Dedicated and happy in the company of the children. Doctor Forrest - playing age: any. Hardworking, and easy to talk too. A generous and understanding man.

Mr Szezcpansky - playing age: middle age. A Russian exile cared for by Mother and children. Speaks French and Russian. A man worn out by prison and travel, old enough to have a wife and children.

Jim - playing age: young man. A grammar school pupil who injures his leg and is cared for by Mother and Roberta. He believes in ‘a stiff upper lip’ approach to pain, but sometimes it is too much.

For a discussion about the production, and/or a copy of the script, please contact Shaun Hughes on 07971 815883 or email