WELCOME TO DAVID HEY'S COLLECTION
This website is full of memories from a gentler, more innocent age when the post-war baby-boom was at its height and kids climbed trees, played hopscotch in the street and rode bikes without brakes, all of which is a far cry from today's mamby-pamby society. Life back then was something of a 'Boy's Own' adventure, if you like...but how time flies! Fast-forward 50-odd years and my doddering generation is now well past its prime, yet the ageing process does have its advantages - it gives us a chance to draw on feelings that we were unable to express as small boys.
That's why this website is pitched in a light-hearted fashion. After all, the hobby cuts no ice in today's hard-nosed society and this is especially the case at the parties I'm invited, where the people I meet are constantly looking over my shoulder in case someone more interesting enters the room.
Their behavioural tic becomes more frantic when I do my favourite party trick, a tongue-twister...it works best if you pinch your nose and speak in a high-pitched train announcer's voice; it adds pathos to the drama!
'The train now standing at platform four is the five o' four for Forfar, calling at Fife. The first four coaches are for Forfar...the far five for Fife. The first four reach Forfar at four fifty-four and the far five at Fife at five forty-five!
Okay, you're probably thinking there's a village missing an idiot somewhere so I'll stop larking around. After all, there is a serious side to this site too. It is the growing sense that if we lose sight of our past then we may as well say goodbye to the future.
In fact the hobby is to become the focus of a forthcoming season at the National Railway Museum at York from September 2014 to March 2015. What a brilliant idea!
Let's face it, train spotters have some great tales to tell. So why not share your stories and photographs with the NRM?
Click HERE to visit the spotting page on the NRM's website. The museum is seeking photographs of train spotters and stories about their adventures, past and present… and it doesn't matter whether you are a steam, diesel or electric spotter, the NRM would like to hear from you.
Go on, give it a try! It'll be great to be involved…
For many spotters the end of steam overshadowed everything, but locking away one's feelings will not dispose of them, rather it evokes a lot more feelings besides. Once you start unearthing childhood memories long lost in the mists of time a much bigger story starts to unfold; you begin to develop an extraordinary affection for old red telephone boxes, Dinky Toys, Hornby Dublo trains, Vespa scooters, frog-eyed Sprites, old bangers with running boards and starting handles - even women PCs in stockings and suspenders. Indeed much of what has disappeared during the past fifty years means something special to someone in one form or other, especially BR steam in everyday service.
Today countless thousands of ex-spotters still bear the emotional scars of abandoning their allegiance to steam during the 1960s. Many abstained from the hobby as a matter of principle, others in reluctant surrender, but whatever the reason the overall feeling was that as steam had outlived its usefulness, then so had our interest in trains - a view in which we managed to persist until the bitter finale came in August 1968, and just five steam locomotives were left: 3 Black 5s Nos 44781, 44871, 45110; a solitary 8F No 48448 and the last working 'Britannia' No 70013 Olver Cromwell. Sadly, after the '15 Guinea Special' ran on August 11th 1968 it was all over and train spotting would never be the same again...the huge crowds gathered by the lineside to watch BR's last steam-hauled train was quite extraordinary; indeed when you start to delve into the psyche of the spotting fraternity it is difficult to differentiate between out-and-out dedication and mental illness...
This brings me the tale about a hard-core enthusiast who bought two tickets for the '15 Guinea Special'. As he settled into his seat by the window, another man asked if anyone was sitting in the seat opposite him.
'No', he replied, 'the seat is empty….'
'Really!' said the man surprised, 'Who in their right mind would buy a 15 guinea ticket and not use it?'
'Well, actually the seat belongs to me. My wife was meant to be here, but she passed away.'
'Oh, I'm sorry to hear that...I guess you couldn't find someone else, such as a friend or relative to take the seat?'
'No, they're all at the funeral,' he replied.
(Above-Below) We start off with yet another update to Rail Cameraman, Simon Lathlane's page HERE; one of the few enthusiasts I know who has the knack of finding jewels of photos where nobody thinks to look; his collection of old glass plate negatives are especially interesting as they reveal a standard of railway photography from fifty-odd years ago that few of us can hope to rival - and let's be honest about this, considering what's on offer in today's high-tech digital age that's saying something!
Simon writes - 'Hi David, I've recently acquired a very nice glass plate negative of Thompson Class A2/3 No 500 'Edward Thompson' seen at the side of 'South Box'? I wonder if this could be Top Shed as sadly there is no description or date on the outer sleeve...perhaps someone will know? She was the first of the class named after its designer being built in May 1946 at Doncaster Works and named at Marylebone on 31st May. It was later given the number 60500 in October 1949 by BR. All the Thompson A2/3 engines were turned out in full LNER lined green livery with a total of fifteen built. From July 1949 BR Brunswick green livery with orange and black lining was adopted on the A2/3s. I understand No 60500 was transferred from Kings Cross to New England with the introduction of the Peppercorn A1s. No 60500 survived until withdrawn in June 1963. (Below) Moving onto a superb medium format negative of Peppercorn A1 Class No 60128 'Bongrace' seen here arriving with a up express at Darlington. No date but must be late 1950s with some nice Gresley teak coaches in shot. What a great location this is with the building on the far right topped by chimney pots adding so much. No 60128 was named in November 1950 after the 1926 Doncaster Cup winner. Built at Doncaster Works in May 1949 and allocated to Copley Hill. Final shed was Doncaster and she remained in service until 10th January 1965 and cut up by A.Draper of Hull.
(Above) Lastly, for now, we have a superb Agfa CT18 slide of BR Britannia Class No 70052 'Firth of Tay' seen here at Nottingham Midland station after arriving with the LCGB's 'Notts & Lincs Railtour' on 24th April 1965. The Brit had started off at London St Pancras station and travelled north through Bedford-Attenborough and Lenton South junction to get to Nottingham Midland. She worked the return working later in the day working through Melton Mowbray-Kettering-Bedford and then arriving back at London St Pancras at 20.40 information from the excellent Six Bells Junction website. No 70052 is paired with one of the high-sided larger capacity BR1D type tenders, with coal pushers. Also of note is the unlined paintwork, which was a frequent economy measure during steam's last few years.
Thanks Simon...if you are a first-time visitor to this site, you will find a marvelous collection of glass plate negatives covering the 'Big Four' railway companies on Simon's page...not to be missed! They are quite superb! Click HERE to visit the updated page 73...
(Above-Below) Geoff Burch's 'Ramblings of a Railwayman 1' (Page 32) has been updated with a number of colour shots capturing BR steam days on the North Downs Line between Shalford Junction and Redhill, calling at Chilworth, Gomshall and Betchworth along the way. The North Downs are a ridge of chalk hills that stretch from Farnham and Guildford in Surrey to the coastal white cliffs between Folkestone and Deal in the east. This ridge of hills are prefixed 'north' to distinguish them from a similar range of hills running roughly parallel to them but some 31 miles to the south. There are two distinct aspects of the North Downs, the gentle north facing slope and the steep south facing escarpment which gives way to the flat, broad clay land known as the Vale of Holmesdale. Against a backdrop of beautiful Surrey hills, an unidentified BR Standard 2-6-4T coasts down the bank into Dorking Town station with a stopping passenger service from Reading to Redhill. (Below) This update contains over forty previously unpublished colour photographs reproduced courtesy of the Alfred James Temple Collection, including this lovely shot of Class S11 30400 about to depart Betchworth circa 1954. The fireman seems quite content looking out of the side. Similar to the L12 Class, ten of these 4-4-0 steam locomotives were designed for express passenger work by Dugald Drummond. No 30400 was the last loco withdrawn from service in February 1955 from Guildford shed (70C). Click HERE to visit Geoff's updated page...
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT!
I have recently been contacted by Rail Cameraman, John Stoddart (see pages 71-72). It concerns an aspect of railway photography that rarely gets a mention on the web; I'm talking about stereoscopics, better known as 3D imaging, which is a technique for creating the illusion of depth by means of stereopsis for binocular vision.
John's friend, Ben Clifford, has been scanning a number of his grandfather's old photos circa 1900-1935 for archiving purposes. Ben is pretty certain the camera used was a Richard Verascope which took 44mm square images. A similar camera belonging to the Scottish explorer William S Bruce was donated to the Royal Scottish Geographical Society by Bruce's granddaughter Moira Watson of Hamilton, Ontario. Details of the camera and case (right) can be found on the excellent RSGS's website HERE.
Ben is converting the stereoscopic photos into 3D images viewable with red/cyan glasses. One stereoscopic slide (below) was taken at Liverpool Street station in 1928, and shows the famous old roof with two local trains in the foreground. Ben has scanned this slide in a significantly higher resolution than shown here, however I am advised that there is nothing to be gained in uploading a higher resolution version since a 3.8 megapixel image pair is right at the resolution of a Mac with a 1440p display, and is also just sufficient to show the grain structure of the original 40 mm square images. It should also be noted that parallel viewing without some sort of viewer is difficult, and with large image pairs almost impossible since it requires 'wall-eyed' viewing of the pair. Jack Elam, the cowboy actor (left) would have been a natural!
Needless to say, I am fascinated by the 3D process but lack the savvy to explain how it works in laymans' terms. Thankfully John has kindly stepped into the breach...
'David, although you are posting Ben's full narrative on Page 2 (link below) perhaps an explanation of 3D in its simplest form will be of benefit to the casual viewer…
The key to understanding stereoscopic imagery is knowing how the eyes actually see things and how the brain interprets what they see. Start by placing your finger against your nose. Each eye sees the finger from a different angle and presents a separate view to the brain. This is how we see everything at any distance. Obviously, the further away something is, the closer those two images coincide. The brain combines those two images into one and turns the difference between them into our sense of depth and perspective - the third dimension.
Stereoscopic photography mimics what the eyes actually see by taking two simultaneous photos through lenses the same distance apart as our eyes - about 70mm. At first sight, the stereoscopic images of Liverpool Street station are exactly the same. But look carefully and you'll see that slightly more of the train's destination board is visible on the right-hand photo than the left hand one. Almost all of 'St' in the right hand photograph (presumably the tail end of Liverpool St) can be seen but it's slightly chopped-off in the left hand one. This is how our two eyes would actually see the view and how the stereoscopic camera took it. Viewed live, our brain would combine those images to produce three dimensions.
A very close analogy can be gained from stereo sound reproduction; even though only two separate channels are captured, a well-engineered recording on good equipment can reproduce most of what we hear in real life, an audio image that goes from outside either speaker to the centre and back beyond the walls of the room so that you can actually pinpoint the location of instruments and voices between and beyond the speakers. In an out-of-phase recording you can even achieve the impression that there's sound behind the listener.
With stereoscopic images, there are three ways (more, actually, but we'll stick to 3 here) to provide that help:
1) The stereoscopic viewer (left) is designed to render a 3D image from side-by-side, printed stereoscopic images, and those designed to view them on a computer screen.
2) With practice, without a viewer, training your eyes to stare at the images separately at a close distance, (the Jack Elam technique) or going slightly cross-eyed. To make the cross-eyed method work, you have to switch the displayed images horizontally, i.e. put the left camera image on the right, and vice versa...in effect you are 'flipping' the two images by crossing your eyes (above right).
3) Or you can create an anaglyph, as Ben has done (below), and use 3D glasses to get a 3D effect. Anaglyphs, and the decoding glasses, come mainly in red/cyan.
Older readers who saw 3D movies in a theatre about 60 years ago may recall red/blue 3D glasses. These days some people (National Film Board of Canada for instance) are also using blue/amber anaglyphs.
Of course you can always make your own 3D glasses (right). Click HERE for simple instructions.
Incidentally, you can take stereoscopic photographs with a normal camera by exposing one image and then moving their tripod 3 inches to the right for a second one, provided your subject is motionless in the meantime...'
(Above-Below) John continues: 'Ben does have some control over the way the anaglyph is made therefore he has sent two images because the success of the 3D effect seems to vary from screen to screen; he thought he'd let you take a look at both possible alternatives. Here is the first example above...click on image to see the full size (the image will open in a new window).
In the other example (below) it appears as if the subject material is further behind the so-called 'viewing window'...again click-on image to see the full size (this image will also open in a new window).
These differences can be controlled over quite a wide range. He could make one even deeper, but at some point the effect starts to feel less natural.'
Well, you learn something new every day.
For more information on the subject of 3D photography, you will find Ben Clifford's fascinating insight on Page 2 HERE
(Above) The success of Derek Dean's remarkable in-depth study of the BR 'Britannia' Class 7 has warranted an additional two pages; we simply couldn't cram all the information onto one page! Therefore BR's fleet of 55 locomotives Nos 70000 - 70054 are now featured on three Pages 90 - 92 (see left-hand page menu). Needless to say, this is proving to be a massive undertaking, but Derek has pulled out all the stops by compiling a history of every 'Britannia' class loco.
P91 deals with the first batch Nos 70000-70024 and P92 features the second and third batches Nos 70025 - 70054. This lovely colour image (above) from Stuart Sanders shows us how the Britannias were turned out by Immingham MPD (40B), with 70041 Sir John Moore ready to depart Kings Cross Station with the tea-time departure for Cleethorpes in the late summer of 1961. The depot eventually had use of seven of the Pacifics until the end of 1963, with 70041 being one of the first three to arrive, all coming from Norwich Thorpe. Click here to visit Derek's page 92...
(Below) The superb railway photographs of Stuart Sanders are now featured on a new page 89. When Stuart was train spotting at Hitchin, BR's main line diesel locomotives were still something of a novelty, but even at that young age he was aware that big changes were about to take place; in 1951 the first new BR Standard Class locomotives were rolling off the production line and the rank and file of aging steam classes, many dating back to pre-Grouping days (pre-1923) were reaching the end of their days. He doubtless gave little thought that the lifespan of the new BR Standard class locos would be relatively shortlived. Here he captures an imposing image of Class 7MT 70039 Sir Christopher Wren powering through the snow at Hitchin with an express for Kings Cross. Click HERE to visit Stuart's new page.
(Inset-Below) Whilst many rail cameramen gave up the chase at the end of BR steam days, Trevor Ermel's reconnaissances with a camera continued unabated and I am delighted to feature the places he visited during the 1970s on his second 'Rail Cameraman' page.
Trevor begins with 'D' IS FOR DIESEL' featuring mainly green diesels during the late 1960s. This is followed by 'MORE TRAINS ON TYNESIDE' - a superb photo gallery of colour pictures from the 1970s with locations including Newcastle, Gateshead and the Tyne Bridges.
Next he takes us on a five-day visit to West Germany in 1974, with some splendid action shots of one of the last steam-worked main lines in Europe, the Rheine to Emden main line; all can be found in his 'TO GERMANY FOR STEAM' section.
Then in the mid-1970s he headed south to photograph the Rail Blue era in the 'WEST OF ENGLAND' - an evocative photographic record of mainly 'Westerns' and Class 50s in Devon and Cornwall. Back on home ground, Trevor was at the 'RAIL 150' celebrations in 1975 to give us this behind the scenes view of the exhibition and 'Grand Cavalcade of Steam' at Shildon.
The 'EAST COAST MAIN LINE' beckoned next; featuring a journey along the route from Kings Cross to Berwick in the 1970s, with lots of colour photos of 'Deltics'.
His latest update takes us to 'SOUTH AFRICA 1976' where steam was still very much in evidence; his photo gallery will reawaken many happy memories of BR steam sheds in the 1960s - a superb collection of 49 new photos of South Africa's steam giants. (Inset). An immaculately turned-out Class 14R 4-8-2 No 1911 has just pushed loaded coal wagons to the top. (Below) A fine shot of steam locos in residence at Paarden Eiland shed, with the fabulous backdrop of Table Mountain. Click HERE to visit Trevor's updated Page 70.
Can you help a publisher with photographs?
I have recently been contacted by Sophie Mortimer, Picture Manager, Windmill Books. The publisher is creating a series of books about Steam Trains called 'Steam Challenge'.
Sophie writes - 'The first book is about The Transcontinental Railway USA in the age of Steam. We are looking for dynamic close up images of the steam locomotives used on the Transcontinental Railway such as the Fat Boy 4884, Union Pacific 2295 and any other dynamic photograph of steam locomotives used on the railway.
The second Book is about The West Highland Line. Again we are looking for striking images of steam engines on this line from bygone steam days and the current preserved scene. We are also interested in construction photographs and any other local photographs of interest - for example sheep crossing the line or something like this...'
The photographs will be credited and a fee paid for each image used. If you are interested, the contact email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
A LIFETIME OF MEMORIES RECORDED
Creative writing can be a daunting task when you're stuck for something to say, but there are ways of getting around it if you dig deep enough; indeed you'll probably be spoilt for choice. After all, one's lifetime experiences are an exclusive commodity and so regardless of the quality of grammar and spelling, everyone has a different story to tell, from the good times to the downright ugly, and you don't have to be a literary genius either; once you get going you'll find it an uplifting exercise.
This brings me to the memories of Ian G, whose stories of the late Forties and early Fifties slot-in nicely with the content of this site because trains and railways were part of his childhood. Moreover his observations of bygone days may encourage others to follow his example and start writing their own memoirs, if only for themselves; indeed the magical thing about Ian's stories is that he writes with no audience in mind save perhaps his children and grandchildren at some indeterminate future; he wishes that both his parents had catalogued their lives for him to read.
So, with this thought in mind, the story (below) relates to his childhood in the Midlands, but of course the setting could be anywhere. We all have memories of the view from our bedroom window...
'SNAPSHOTS IN MY MIND.'
Ian G remembers
Through my bedroom window, I could see the farm, only a field away. Next to the farm was our playing field, which was always kept as grass for grazing. In wintertime we played football, in summer it was cricket. Word would soon get around there was a game going, friend and foe would come from their homes to join in, teams would be picked and coats or stumps laid, we would have endless games and fun in abundance. This field we shared with the cows was our Wembley, it was our Oval, for a fleeting moment we became Stanley Mathews or Dennis Compton, we were Derby County and we were having fun. In summertime, games were played late into the evening, 'till failing light signalled it was time to go, gathering our coats we would wearily make our way home.
The railway line was a little further away and at least half a day would be allowed for this excursion, it was a country line used mainly by freight trains, which we children called goods trains. 'Our spot' was out in the countryside, where a small junction siding connected to a colliery spur, where two signal boxes controlled the junction and sidings. We could overlook the entire scene from a farm over-bridge, where the twin tracks stretched arrow-like into the distance, on our right, was one of two signal boxes, the other, being some half a mile distant. At this point, the railway ran through a cutting with grassy banks either side, for miles ahead the railway was fenced off from the fields by a substantial tarred-timber fence.
Coal was the life-blood of the nation and must be kept moving; there seemed an endless stream of passing coal trains. Two nearby collieries with connecting spurs to the sidings allowed loaded trucks to be brought down into the sidings, where they would be sorted and assembled into train loads. An engine and crew were on duty to assemble the trains; part of the sidings came under the bridge to the buffer stops some two hundred yards distant. A strengthening brick wall formed a convenient ledge under the bridge upon which we would huddle under the arch of the bridge as the engine shunted up and down. From a distance, the puff of a steam engine seems quite innocent, I can assure you, when the engine came under the bridge straining at the leash, there was a tremendous 'whoosh' 'whoosh' and smoke and steam would blot out everything, we would break cover and run for fresh air, eyes watering, coughing and spluttering, even the engine crew seemed to join in the fun.
At this particular spot, the engines had to work very hard pulling their loads up the gradient, the laboured efforts of the engine would always seem to me to be almost human, 'I can do it - I can do it,' they would snort in rhythm with their exhaust, their speed would barely be sufficient to maintain momentum, quite often it seemed to me, they would stall to a halt, but they never did. For some inexplicable reason I would compulsively count the number of trucks as they trundled by, (still do, sad) I close my eyes and see the guard on the veranda of his van, pouring overboard the unwanted remains from his tea urn, in preparation for a fresh brew.
On one of those childhood summer days, when all was warm and quiet, save for the whispering grass, the faint tingle of bells would waft across the shimmering tracks. Silent movement witnessed in the box as the shadowy signalman pulled a lever. Not far away, a signal arm would clang and point accusingly up at the cloudless sky, telling us a train was coming down the line. Sometimes, it would be a passenger train, which would canter down the gradient with its two or three carriages, this was not a line where express trains came thundering down, it was pastoral line, it was a country line.
Country railways are the same all over, for they are spasmodic places, where periods of calm are interrupted with sudden noisy movement, only to return to calm again. As the last coach went under our bridge, the signalman moved again in his box, the signal clanging back to rest.
Silence returned once more.
(Above Right & Below) Coal was the life-blood of the nation and had to be kept moving...sporting a 16C (Mansfield) shed code on the smokebox door, Class 8F 48379 heads a heavy westbound coal train at Whatstandwell on 24th May 1952. (Below) Before the new diesel multiple units were introduced on local passenger services, the elderly LMS 4-4-0s were regularly employed...this three-cylinder Compound No 41103 is heading a Buxton to Manchester Central on 12th October 1957.
MEMORIES OF KINGSWEAR STATION.
The one beef I have about today's technology is that the handwritten letter is no longer the most heartfelt form of communication; few people can be bothered putting pen to paper nowadays...everyone is in such a mad rush, either blogging, tweeting or emailing one another in the cold anonymity of cyberspace, and all too often the message is abbreviated and contains little or no substance.
Now call me old-fashioned, but an uplifting email is like a breath of fresh air. I received one the other day. It came from 75 year-old Ian G, who was telling me about his childhood reminiscences of living in a Devon seaside village.
In essence, Ian was harking back to the days of his youth when at the age of 14, his family upped sticks from the Midlands and set out for a new life in Dartmouth. Over the years, Ian has compiled several strands of stories - 'Snapshots In My Mind' - which have remained filed away in various repositories of his PC, but at long last he has revived them for publication on the web and the first of his stories relating to the day he left school and starting his first job as Junior Booking Clerk at Kingsmear station is featured on the 'BR Western Region 2' page HERE
Having started this site back in 2007, I have been greatly encouraged by the extraordinary level of support I've received from contributors; it has just grown and grown over the years. However, in an odd sort of way this wonderful generosity has led to some confusion; the domain name, 'David Hey's Collection' is now something of a misnomer. It implies that all the photographs on these pages belong to me...
Worse still, because my name is at the top of every page I risk delivering a snub to everyone involved by seemingly claiming it as my own work. IT ISN'T and I'M NOT! This worried me so much that I decided to change the site name, but an IT friend advised against it. It would be like starting all over again; there are thousands of links to consider. You'll end up making so many changes you'll lose your marbles, he said.
In that case I'll stick to the way things are. I'd rather keep my marbles thank you very much, especially now I'm getting older; it's a wee-bit like my friend who has a bad back and can't bend down for toffee; when he dropped a five-pound note in the street his first thought was 'Do I really need that?' There's a message in there somewhere, though I'm not sure what!
What I am sure about is that a high number of contributors have kindly corrected mistakes that appear in the captions. This is so important; every day hundreds of thousands of enthusiasts visit the Internet, each with their own diverse interests and all with varying expertise, which makes it doubly difficult to pitch the right level of information without sounding patronising. There are some enthusiasts who analyse a subject right down to the smallest detail; fair enough, the ins and outs of railway operation is fascinating and it is important to get the facts right...
For example, Ed Chaplin recently dropped a line to point out an error in identifying the train reporting numbers displayed by a couple of Cardiff Canton (86C) 'Britannias' on the 'Western Region -2' page 22 HERE.
I sent Ed an email of thanks, and discovered that he has collected a mass of information on this very subject over the years, starting from the beginning of the system in 1934, sketchy only; then he went on to research 1939, followed by 1952 onwards.
Well, like many others, I suspect, the configuration of the WR's numerals on the front of locomotives were something of an enigma to most enthusiasts; we knew what they meant, of course, but taking into account the high number of different codes for different workings the identity of some trains remained a mystery.
So I asked Ed if he would be willing to pass on the findings of his studies for the benefit of site visitors, and I am delighted to say he kindly agreed.
He writes - 'It is a worthwhile task and I shall enjoy getting more to grips with it. The system was fairly steady until the winter of 1958 when wholesale revision occurred; then again in 1959 another round of revisions took place.
To give you some idea about revisions, in 1934 the down 'Cornish Riviera' began with 125, later revised to 141 in 1939, then 160 in 1949, 130 in 1951, 133 in 1958, 416 as from 11.9.58 and 426 as from 14.6.59…all in all, quite a performance!
I have most of the 1950s data when Western Region photos shown in print were taken by such luminaries as RC Riley, M Mensing and RJ Blenkinsop plus many others. However, for the purpose of the web pagees I will give you a glossary of the reporting numbers used from 1960 onwards when the letter system was first introduced.'
Now this is something well worth waiting for…
Ed's invaluable contribution will be announced in due course - WATCH THIS SPACE!
The input by enthusiasts like Ed Chaplin makes the compilation of this site so worthwhile; the content of the site ranges from pure slapstick to serious study of the subject, however in view of the diversity of our hobby the question to ponder is just how far should we go? Where I think the hobby is needlessly off-putting is when we take the subject of trains and railways - and ourselves - soooo seriously!
A case in point is the scholarly email I received from an enthusiast 'in the know'. I presumed he was 'in the know' because he snobbishly deployed words and phrases to make it sound as though he was smarter than anyone else. Okay, he seemed to know what he was talking about, but the way he rubbished the elementary content of this site put me off completely.
The aim of the website is not to bamboozle, rather to entertain as well as inform...the idea is to tell the story of 'trains, train spotting and the meaning of life' in an honest and straightforward way so that it can be understood and enjoyed by everyone.
Okay, mistakes are bound to crop up here and there...this hobby of ours is extremely complex and often full of contradictions, therefore if you do find any errors I'll willingly put them right. This is especially important since many visitors use the Internet as a source of reference and so it is essential to get the facts right. Among the most prolific contributors is ex-BR Fleet Engineer, Vic Smith, who has been a big help over the years...
My thanks to everyone concerned.
(Right) Announcing a new page of spotting memories from the 1950s and 1960s featuring the spectacular railway photographs from Mike Claxton's superb website www.railpictorial.com - a site dedicated to the memory of his brother Paul, who sadly passed away in April, 2009.
Paul began train spotting at a very early age, and like most young boys during the late 1950s he started taking railway photographs, a natural adjunct to train spotting. To give credit where it is due, Mike has worked hard in creating this website for the simple reason that it gives enthusiasts a chance to enjoy his late brother's photographic collection online...and what a collection it is! Rarely have I see such quality and in such high numbers on one website - 7,500 images and counting! This is a private glimpse into Paul's negatives of steam days as he saw it during the 1960s. Needless to say, I am a big fan and a visit to Mike's site is highly recommended. Click on photo-link (right) to visit the new page...
(Below) The 'Pilot Scheme Diesels 1' page has been updated, or perhaps I should say it's been revised since the content is the same, but new photos have been added. The page gives some idea of the different locomotives ordered in the British Transport Commission's (BTC's) 1955 Modernisation Plan. After the plan was announced, the initial order for pilot scheme locomotives was followed by orders for basically similar locos in the production fleet, which gave rise to many generic types for what was intended to be a fleet of a standard classes. The Brush A1A-A1A fell into the 'Type 2' category and was largely modelled on the 25 locomotives built for the Ceylon Government Railways, with the six-wheeled bogies (the inner pair were unpowered) altered to British standard gauge. The bogie combined a leaf and helical springing to improve suspension and ease the axle load, which gave the locomotive the widest possible route availability throughout the BR network. Still in brown undercoat, the first of the company's twenty pilot scheme Type 2, No D5500, is on a test run from Derby to Chinley on October 10th 1957. The test equipment was sited in one end cab hence the locomotive had to be turned on the Chinley turntable before returning to Derby. Click HERE to visit the revised page.
(Right-Below) Following the success of Richard Greenwood's 'Up North in Colour' on page 53, I am pleased to announce a follow-up page appropriately named 'Down South in Colour' on page 87. Richard first encountered Southern steam at London Victoria during a school trip to Switzerland in 1953 when he saw Bulleid Light Pacifics and, on one occasion, the up Night Ferry.
In 1961, Richard attended the old Gibson and Weldon cramming college at Guildford in readiness for sitting the Law Society finals examinations. The course lasted from 31 May until the end of October, which gave Richard his first chance to photograph BR Southern Region steam in colour. From his digs he passed the station and shed en route to lectures and every Wednesday afternoon plus weekends were free. During this time he took well over 500 black and white photographs and some 150 colour slides, including this shot below of H class 31521 on a motor train for Tunbridge Wells and Oxted. Perutz had just introduced their new colour slide film which was faster than others available. It yielded pleasant images and although the pictures have suffered from colour-degrading over fifty years, auto colour correction in Photoshop has brought them back to their original quality... The results are well worth a visit. We begin the page with photos taken in May 1961 through to October, but we are only halfway through! Still to come - 1962! Watch this space for further updates...superb! Click here to visit Richard's new page....
(Above-Right) Meanwhile Geoff Burch's page has been updated courtesy of Rae Woodford (a fellow fireman at Guildford shed) who has kindly allowed Geoff to publish some classic SR photos from his collection, including this one (above) of 'N' Class 31862 at Ash Junction in May 1960.
The photographer is railwayman, E.C Griffith, who was based at Farnham. Click here to visit Geoff's updated page 32.
Also I must mention some of the new pages on this site, starting with Roy Lambeth's 'Steam on Shed' and 'BR Railtour' stories which can now be found on three 'Rail Camerman' pages 61-63.
Similarly, John Stoddart's witty anecdotes in his 'Lines Through a Life' and 'Steam Heaven, Scotland 1964' have been added to pages 71-72; indeed all twenty two Rail Cameramen are now featured together on pages 52-74.
Mention must also be made of Fred Wagstaff's rum stories from the footplate and his railing against authority - 'they-don't-like-it-up-em, you know!'
His tale begins during steam days at South Blyth Shed through dieselisation to ECML electrification; all are now grouped together on five pages 76-80, whilst Phil Hodgett's superb 'Cowpen & Blyth' page and Ed Orwin's 'Blyth Station' model railway project can now be found on pages 83-85.
Other recently updated pages include 'Barry Hilton's BR Railway Roundabout 1' on page 86 plus the 'Train Spotting 2' page 5 features pages from Jim Oakley's spotting notebook showing the locos he spotted during visits with the Nothern Railfans Club to the ScR. The tour began with a visit to Motherwell (66B) followed by Hamilton (66C); Kipps (65E); Parkhead (65C); St Rollox (65B); Polmadie (66A); Eastfield (65A); Dawsholme (65D); Yoker (65G); Cockerhill (67A) and Greenock (66D) ...indeed, this trip produced the most 'cops' he'd ever had in one day - 663 in all! Jim's notebook is a veritable snapshot in time.
(Above-Below) The 'Doncaster' Page 7 and 'Tebay, Lune Valley & Shap' Page 13 have been updated with excerpts from Mike Claxton's www.railpictorial.com, a superb website dedicated to the memory of his brother Paul, who sadly passed away in April, 2009. Mike has created the 'Paul Claxton Collection' so that enthusiasts can enjoy his late brother's extensive range of railway photographs online - and what a collection it is! Rarely have I see such quality and in such high numbers on one website - currently standing at 7,800 images and counting!
Needless to say, I am a big fan and a visit is highly recommended. However, should you download copies of any of Paul's photographs then it would be appreciated if you would make a donation to the Trinity House Hospice, Blackpool who cared for Paul in his fight against cancer. A click-on link is available on Mike's site...it only takes a couple of minutes!
Click here to visit the Tebay page and Click here to visit the Doncaster page.
(Below) I make no secret of the fact that I disliked the Rail Blue era…BR's new Corporate Identity Scheme effectively removed all last traces of any individual character from our railways. Odd then, some forty-years later...the Rail Blue diesel era now looks strangely appealing! You'll find lots of colour shots on Trevor Ermel's page, including many featuring Class 55s working the East Coast Main Line out of Kings Cross during the 1970s. Trevor photographed this scene (below) of passengers alighting from a Bishop Auckland DMU at the north end of Darlington station, whilst Class 55 No 55017 departs with a northbound express on 16th August 1975. Trevor's reconnaissance with a camera includes a fine selection of colour photos of trains both at home and abroad - a visit to his page is a definite must here
(Above) Four additional 'before-after photos' have been posted on the 'BR Rail Photo Workshop page 75. I mention it here because image manipulation - or, as I prefer to call it, photo enhancement - is often frowned upon by the old school.
One of the biggest concerns is the way it is misused by the fashion industry; it raises the issue of ethics and how far you can push the boundaries of digital image manipulation, such as tweaking a pencil-thin model's body shape or removing an unsightly spot, and still maintain an acceptable level of integrity.
For example, photo manipulation creates an illusion, which, by its very nature is a deception, yet Adobe Photoshop is a wonderful graphics programme - a veritable computer darkroom - all of which supplies every conceivable tool you need to work on a picture...and this includes repairing old photographs too. Click here to find out more...
(Above-Below) All in all, the pages on this site are very much 'work in progress...including daily updates, plus several new pages have been added or are currently in the planning stage. Where will it all end? Well, just as long as you keep on visiting we'll keep on updating...this includes another recent update of Rail Cameraman, Richard Greenwood's 'Up North in Colour' page HERE.
When Richard first selected the colour slides for his page, he concentrated on interest and quality rather than telling a story, certainly not a full story. So some classes were neglected, represented by just one shot even when there were other images possibly worthy of inclusion.
So to rectify matters a postscript has now been added with a few more photos, which, for one reason or another, missed the first 'cut'. Richard made an arbitrary but reasonable decision that anything north of Birmingham should be considered 'Up North', and of course 'Down South' (to us Northeners) is beyond Birmingham. This has allowed the inclusion a small selection of GW locos on the page as the GW ran to Birkenhead and, at one time, had through workings to Manchester Exchange. Here is a view of Chester General on 23 August 1960, with 'Castle' class loco 5089 Westminster Abbey which had worked a through train from Paddington. (Below) Shrewsbury was where the many summer holiday extras from the North West to Devon and Cornwall resorts changed engines for Western Region locos. Here two northbound extras are ready to depart after the WR locos had been taken off, however to find a Class 6P5F Crab No 42859 still entrusted with one of these heavy trains in 1963 was a bit of a surprise.
(Above-Below) The Doncaster Page 7 has been updated, and includes this evocative image from the NRM's archives of the Erecting shop at Doncaster 'Plant' on 8th April 1957. The National Railway Museum in York has a collection of 1¾ million photos covering the history of Britain's railways from 1850 to the present day. The NRM's archives are currently being digitalised to make them available to a wider audience and preserve them for the future - more images like these can be found on the NRM's 'Doncaster Photos' page here - a visit is highly recommended…(Below) Footplate Cameraman Jim Carter's study of both red and green Duchesses in residence at Edge Hill shed evokes memories of how things were. Click here to visit the first of three JR Carter's Rail Cameraman pages 66-68
And so it was wonderful news to hear that two expatriate Class A4s Nos 60008 and 60010 have found their way back to Britain to celebrate the 75th anniversary of their sister, 60022 Mallard, which secured the world speed crown in 1938. (Above) A4 Pacific 60008 'Dwight D Eisenhower' at Kings Cross on 15th June 1962. You can read more about the repatriated A4s on the 'Rail Centre - York' page. (Below) Full marks to the NRM, for it is due to the sterling efforts of the staff at the National Railway Museum at York that the A4 duo are now back on home soil. The museum not only houses the largest collection of railway objects in the world, but admission is absolutely free - a good excuse to take the Missus and kids for a brilliant day out! Click here to visit the excellent NRM website.
(Above) Railway photographers are creatures of habit, invariably taking the traditional three-quarter shot a train to the exclusion of almost everything else in the surroundings. However, this ER Morten shot of Johnson Midland Class 3F 0-6-0 No 43612 at Gowhole Sidings with a heavy goods train on 21 April 1951 is refreshingly different since it shows the hustle and bustle of a busy railway yard chock-a-block with various loose-coupled freights. With a tractive effort of just 21,010lbs and weighing no more 43 tons, the Class 3F will require the help of a banker and the provision of four brake vans to assist the engine crew over the steeply-graded Peak Forest route to Rowsley.
(Below...three pics) With the onset of dieselisation some 10-odd years later, the new generation of rail cameramen faced the task of making their pictures more interesting - photos of diesels on their own are nowhere near as photogenic as those of steam - hence the inclination to embrace more of the railway infrastructure or surrounding scenery as shown in this shot of the upper Aire Valley line at Steeton between Keighley and Skipton in the 1960s. Beneath it are two more: Aller Junction at Exeter and Slaithwaite near Huddersfield. Whatever the difference in photo-technique, however, the results are exactly the same - it records the railway scene for posterity.
NEW SILVER SURFER TO THE INTERNET? HERE'S A FEW TIPS...
(Left-Right) A warm welcome to the growing band of 'Silver Surfers' new to the Internet. You're never too old to learn. Harking back to the old days before the world wide web (www) was launched in 1989, there was nothing I liked better than browsing through the pages of old issues of 'Railway Magazine' and 'Trains Illustrated'.
Odd then, that it took me so long to surf one of the largest railway archives in the world on the Internet. I didn't start until 2007 - and although I found the 'drag and click mouse' jargon a bit baffling at first, once I got going it was great to log on and search through the thousands of railway sites.
Trouble is, surfing the 'communications super highway' is a daunting task unless you know what you're doing. Over the years, the world wide web has become a victim of its own success, and the information overload - the sheer volume of material it contains - can take a lot of digesting.
For the first-time 'Silver Surfer', the World Wide Web is a fantastic communications tool that allows people from all over the world to keep in touch via the miracle of electronic maill; it provides a wonderful opportunity to meet some really interesting people online…
I say meet, you don't actually meet anyone in person, of course, we exist only in one another's hermitically-sealed world of cyberspace and exchange greetings on a keyboard.
Indeed there is something liberating about being online, particularly for the elderly whose mental agility might be impaired by advancing years. As you get older the mind can play the daftest tricks and often when I'm in a deep meaningful conversation with someone my mind is like a waste paper bin overflowing with unfinished sentences because I've forgotten a particular name or word and can't remember what I am about to say next!
In the most severe cases this missing word may take days, even weeks before I can retrieve it, but by then it's too late - I have no use for a word like 'Steam Cock' when I'm queuing in a supermarket.
However, this lapse in concentration never happens to me online, but even if it did I still have the aid of a spell checker and thesaurus. Plus the 'save-draft' option is very useful as it allows me to take as long as I like to communicate via an email without lulling the recipient into a comatose state because my mind is a total blank.
Mind you I rarely get the chance to meet up personally, as David Platt and I did recently at Birch Services on the M62 - just a pair of old geezers gassing about trains, a subject very close to both our hearts.
Between infuriating long pauses, I was thinking about something quite different at the time; I was trying to remember if I'd left the immersion heater on at home - it turns out that David is something of an expert on railway jigsaw puzzles and has created a new website dedicated to the subject - click here for link. The site includes an illustration of a painting I did (left) for the Rocket 150 Celebrations at Rainhill in 1980, which was reproduced as a jigsaw puzzle along with 'Lion at Rainhill' (below). David is also the author of a book - 'Steam Trains and Jigsaw Puzzles'.
RAILWAY ART GALLERY
Whilst on the subject of railway art, I have recently been contacted by 76 year-old Alan Shillum, an ex-Daily Mirror reporter, news editor, finally managing editor, who since retirement on Mersea Island in Essex, has taken up art as a hobby in a variety of mediums and subjects.
This superb pencil drawing 'Good Companions' (below) was inspired by a Jim Carter photo that Alan found on this website. Measuring 18"x12" the drawing was done in 2b,3b,4b pencils on white picture mount card.
Harking back to his childhood days as a train spotter, Alan writes - 'I am still learning (art) and have a go at steam locomotives from time to time because to me they are aesthetically the perfect marriage of form and function. They are also a great challenge...'
....and very worthwhile, I must say...creative work takes a long time and a great deal of patience, but the results are very rewarding; indeed if anyone else is creating pictures of British trains and railways in oils, water colours, pen line, pencil or charcoal etc - I will be delighted to post them on this site for the whole world to see. My email address is at the bottom of the page...
SOUTH AFRICAN STEAM by Craig Duncan
Born in Inverness, Scotland - and proud of his Scottish birth - Craig Duncan now lives in South Africa; he writes...
After inheriting a small box of oil paints in 1978 I began to dabble. I found the discipline of oil painting captivating and began to explore the techniques of composition, perspective, colour mixing, brush control, textures and so on. It was natural that my lifelong interest in railways would soon marry to this newfound medium of expression. Although my first painting was reasonably successful later critical analysis would reveal its flaws such as brush control being too tight etc. This painting now survives 6000 miles away in Earby, Yorkshire!
As paintings started to flow from the easel some seemed worthy of framing. Eventually I would have standing orders with wholesale framing suppliers from where the materials would be transported home, mitred in the workshop and then assembled on a table tennis top in the playroom; almost a home industry. The house soon became a personal art gallery and thankfully appreciated by my wife. In fact we developed a routine whereby she studied while I painted and the studio would reek of turpentine and pipe tobacco.
In mid-March 1991 I received a fax from a friend with an attached entry form for a forthcoming exhibition titled 'Brush with Steam' to be held at the prestigious Total Art Gallery in Johannesburg. A maximum of six paintings could be submitted from which selections, if any, would be made. Those dreaded words 'Curriculum Vitae' was also a condition. So these would all be professional artists but even worse it would be hosted by David Shepherd, someone who everybody had heard of; but only my wife had heard of Craig Duncan. With only a red face to be gained I plucked six paintings off the wall and, together with the required documentation, quickly dropped them off at the Transnet selection room haunted by those misgivings 'Am I out of my depth? 'and 'Is my framing up to exhibition standards?'
To my shock I was only one of two artists to have all six selected for showing, the other one being a well known TV personality renowned for his works. The exhibition was held June 4-18 1991 and there were 53 paintings on show representing 27 artists. On the opening night it was strange to see one's work hanging on alien walls and in exalted company; even appearing in a television programme which my wife would record.
The favourable media reports about my work was a great boost and so I decided to contact all exhibitors with a view to forming a society that would promote railway art in South Africa. I had a brief discussion with David Shepherd during a steam festival and exhibition at Kimberley in early August 1991 and on the 12th October an inaugural meeting was held.
After much help from the Guild of Railway Artists in the UK in drawing up a constitution we held our first general meeting on 29th February 1992 during which I was elected Chairman. And so the Guild of Railway Artists of Southern Africa was born. On 20th July 1992 we were granted affiliation to the GRA in the UK. We had 40 members and began to organize exhibitions in various parts of the country.
Amid all this on the 18th June my wife met a tragic death. For me this proved to be a completely demoralizing factor and with the impetus gone my brushes fell still and the Guild would fold as quickly as it had begun.
However a few years ago I decided to dust down the easel and add my own version to a couple of black and white photos. Surprisingly it all came flooding back and I found that I had produced two of my best ever paintings, and in double quick time. It proved that a leopard never lose its spots.
Another lesson learned over time is that we are our own biggest critics and the perfect painting forever lies a bridge too far. Of some 50 paintings produced over the years 17 were commissions or sales. Belgian canvas was stretched on 20x45 mm mitred supports. Occasionally the canvas would require dampening to obtain a drum tight surface, but without a cropper and underpinner I found production of the outer frames somewhat time-consuming. Some of the recipients still express their pleasure which tends to suppress the inner demons that can lie within an artist...
(Above Left) The embryo stage for many of my paintings. I would sometimes uplift using a rule or sometimes a pantograph then sketch further detail on the canvas. All paintings have a canvas size of approximately 600 X 900mm.
(Above-Below) Germinston Depot...many hours were spent at this location. I had a two-monthly renewable permit and have noted 200 steam locomotives during my Sunday visits there. The positioning of the pole was deliberate to cock a snoot at the purists. Most of my paintings bear an engraved brass plaque denoting the title. (Belw) These were the feeding troughs for the monsters. Coal trucks were taken up the incline and the contents emptied into hoppers from which chutes would discharge into waiting lines of engines on both sides of the dock.
(Above-Below) Free State freight. Two 25NC's hit a straight line grade in the Free State. A trail of smoke could be seen from miles away and seemingly hang forever in the still and cold morning sky. (Below) A montage to pay tribute to the drivers and firemen who were the masters of their beasts. I have driven some, albeit for short distances, hence my admiration and esteem.
(Above-Below) This painting of a morning train leaving Bloemfontein met a sad end. It was damaged beyond repair when trying to remount it. So all I have is a photograph...sound familiar? (Below) 'Lady of the Loch' was the title on the engraved plaque added after I had framed it. Another gift to lifelong friends, it represents the pier end at Balloch, Loch Lomond and is a deviation from the normal railway subjects.
LIVERPOOL MEMORIES by Don Fogg
Don Fogg is another artist to make contact; he writes...
'Hi David, I have spent many happy nostalgic hours perusing your site, I was a train spotter from about 1958 at Edge Hill (8A) in Liverpool before moving to aviation in the Sixties but remain besotted by steam locos, ships and old aeroplanes. We have lived in Adelaide South Australia since 1983. I'm a teacher of Art and Special Ed. I enjoy the tantalising glimpses of your artwork - you should display more. I have been doing some pencil drawings of locos lately and have been using the web for reference. I am therefore asking you if you mind me using your pics as reference for my drawings. I'm not sure what I'll do with them but I have to get it out of my system (you probably know that feeling). I'm working on a fairly small format at present so I can scan them if you would like a look. I love the grimy Black 5s and workhorses (even Jinties) especially in tunnels or stations, very atmospheric. It takes me back to cycling from my home in Wavertree to Exchange station to see if the Glasgow arrival was hauled by a 'Brit'. I wish I'd had a camera! Happy Days! Keep up the fabulous work. Regards, Don Fogg...'
Well, true to his word Don has sent two drawings: 'Edge Hill Tunnels' and 'Sheds', both pencil with gouache highlights on tinted paper measuring 21cm square....
Are there any more artists out there?
I'll be pleased to post your railway art here...
(Below) I do get one or two complaints from older visitors who've 'clicked-on' a link to this collection and find that it takes a long time to download.
The reason why some pages are slow is because of their huge size.
For example, if you 'click-on' a webpage containing text only it is much easier to load than a webpage of photos since it takes much longer to transmit. Many websites avoid this is by limiting the number of images. However, this website is primarily a collection of photographs and so what you are actually opening are pages full of images of steam days…
So please be patient!
Indeed if you like these pages then why not bookmark them? Or if you're using Internet Explorer add them to your favourite list…I'm sure it will make your next visit a whole lot easier. Happy surfing!
I received an email recently from a 70 year-old ex-railwayman seeking advice on caption writing; he was planning on self-publishing his memoirs (one of the advantages of today's digital age is that it offers plenty of opprtunities to produce a short print run and a lot of people are jotting down their memories with a view to publishing a private family album). He said that writing down his memories was the easiest part, but he was struggling with captions. Well, writing interesting photo captions is not a simple task; the content of a photo is usually all about the loco, which is fair enough. A locomotive is invariably an integral part of the composition, hence a simple formula for captions usually goes something like - engine-train-location-date - which is fine, but hardly what you would call attention-grabbing.
Trouble is the subject of trains and railways is almost impossible to delineate because there are millions of enthusiasts out there, each with their own diverse interests - and all with varying levels of expertise. This makes it doubly difficult to write something to suit everyone. The trick is to describe something that is not actually in the photo, which may require a wee bit of background research...
This brings me to the wonder of the World Wide Web. Now there has been a lot of bad press lately concerning the harmful effects of the Internet. I'm talking about the rise in cyber crime and bullying trolls, and in particular there is a lot of criticism about the way the Internet provides access to evil child pornography and other online extremism. This was brought to a head recently when Sir James Mulby, the country's most senior family law judge, commented...
'The Internet allows anyone, effectively at the click of a mouse, to publish whatever they wish. The consequence is that the Internet is awash with material couched in the most exaggerated, extreme, offensive and often defamatory terms, much of which has only tenuous connection with objectively verifiable truth.'
Strong words indeed, but he does have a point.
However we must not forget that there is also a fantastic amount of good things to be found on the Internet. It gives everyone super-quick access to every subject under the sun, which, for serious railway enthusiasts is a real boon, and for those writing their memoirs for the grandchildren it provides a wealth of information that will help authenticate even the fuzziest facts and figures.
Of course, this new-fangled 'click' and search technique is completely alien to the first-time silver surfers, who've probably spent their whole lives traipsing back and forth to and from the public library scouring for books and think the Internet is far too complicated for them to master. Oh, but master it they will in the long run...
SITE UPDATES! (Left-Below) Having recently purchased a Zennox Negative Scanner from a mail order catalogue (for less than fifty quid!) I'm making a start on trying to resuscitate some 50 year-old negatives which have never been printed and are like ghosts from the past crying out to be exhumed (digitalized).
Over the years the 35mm negative strips have been kept in their original sleeves and are as good as new, though quite a few seem to have been 'got at' by a mysterious fungus, including this one of an unidentified EE Type 4 at Connonley between Skipton and Keighley in March 1961.
This image was taken just a few weeks before the introduction of Type 4 diesels on the Anglo-Scottish expresses north of Leeds; it records a brief period of our railway history therefore it must be worth saving if only for old time's sake. Back in the spring of 1961, BR introduced a crew training programme involving footplate staff at Leeds Holbeck and using 'Peak' class locos between Leeds and Appleby, but on occasions EE Co Type 4s were employed.
Now it has to be said that uploading an inferior photo onto the front page is hardly a ringing endorsement of the quality to be found on the rest of ther site, but it does illustrate the effort that goes into reviving old photos in a digital format (see Page 75 here) which otherwise wouldn't get a look in on the web.
(Below) The marvel of the Internet! Whilst the World Wide Web allows you to wallow in unashamed nostalgia for the old days, it also brings you bang up to date with current goings-on...for example (below) even before the Railway Touring Company's 07-12 Crewe-Scarborough (1Z64) 'Scarborough Flyer' had reached its destination on September 3rd 2010, pictures of the train were already winging their way around the world. In the midst of delightful Pennine scenery at Diggle, Phil Spencer captures the scene of No 6233 Duchess of Sutherland seeking refuge in the goods loop beside the Huddersfield Narrow Canal. The driver is awaiting the passage of a First TransPennine Express (FTPE) before rejoining the main line a few yards short of Standedge Tunnel.
LINKS TO BRITISH RAILWAYS REGIONS
Click photos below to visit the relevant web page.
Click on photo-links (below) for NOSTALGIA FOR THE OLD DAYS
A Silver Surfer's trip down memory lane...
THE FIRST GENERATION DIESELS
BR's Modernisation Plan didn't effect everyone. The 1960's spotting community was made up of countless thousands of youngsters, who, by virtue of their youth had no way of knowing what had gone before, so with the introduction of charismatic diesels like the 'Peaks', 'Deltics', 'Warships' and 'Westerns', the end of steam mattered little to them - and, if truth be told, even die-hard steam enthusiasts had to admire the performances of the new diesels. At the same time, BRs decision to name diesel locomotives was a commendable policy. The fitting of bodyside nameplates and, in some cases ornamental regimental crests, upheld a tradition going back donkey's years which added a certain panache to the new diesel fleet.
THE SECOND GENERATION DIESELS
By 1965, BR's diesel fleet entered the much-maligned era of the 'Corporate Identity Programme' and the newly-formed British Rail Board (BRB) decreed that everything had to conform to a given standard. The BRB's design panel advised British Rail on the best means of attaining a high level of appearance by introducing a new livery for diesel and electric locomotives, passenger coaches, freightliner rolling stock and ships, along with the use of a new barbed wire logo, based upon the idea of two-way traffic movement. The diesel fleet's unimaginative colour scheme (devoid of a two-tone livery and bodyside lining) wasn't helped by the BRB's strict policy forbidding any concession to livery changes, which deprived depot staff of any incentive to take a pride in their particular traction, and it wasn't until the late 1980's that the BRB finally adopted a more enlightening approach for its newly-launched Regional Services and Sectors.
AROUND THE REGIONS - STEAM DAYS
LOST AND FOUND! This site receives a lot of requests for photos and enquiries from visitors seeking information on trains and railway, but since I can't deal with them all myself I've launched a new 'Help' facility to help broaden your own search to a worldwide audience. Over the years, more and more visitors to this site are using the 'Guest Book' page in their search for information, and I am happy to oblige. If you are seeking assistance in your own search then visit the Guest Book page, but please include your email address in the message and deal with it yourself. I am not in the business of brokering any deals, nor am I an Estate Agent...some wag recently posted a house for sale - cheeky! But the facility has produced a result! Regular visitors to this site might recall Adam Parker contacting the Guest Book Page seeking information on a number of railway photos that he unwittingly became the custodian of. In fact, had it not been for Adam taking them under his wing the whole lot would have ended up on a bonfire! It was a most interesting story, and one I was happy to feature on the 'BR London Midland Region' page. Click here for link to 'Adam Parker's Album of Found Photos'. Since the appeal went out on the LMR page Adam has been contacted by the photographer, Richard Courtney and the material has been returned to the rightful owner...the wonder of the Internet - and ten out of ten to Adam for successfully tracking Richard down. It reaffirms one's faith in human nature...
Being a relatively newcomer to the web (better late than never, they say) the whole point of the collection is to try and build the best website possible and give something back to the community. At the same time I was keen to learn something about digitally enhancing old photos, such as 'burning' and 'dodging', sharpening, improving brightness and contrast, and removing spots or other unsightly blemishes. I began by practising in Adobe Photoshop; a powerful graphics tool that is used by cutting-edge designers who work at the sharp point in a studio, but since I have only modest ability, it is more like a computer darkroom that contains all the tools needed to work on old photographs - and, rather like a small boy rummaging in a toy cupboard, it allows me to zoom-in to a single pixel. I'm bound to get up close and personal with all photographers' work!
If you would like to contribute to the website I'll be pleased to include your spotting reminiscences from steam days, but be warned - the seasoned spotter can spot a 'porky' a mile off, so embellishing your story with fictional flourishes is hardly convincing.
That's because train spotting captured the hearts of thousands of boys during the less-worldly Fifties, and although most of us are well past our prime (and forgotten what we did two minutes ago) the ageing process is surprisingly kind in another way. In the glow of memory we only remember the good stuff, so our spotting memories are bound to be mired in sentimentality.
On the other hand, critics would argue that writing a personal account of 'bunking' sheds and chasing 'cops' is seldom illuminating or remarkable because all you are doing is regurgitating old anecdotes, which, by the very nature of the hobby, are exactly the same as everyone else's...RUBBISH! Call me an old-fashioned day dreamer, but any memory of bygone days is better than none. Just send me a favourite old photo accompanied by a meaningful caption and it will give visitors to this site a chance of escaping the grim reality of today's modern world...
On a final note, the most popular idols back in the Fifties were the comic 'cape crusaders' Spiderman, Batman or Superman, together with the Hollywood cowboy stars: Hopalong Cassidy, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and the Lone Ranger.
PLEASE NOTE - IMAGES FROM THIS SITE SHOULD NOT BE PUBLISHED ELSEWHERE ON THE WEB WITHOUT THE PRIOR CONSENT OF THE RIGHTFUL COPYRIGHT OWNERS. IF YOU WISH TO USE A PICTURE ON THE WEB THEN YOU MUST ASK FIRST. A GOOD FIRST STEP IS TO MAKE CONTACT VIA THE E-MAIL ADDRESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE. YOU ONLY HAVE TO ASK...PERMISSION IS RARELY REFUSED, A RECIPROCAL LINK TO THIS SITE IS USUALLY THE CASE.
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