Which active interest came first in me, photography or railways, I cannot now remember. It was possibly the former, although it probably rekindled the earlier of my interests which, as with most of us, started when very young. I spent school holidays at Newark and my earliest railway impressions were of apple green Pacifics and Atlantics at Kings Cross, with the occasional thrilling glimpse of a silver A4. It was always essential to arrive early so that time could be spent at the end of the platform wondering what would emerge tender first from the gloom of Gasworks tunnel to take us North.
Eight years ago I bought a 35 mm camera and immediately I was involved in a hobby which was potentially all-absorbing. I took endless photographs of trains, mostly too soon or too late, out of focus or with the wrong shutter speed. But my attempts at some sort of composition, combined with improving negative and dark room techniques, started to produce a few prints, which pictorially, were acceptable. A benevolent and tolerant British Railways produced Iineside passes which improved my scope but the diminishing number of steam locomotives, of increasingly grubby countenance, operating under English weather conditions, increased the odds against getting a good picture to an unacceptable level. It is amazing how the one single cloud in an otherwise cloudless sky obscures the sun just as you are about to record the picture of a lifetime!
Little by little, while I still took conventional photographs I also experimented with other ways of recording impressions of steam locomotives. Running sheds and stations became the biggest source of picture material. I found in such locations the necessary movement and human activity to make photography exciting, both pictorially and journalistically.
Everyday steam has disappeared from the English scene and out of it all, I have a few photographs of something which probably made a greater contribution to the social and commercial prosperity of this country than any other invention. I hope that these photographs impart some of the enjoyment I have had from my camera and the subject.
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