My interest in the steam locomotive was never that of a number collector, but rather that of an engineer, fascinated by it’s mechanics and drawn also to a “living” machine. Which, once I had obtained a camera capable of recording fast moving trains, possibly in conditions of poor light, lead to visiting the railway scene when other commitments allowed. I began to take the interest seriously far too late to record classes that were withdrawn in the early years of nationalisation and realised too late how near the end of steam was approaching.
I began photography with a large format camera and was never happy with 35mm until colour was generally available and much later in life when digital images became the norm. So a Rollieflex Automat, purchased new in 1953 was my almost invariable choice for general work, giving me the larger negatives that I preferred and naturally processed myself. The downside was the lack of a longer focus lens.
Visits to Birmingham New street were always rewarding, as many varied view points were available, more so than at Snow hill, but the most exciting venue was undoubtedly Grantham on a summer Saturday, with the certainty of seeing well over a hundred Pacifics in six hours; limited in variety of types, perhaps, but greatly enjoyable. This was only one place where on Holiday Saturdays a wealth of steam could be seen and photographed. I worked in central Birmingham, but regrettably, as the work was of a classified nature, cameras were not permitted in the office. I missed much at New Street in the lunch times.
Like most people I had a stronger liking for some parts of the BR network more than others. Growing up and living in the Birmingham area both the LMS and GWR had a strong appeal, but my first sight and sound of an A3 and later the other Pacifics, left an indelible and lasting impression. I knew nothing of the Southern and when I did occasionally visit the area, the engines did not have the same appeal as those of other regions. Given only one choice it would be the Great Western, since arguably Swindon lead the way in sound engineering applied to the steam locomotive.
Arthur W Cundall