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Home / Photographers / Donald Robertson

Donald Robertson

See the collection

My interest in railways started in 1943 with the purchase of a set of ABC Locomotive Series booklets.  These accompanied me on the pastime of most of my school friends ie engine spotting.  At the time I was a pupil at Leigh Grammar School in Lancashire.  This area and period was one of the best for quantity and variety of locomotives to be seen, particularly pre-grouping types.  The half-price children’s rail fares gave us wide-ranging rail trips to many locations and engine sheds in the North of England.  One favourite spot was where the WCML passed under the original L&M line near Newton-le-Willows.  Also fondly remembered were tram rides from Bolton to Horwich Locomotive Works for unofficial tours round the various shops.

The great regret is that my photography was almost non-existent during these early years as film was hard to acquire and the family camera was not up to much.  From 1948 to about 1955 my railway interests were curtailed because of studies for professional qualifications in Municipal Engineering.  Marriage came along in 1954 and, though finances were tight, my wife gave me a Kodak Retinette 35mm camera which meant that I could now turn to some local railway photography in the Melton Mowbray area.

We were without vehicular transport of our own until 1959 but I did manage some trips further afield with a car-owning colleague.  Most of these visits were to the ECML at Essendine and to some of the ironstone quarry railways in Leicestershire and Rutland.

In 1957 the family moved to Aylesbury and so the locations changed to the WCML and local lines.  At this time I became interested in photographing cast-iron railway signs; at the time they were disappearing fast as lines were closed and standardisation closed in. The end came to my railway picture taking with the demise of steam.  My interest has lived on in my collection of railway and canal books and ephemera, visits to, and photographing of, preserved lines, and my 16mm-gauge steam model garden railway complete with an ironstone railway locomotive and trucks.

I am now 82 and have so many and varied railway memories, and it gives me great pleasure to have had my small collection of transport negatives and transparencies taken into the care of The Transport Treasury and I hope that you might find something of interest among them.

Donald Robertson
July 2012