John is a native of Stratford upon Avon and grew up in the town during the fifties and early sixties. At that time the ex GWR route carried a wide variety of traffic and the ex SMJ route underwent a major alteration that created a lot of new photographic opportunities. He started photographing trains in 1956 using simple box cameras. Most of those early negatives were deemed too crude by self inflicted standards in the mid sixties and were unfortunately destroyed.
The negatives that remain date from 1959 and were taken firstly on a “Purma Plus” camera that produced 16 nearly square negatives on 127 size film and from around 1961 he used an “Agfa Record 3” bellows camera that produced 8 large format negatives on 120 size film. Due to financial constraints first choice of film was any cheap outdated stock that could be obtained but later Tri X or FP3 were normally used depending on time of year. The vast majority of the 120 films were developed in Promicrol or Microphen chemicals.
John, together with a number of other local teenaged enthusiasts, was greatly influenced by the work of Stratford photographer T E (Tom) Williams who had been recording the railway scene locally since just after the war. Tom was a member of several railway photographic portfolio groups and would often show off the latest work he had received for viewing from other well known railway photographers including Maurice Early, Dick Blenkinsop and R C Riley. The majority of John’s images were taken in Warwickshire and adjoining counties with the odd excursion to Swindon Works or the Southern Region. As posters went up advertising the closure of many Midlands and Cotswold lines he managed at least one visit to most of them to record the final weeks of operation.
Colour work (not available on the site as yet) using both Kodachrome and the infamous Agfa CT18 film commenced in 1961 with an “Arette” 35mm rangefinder camera.
John is an archivist for any material including personal interviews and contemporary records of the former Stratford upon Avon and Midland Junction Railway and regularly lectures on the history of that company.
Like many of his contemporaries John took a break from railway photography due to career and family pressures during the 1970’s but resumed activities in the 1980’s on overseas subjects. Since then he has visited over fifty countries in pursuit of steam and is particularly interested in Latin American narrow gauge systems. He also models 3’ gauge North American prototypes in G scale.
John is the author of a number of short profiles on the Railway History of the Stratford upon Avon area including one that describes many of the locations depicted in his photographs. These are available free of charge for personal use to any fellow enthusiast.