My railway interest started at an early age – my walk to primary school in 1945/46 involved crossing the GWR mainline by the road bridge at Newbury station; for many years I was accused of a stubborn refusal to leave said bridge until at least one train had passed.
In the Fifties, home was in West Cumberland but school was of the Boarding variety, in West Sussex. “Spotting” activities were thus a little constrained but with highspots such as D3, C2X, K and E4 on the electrified Mid Sussex line and branches, and Furness and LNW 0-6-0s working from Workington and Moor Row sheds in the home area.
On leaving school in 1957, I elected to join the Southern Region of B.R. as its attitude towards passenger services seemed enlightened compared with that of the LM Region and so embarked on some years of lodging in locations such as Reading, South London and Portsmouth. A university place beckoned but I sought to defer that and to concentrate on “track bashing” before too many priceless specimens disappeared. At that time I think most of us had little idea of the severity of what was to come as the 60s progressed!
I am so pleased to have been able to experience gems such as the M&GN system, the MSWJ, branches to Monmouth, J15s in Essex, the Coniston branch and so on. What I do regret is the limit on photography imposed by the costs of lodging, of travel even at BR staff rate and, before too long, the costs of discovering the opposite sex.
At this time photography came in a poor third, even though selective use of one’s free pass allocation helped both spotting and track bashing by exploitation of “permitted routes” – for example a pass from London to Whitehaven could be used on the ECML to Newcastle and thence via Carlisle, by the Midland main line to Carlisle, or via Leeds and Lancaster/Carnforth, via Manchester (Mid and GC) as well as from Euston via Carlisle or Barrow.
I worked for BR for 35 years and benefited from the excellent Management Training scheme which I joined as an internal candidate from Public Relations. The majority of my time was spent in the London area and latterly South Wales (and in Ghana and Colombia in consultancy roles) in a variety of activities from Marshalling Yard management through various Project roles, Marketing to Business Management. – posts traditionally labelled “Commercial”. I was lucky enough to be able to travel the system extensively “on duty” – sadly most of this after steam had finished.
I developed little interest in “new generation” traction from a photographic point of view. The result is a collection which is limited in numbers but evokes many distinct memories