From Box camera to Halina
As soon as I realised that what had become a passionate interest, was soon to be no more, I looked at ways of recording the disappearing spectacle of steam on the railway before it was gone forever. The obvious route was through the family box brownie and while this was the most basic of cameras, with pretty much no control over anything, it was all that was available to this 12 year old schoolboy in 1959. The images I recorded, some of which appear in the Railway Photo Galleries on this page, were as basic as the equipment itself and will not win any favours with ‘rivet counters’. I was still very young and was only interested at that time in recording what I saw in front of me. However, I believe they have value, especially in that these are my oldest pictures and they come the closest to recording steam in its everyday, when it was to be seen in abundance.
I was already embarking on trips with the Scarborough Railway Society to railway workshops and sheds, so at the beginning I concentrated on using up my precious film on store and scrap lines, as these were full of the most endangered of the species. The thought was that there would always be plenty of B16s, B1s and V2s to photograph running in and out of Scarborough, as at the time they were 10 a penny. Unfortunately all too soon, they became gold dust.
It was nearly a year before I could afford to buy my first half decent camera, an Halina 35X, and I seem to have used at least two different box cameras during this period. Fortunately I started to photograph the more usual as my interest turned from scrap lines to working locomotives. The jump in quality from the first to last in this picture series shows that I did the right thing, quality wise at least. I am now not sure whether I prefer the atmosphere in my first ever railway picture taken in the scrapyard at North Road Darlington, recorded on a box camera in October 1969, to the more mundane three quarter station shot of a B1 at York, the first picture with my brand new Halina in August 1960.
Ten A Penny
While the regular diet of steam in my home town had little variety, fortunately I did put my new 35mm camera and free film to use recording the activities around Scarborough at the beginning of the 1960’s. These were everyday scenes at the time but thankfully I did not reserve my picture taking to just the unusual workings and rare locos as these regular scenes are now very precious to me.
The Photographic Lineside Pass
In February 1964 I acquired a one day lineside photographic pass from the public relations office at York. This gave me, and a couple of other Scarborough Railway Society members, access to lines north and south of York and west of Leeds. I cannot remember how old you needed to be to get one of these passes but I guess I must have lied about my age. These were a much more relaxed time regarding lineside access but I cannot imagine even then British Railways giving a 17 year old boy cart blanch to stroll off the end of platforms at major railway centres for the purpose of following a hobby.
As it turned out Saturday 29th February 1964 was a particularly grizzly day with the morning north of York and afternoon in Leeds spent in poor conditions for photography. The sun came out when we were south of York but not for very long. The results may not be to everyones taste but I like the overbearing gloom, which I feel suits the subject.