RAIL CAMERAMEN – A Celebration of the Rail Camera Club

Rail Cameramen records that the birth of railways pre-dates the practice of taking photographs of railway-related subjects.

However, the advent of cameras with better lenses and ones with faster shutters speeds meant enthusiasm for photographing trains increased in the latter half of the 19th century, and railway photographers became a more common sight.

Members of the Rail Camera Club take part in a signing session at the launch of The Photographic Artistry of Rail Cameramen book held at Locomotion Shildon on January 20. A further signing is being planned to take place on August 5 at the Great Central Railway, Loughborough. PETER TOWNSEND

According to the National Railway Museum, it was the formation of the Railway Photographic Society (RPS) in 1922 by Maurice Earley (MWE) – widely regarded as the finest railway photographer of the time – that was instrumental in improving the standard of railway photography.

When MWE, who had been secretary of the RPS since its inception, decided to ‘retire’ in 1976 the RPS ceased, although thanks to the efforts of Carlisle-based photographer Stephen Crook it was resurrected under a new guise, with the Rail Camera Club (RCC) circulating folio No. 1 in 1976.

Critique

Although today RCC members embrace digital photography, they continue to produce ‘real’ prints for fellow members to critique as the folios – the boxes containing members’ work – circulate around the membership. It is simply not possible to critically assess work on computer screens.

A moody picture of ‘Britannia’ No. 70046 Anzac making a steamy and noisy southbound departure from Preston’s platform 6 (now platform 4) with the morning Barrow to Crewe express on January 5, 1967. At that time the tracks in the foreground led to the L&Y side of the station, but now run south to join the WCML. PETER FITTON

While some RCC members are highly proficient in digital manipulation, it is anathema for others.

In the autumn of 2016, David Gibson, RCC’s current secretary, asked members if the circulation of the 100th folio towards the end of 2017 should be celebrated and the result was an impressive exhibition of work held at Locomotion Shildon in early-2018.

This contained inspiring images from all RCC members, past and present, supported by some early pictures from the NRM collection.

Read more and view more images in the August issue of The RM – on sale now!

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