6th April 2021 · ‘Railway Photographs from Glass Plates’

Presenter: David Postle

Adrian White*, our booked speaker for the meeting had to call off the evening before the presentation but he suggested a friend who l managed to get hold of on the morning of the meeting.

So we welcomed David Postle, Curator of The Kidderminster Railway Museum with a marvellous presentation entitled ‘Railway Photographs from Glass Plates’.

67 people logged on to this wonderful evocative show superbly presented by David. There were photos from the 1860s up to 1960s with over 200 shown.

Apart from a full size plate (12” x 10”) of Charing Cross Station the others were half or quarter plates. When you zoomed in on the full size one the detail was fantastic and you could see the fine lamp shades, signals and even the back of the Signalman’s head in close-up.

These early photographers had to take a big heavy camera, tripod and of course the glass plates with them so they tended to get settled in and stay put for a while and each one looked like they had their favourite spots. Our first shot was by Maurice Earley who was on the tender of MR 666. The oldest picture was of Lord of the Isles from the 1860s which was scrapped by 1888. There was a Bristol & Exeter Railway locomotive, MR Singles at St Pancras, a lovely shot of the first Faversham Station in 1880, this was demolished in 1897. Up to Victoria in 1865 with mixed gauge track, the GWR having running powers. Stafford Road and Bath Road Depots and Worcester Shed with Dean Goods 2325, Stratford for GER 1500, down to Cornwall for a shot of Brunel’s Tamar Bridge and one of his wooden trestle bridges with the new stone one going up alongside. Shots of Rainhill Station, then Crewe which included GWR 3230 and 0-4-0ST 3042. Earlestown Station followed by Carlisle which had LNWR, CR locos and a lovely FR 2-4-0 No. 2 and a GSWR 4-4-0. Northampton Station featured dainty Edwardian ladies, glass gas globes and milk churns.

Over in Ireland we saw a B&CDR auto trailer No.2. At Cromford was 323 and at York in 1936 was 4462 Great Snipe renamed the following year to Golden Fleece whilst Mallard was taken near Grantham. At Breadsall Crossing we saw Compound 1057, a Crab and a 2P, and we visited various locations in Derbyshire where more locos were seen along with Milford Tunnel. Then popping down to Brighton where Ivatt Class 4 3000 and a Johnson 2F were spotted. Elsewhere LNER 2-2-4 1679 and 2509 Silver Link from 1936 shots. Back at Grantham in the 30s saw an Ivatt Atlantic 442 and 4472. A great shot of LMS 0-10-0 22290 ‘Big Bertha’. Princess Anne (of the Harrow disaster) was also snapped.

We saw various Industrial locos at Stanton Ironworks, an 0-4-0VBT at Penmaenmawr, an 0-6-0 No. 2 at Clay Cross Iron Works, at Crich Limestone Quarry we saw their loco Tommy, this site is now home to the Crich Tramway Museum. Further Industrials were seen at Holyhead, Staveley Works Chesterfield, Collieries in South Wales, V of R 1213 at Aberystwyth. Down to Bournemouth West where we had an SR and GWR loco. There was a GWR Maudsley ML3 No. 907.

The classic shot of Newcastle was seen next in 1959. Two accidents were featured with cranes in shot at New Cross and Slough. A North London Rly loco followed then a nostalgic view of the Hampton Loade Ferry which has long finished, also the station and the first half was completed with a shot of Much Wenlock Station.

After tiffin we visited the Cambrian Railways with photos by H.W. Burman from 1906-12 and 0-4-4 No. 2, an Albion Class, a Sharp Stewart 0-4-4, a Pooley Van which went around the system checking the Weighing Machines, this was an ex-LNWR coach. An observation car which plied between Pwllheli and Machynlleth. Locos were seen on the Aberdovey Harbour Branch, also known as the sand siding.

An interesting shot of Barmouth Junction North SB which was designed by Dutton & Co. which was an offshoot of Mackenzie & Holland, followed by Dovey Junction, Borth where there was an Albion Class 2-4-0 No. 56. A splendid view of Aberdovey High Street from the 20s shows vintage cars whilst on the Fairbourne Railway we saw a Traction Engine and at Towyn Station all the staff were posing on the platform with the next shot showing the Talyllyn Railway Buildings. At the Corris Railway we had a couple of wonderful shots of No.3 and No. 2 which became Sir Haydn and Edward Thomas at the Talyllyn Railway.

Back to England we saw the Knowle & Dorridge Station horse used for shunting, along with an Achilles Class loco, a Dynamometer Car at Swindon Works, then Worcester and Hereford Sheds. A Manning Wardle 0-6-0 was at Shamrock Works, then from 1907 a fine array of semaphore signals at Glasgow Central and Hull Paragon, also from the same date Aldgate Station and the Signal Box frame and diagram. Slough Bath Road and Brighton SBs with an excellent shot of the destination board at Waterloo. The only non-steam locomotive was E2001 entering Bath. There was a short tour of the Westinghouse works at Chippenham where we saw all sorts of machines making parts for trains, ships and planes.

A scene of the wash-out at Colwyn Bay was seen and the following stations, Willesden Junction HL, Euston and the Doric Arch, Fleetwood Station Interior, Cheddington, Tamworth, Manchester London Road and Stockport where we saw 0-6-0 2308. The last few shown were a few of Bushey watertroughs, Shugborough Tunnel Portal and Queen Adelaide’s Saloon No. 2.

What a marvellous splendid evocative nostalgic show it was and very professionally presented by David, we will certainly be asking him back to Watford. Highly recommended!

* Sadly, Adrian White passed away, peacefully, on 21st April 2021 following long term health issues. He will be sorely missed by his family, friends and railway enthusiasts everywhere.

R.I.P. Adrian

Rob Davidson, Watford Branch Secretary