“Bashing”. That's the colloquial expression used by English railway enthusiasts for travelling around on trains, just for fun. So I understand. For millions, travelling by train is a necessary evil, just surviving the journey and getting from A to B. For a handful of others, it's just innocent fun. No harm in it.
I must admit, I indulge in bashing myself. Just riding along in a train, gazing out of the window onto what is arguably one of the greatest natural shows on earth. And I quite enjoy the art of railway photography to boot.
There is something uniquely fascinating about trains. Gone are the days of the hissing, belching steam engines – sadly – but the interest and fascination still remains. Maybe it's something to do with the connection offered by unlimited travel around a network. After all, a train can be the start of a much larger adventure, maybe an aeroplane or cruise ship awaits, or a loved one or dearly missed family member. Travel by train has lost a large part of its romanticism, maybe, but at least a sliver of it still remains.
Bashing is really not a practical proposition in the remote little corner of Western Canada where I currently live, so it is something to look forward to, when I get to visit the mother country, back in Good 'Ol Blighty. In Kamloops, the passenger train only comes along three times a week, and then it's the middle of the night when it does. One really has to want to get on that train!
For the photographer, capturing the railway scene has steadily grown more of a challenge as the years have rolled past, and fears over security and health & safety have grown. No-one is encouraged to linger at the railway station any more, and the age-old ritual of buying a platform ticket at the Big Station for a young lad's Saturday afternoon pleasure of train spotting is but a distant memory. The modern photographer has very much got to camouflage himself and blend in – the last thing he wants is for some over-zealous railway official to accost him, automatically assuming him to be something more sinister than a humble enthusiast. It's a bit like setting up a bird hide – except this time, we don't want to be scaring officialdom!
Undaunted, I search out interesting locations and picturesque scenes in which to record the modern railway scene. After all, it is still part of the history of our land. I aspire to emulate the likes of the late, great Ivo Peters or Bishop Eric Treacy in the recording of this little corner of English life. Dear reader, I sincerely hope I have succeeded to a small extent, and present a small selection of my recent work. Do, please, enjoy, and let me know what you think…