Oral history workshop
Fig 1: “Jubilee” 4-6-0 No. 45581 ‘Bihar and Orissa’ storms past Kirkby South Junction and is just about to cross over the Midland line from Pye Bridge on 27th June 1964. Photo Credit: Malcolm Rush. Colourised version

Youthful Days – Part 11a

In Youthful Days Part 11a Malcolm Rush looks back at his early photography efforts and some of the challenges which faced him with this new aspect to his hobby.

In August 1963 I became the proud owner of a ubiquitous “Kodak Brownie 127” camera. This added a new dimension to my hobby but my photography skills were very limited. Self taught, I tended to copy the three-quarter views seen in the Ian Allan spotting books. That was probably a wise move because the camera had a slow fixed shutter speed of 1/50 sec. Somehow, though, I had heard that by panning the camera as a subject passed you might be able to minimise a blurred result.

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Fig 2: A Kodak Brownie 127 camera like the one I owned. Photo Credit: Malcolm Rush Collection

Even today, I see the Fig 1 photo I took of 45581 as being one of my most pleasing early results. In 1964, though, I didn’t know much about the actual trains which passed through – I just knew in that Summer you could generally see a “Jubilee” heading north on a Saturday afternoon.

Now, years afterwards, I can identify the train as being the Saturdays only 10:34 Bournemouth West to Bradford Exchange. No. 45581 took over the train at Nottingham Victoria. No. 6911 “Holker Hall” had hauled the train from Oxford to Nottingham Victoria.

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Fig 3: This extract from my spotting log for 27th June 1964 shows, with a red “P”, that I had taken a photo of 45581. We also see, following that entry, Nos. 73069, 60125 “Scottish Union”, D6801 and 61360. Photo Credit: Malcolm Rush

I also now know that No. 73069 was on the 10:45 Poole to Sheffield Victoria service, which it had worked from Banbury.

Both are returns of southbound workings earlier in the day: 45581 on the 09:55 Leeds City/10:00 Bradford Exchange to Poole (trains combined at Huddersfield) and 73069 on the 09:00 Sheffield Victoria to Bournemouth Central. Also, D6801 was on the 11:16 (SO) Bournemouth West to Newcastle, the return working of the 08:30 Newcastle to Bournemouth West.

Going back to my Brownie 127 camera it took 8 photos on a roll of 127 film. You had to be careful to wind on after taking a photo, otherwise a double exposure would be made – something I did on more than one occasion!

From my log seen in Fig 3 I also took a photo of No. 60125 “Scottish Union” ………..

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Fig 4: Although I tried out my panning skills on this photo when “A1” class 4-6-2 No. 60125 ‘Scottish Union’ powered by with an empty pigeon special, the blurred result speaks for itself!! However, the photo does impart a sense of the speed of the train! Photo Credit: Malcolm Rush. Colourised version

Fortunately, there were at least two other local photographers out that day who took photos of 60125 heading north, Tom Boustead and Syd Hancock. I have read that the special was a Normanton to Didcot pigeon train, presumably this was returning from Didcot.

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Fig 5: Having left Nottingham Victoria “A1” class 4-6-2 No. 60125 ‘Scottish Union’ passes Bagthorpe Junction heading towards Kirkby-in-Ashfield with the empty pigeon special on 27th June 1964 Photo Credit: Tom Boustead.

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Fig 6: “Scottish Union” at New Hucknall Sidings on 27th June 1964, about to pass under the A615 road bridge (now the A38). Photo Credit: Syd Hancock.

The other photo I took on 27th June 1964 was a total disaster! It was of B1 No. 61360 which hauled the RCTS “High Peak No. 1” special from High Peak Jn, Pye Bridge, Mansfield Town and onto Sheffield Victoria. Details of the Railtour can be found on the Six Bells Website here  https://www.sixbellsjunction.co.uk/60s/640627rc.html

My problem was that I hadn’t learned about the wide angle lens of the Brownie 127 when taking a three quarter view of a train close up. I watched the train approach as it climbed up towards the GC overbridge where I’d taken the other 2 photos. I wanted to fill the frame so I left it to the last second before pressing the shutter by which time the perspective of the wide angle lens meant that I only managed a rather blurred shot of half the engine!

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Fig 7: Class B1 No. 61360, having past Bentinck Colliery Sidings signal box, is about to pass under the GC main line climbing towards Kirkby-in-Ashfield (East) station on 27th June 1964  Photo Credit: Malcolm Rush

To balance my failure with 61360, in Fig 7, at the end of this blog I’m including a few more of my favourite Brownie 127 photos taken at Kirkby-in-Ashfield.

During 1964/65 I also used another camera, one I called my soap-box camera (it was one I got free by collecting some coupons from soap powder boxes). Two reasonable photos I took with that camera can be seen in Youthful Days Part 7, Figs 11 & 12 (46251 “City of Nottingham” and 92220 “Evening Star”, both taken at Annesley during 1964).

I was, though, able to upgrade my camera to 35mm through my decision to seek out a Saturday morning job. I was taken on by the Co-op butchers on Low Moor Road, Kirkby. I had to work from 8.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. delivering meat on 3 separate geographic rounds. I was paid 7s 6d (£0.375 in today’s money). With now having regular cash I was able, in March 1965, to negotiate a loan of £5 from my Mum which I used to buy a secondhand Ilford Sportsman 35mm camera from Mansfield Sale and Exchange, Nottingham Road, Mansfield.

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Fig 8: An Ilford Sportsman 35mm camera like the one I bought in March 1965 Photo Credit Malcolm Rush Collection

This proved more flexible in its use – it had adjustable shutter speed, aperture and focus. However, to have all my photographs developed and printed was usually out of my financial reach. I therefore adopted a compromise solution by having the films developed and sometimes a small selection of negatives printed. The films were subsequently stored, awaiting an opportunity for the remaining shots to be printed. For a variety of reasons this didn’t happen until 10 years later. There was, however, quite a serious drawback to that strategy. Because I wasn’t seeing the fruits of my labours, I couldn’t benefit from constructive appraisal of what I had produced. My photography flair and skills did not, therefore, develop as fast as they might have done.

I did, though, deliver on my debt commitment for this camera – paying back 2s 6d each week to my Mum for 40 weeks.

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Fig 9a shows a bike similar to the one I used – the one illustrated, though, is a variant for female riders and the basket area isn’t as substantial as on the bike I used. Photo Credit: Malcolm Rush

I have some fond memories of that Saturday morning job – also some not so pleasant ones. I remember one cold icy morning when I was free-wheeling down a hill, I banked the bike over to go round a corner and then suddenly my bike went from underneath me. As my bike and I slid sideways down the road I saw various parcels of meat making their own journey, skating down the hill. Eventually everything came to rest and, unperturbed, I dusted myself down and set about retrieving my meat deliveries. Some needed the paper wrapping tidying up but all were subsequently delivered. No complaints were received but I hope people washed their joints before cooking – otherwise some might have had a distinctly gritty texture!

My bike was a typical “butchers’ bike” design with a large wicker basket at the front. I was, however, envious of the delivery boy for the butcher near the Nags Head pub. His bike had a small front wheel and a larger rear wheel whereas my bike had front and rear wheels the same size. For some inexplicable reason I always thought that a proper delivery bike should have the smaller front wheel.

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Fig 9b shows the sort of bike I had designs on – with the small front wheel.. For me, that would have been the bee’s knees and I was always jealous when I saw a rival butcher’s lad delivering meat on one of those bikes. Photo Credit: by Kolforn used with Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license

At this point it’s a good time to explain my photo taking strategy – it was one where I didn’t take photos of diesels (cost of film etc and, after all, they were replacing my steam engines!) Looking back now that was rather short-sighted. However, a diesel in trouble …. I could break my rule for that …. see Youthful Days Part 11b.


Blog by Malcolm Rush

Posted by SB2K Admin – 28th January 2024.