Rare trains featured in Woburn author’s new photograph book

An insightful pictorial book offering a unique rail journey through Britain has been penned by a Woburn author.
Author David KnapmanAuthor David Knapman
Author David Knapman

Titled Steam Across the Regions, this third volume by David Knapman, looks at all the former British Railways regions, through the lens of a young photographer in the late 1950s and early 1960s, before the diesel and electric invasion, that marked the end of the steam era.

David originally lived on the southern region, but as the result of a family move ended up living on the former Great Eastern Railway in Essex. He was lucky, in that he was able to access London from his home and photograph steam traction at most of the London Terminus stations, as well as taking pictures at other locations in the London and home counties area, before venturing further afield, to other parts of Britain.

David’s current railway passion includes travelling by steam train, wherever possible to enhance his collection of steam locomotive sound recordings.

The cover of Steam Across the RegionsThe cover of Steam Across the Regions
The cover of Steam Across the Regions

He said: “I was inspired by the great sound recordist, Peter Handford, to make sound recordings of steam locomotives at work. It is not a cheap activity and it can be very frustrating when a recording has not worked, for example the cable between the recorder and the microphone decided to break down in Canada on a long main line steam journey.

“Sound recordings can be made from the train and from the line side both of which require considerable concentration and care.

“As for what’s in the book, the chapters cover photographs of steam trains taken in the Scottish region, then working southwards through the north eastern and eastern regions, London Midland region followed by the western and southern regions of the then British Railways.

“There are a broad selection of views taken at the line side, at stations, at engine sheds and other locations all of which are intended to bring back fond memories of steam railway travel.”

Aged five, David’s railway interest was triggered at Reigate station by a Wainwright 4.4.0. Reading his father’s pre-war Railway Magazine and regularly taking Trains Illustrated fostered a lifelong passion.

Photography started with a Brownie Box camera, which was soon overtaken by a 35mm Agfa Silette.

“I’ve missed a fair few opportunities over the years,” said David.

“For example, in the early 1960s I had to be economical with film and could not always afford to buy let alone process films.

“On one particular day in June 1962 I decided to travel to Hitchin from Kings Cross to watch the activity on the East Coast main line. I decided not to take the camera as I was short of funds. At the head of the train was a gleaming Flying Scotsman freshly overhauled and ready to go! Frustration ruled, but it was a good day out nevertheless.”

The secret to success train spotting and taking good photographs is having a flexible lens and obeying the rules of the railway says David.

Steam Across the Regions is a hardback, 128 pages and features 200 black and white illustrations. The book is £25 and stocked by selected retailers.

For purchase details visit https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Steam-Across-the-Regions/p/18513