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Early Agfacolour film was very grainy and tended to be contrasty but it sometimes yielded a 'pen and ink' effect which I found very attractive on some subjects.

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Some of my earliest memories involve train journeys.

My first camera was purchased in 1951; an Ensign Ful Vue box camera, but only a handful of images remain: these include a D49 at Seamer, L&Y Superheated 'A' class No 52459 seen here at Rochdale station (right).

It had its limitations, of course, especially when photographing fast moving trains or in poor light, but it turned out some acceptable work.

In October 1959 my boss drew my attention to a special offer on Iloca Rapid 35mm cameras; these had a 1/500th second shutter speed, a f2.8 lens and integral (but not coupled) light meter.

The images have survived sufficiently well over the years, and with a little bit of Photoshopping they produce very good quality colour pictures.

Later it was back to Agfa CT 18 and, when supplies were difficult, even an occasional Ilfochrome was tried.

Even odder still, railway photography - a natural adjunct to spotting - didn't come cheap either, yet it became one of the fastest growing pursuits for boys - and hallelujah for that!

The talent to which I am referring are gentlemen born and raised during the 1940s and 1950s, who spent the best part of their youth dashing around the country in the pursuit of loco numbers or taking photographs of trains just for the fun of it. I'm talking about that quintessentially British 1950s curiosity called train spotting; a hobby demanding such high levels of commitment and pricey long-distance train travel, that it's surprising it ever got off the ground in the first place, especially during the penny-pinching post-war years.

Their impressive lines suggest great power, speed and efficiency without the spiky or slabsided shapes as on some other classes and the Belpaire firebox breaks up the otherwise overlong boiler barrel.

The West Coast Main Line from Crewe to Carlisle was a magnet for North-West spotters as well as more serious steam locomotive admirers.

However, colour work tended to play second fiddle to black and white work with the Leica.

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