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Heritage Railway readers are being invited to own a stunning new book showcasing some of the finest lineside photography of the past four decades – while helping an international charity which cares for homeless children found living on and around stations and their platforms.

Rarely have two seemingly disparate hobbies – railway enthusiasm and photography – been for so long inextricably linked.

Sadly, no photographs exist from the dawn of the steam locomotive, but there are plenty from mid-Victorian times onwards, as cameras with faster lenses and shutters made photographing trains more attractive and indeed possible.

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Stephen Crook, who was the Rail Camera Club secretary until his untimely passing in November 2011, took this fine shot on August 6, 1962, which features unrebuilt Patriot 4-6-0 No. 45550 storming towards Shap Summit with a southbound empty stock train. Many years before the Master Neverers Association’s legendary clandestine cleaning exploits, Stephen had risen early to clean the locomotive but ran out of time as the dome is partially clean and the tender has not been started! Thanks are due to John Cooper-Smith for digitally removing a tree that was in the original picture. STEPHEN CROOK/THE ARMSTRONG TRUST

A landmark came with the founding of the Railway Photographic Society in 1922 by acclaimed lineside photographer Maurice Earley, who retained the post of secretary until 1976!

The society retired with him, but Carlisle-based photographer Stephen Crook resurrected it as the Rail Camera Club later that same year, and the first folio of images from the group was circulated.

Back in those days, indeed until fairly recent times, photography was regarded as a hobby only for the well-off. Most mere mortals only had a snapshot camera and maybe two or three rolls of black and white film for holidays.

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By contrast, digital rules the roost today, and it is possible to buy a cheap compact for around £30 and download pictures on to your computer free of charge.

Read more and view more images in Issue 246 of HR – on sale now!

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