#1282. Industrial Archaeology in the Midlands

By Paul Perton | Travel Photography

Apr 28

It was my own fault. I live on a canal boat and had walked up the mooring pontoon first thing to drop my bag of rubbish in the bin. Despite wintry conditions in recent days, it felt decidedly warmer – ideal for a swap from denims to shorts for today’s shoot in Loughborough.

Preserved British Railways class 9F – and a mass of gleaming pipework
Connecting rods
Cylinder, valve gear, connecting rods

Arriving at my destination (the Great Central Railway – a preservation site) a couple of hours later, the folly of my decision quickly became obvious. The thermometer in the car said 9C, but a cold northerly wind took at least five degrees off that – and there was I in shorts.

Meeting, greeting and chattering took the best part of an hour, after which I was seriously cold. A walk around the yard warmed things up a bit, but it wasn’t until I hauled out my trusty Fuji X-H1, 18-55 zoom and a flash gun that I finally managed to get some feeling back in my limbs.

Retired workbench
Goods waggon awaiting overhaul
Component storage container for no. 73156

The preservation group I volunteer with is in the process of buying a semi-derelict steam loco to recover as many components as possible, especially it’s remarkably well preserved boiler. After more than 60 years standing in the open this is no small miracle and will save our project an impressive sum and several years work.

Today’s shoot is an effort to audit the many other re-usable components – the boiler is stored elsewhere.

That work done, and a collection of almost 60 black and white JPGs – all for record keeping only – the various other attendees returned to their offices, leaving me a short time to play.

Cleaned, ready for tomorrow morning
Drive belts
Broken springs

The Hasselblad X2D has already become a fixed part of my daily photographic kit and I was wanting to get some more practice in.

I shot with one lens – the 45mm f4, either wide open, or stopped down to just f5.6, hammered off sixty frames, said my farewells and headed for the car, the heater and home.

Machine shop
COND 2517

I categorise these images as Industrial Archaeology. I’m still learning about the X2D and many of these photographs are not quite as pin sharp as I would like, as my technique with the Fuji(s) doesn’t work quite so well here. Clearly, more practice is needed.

My thanks to the engineering team at the Great Central Railway (https://www.gcrailway.co.uk/) for their time and permissions.

Spanners (imperial)
No handbrake
Compressor store
Boiler empty

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  • pascaljappy says:

    Paul, thanks for the brilliant photographs! Some would look at home in a museum with a fancy signature at bottom-right.

    Now, that post makes me want to guess which photos are from the Fuji and which are from the X2D. The ones below COND 2517 mainly look Fuji. The first 4 monos look Hassy. I’m in two minds about the others (that you didn’t give away).


    • Pete Guaron says:

      Ha ha ha! I suspect he has you on the end of his fishing line, Pascal. We all KNEW you were circling!

      Brilliant photos, Paul. Back in the days when I was chasing around all over Australia with different bunches of train buffs, the gear I had was top class – but nowhere near what we can buy these days, and I can see the quality all over the place in these images.

      I’m afraid I ca’n’t sympathise with you on your clothing issues – I learned to dress myself well over 70 years ago! LOL

    • Ian Varkevisser says:

      I am going to go with the other way around . Above COND2517 high quality Fuji – below iffy Hassy quality 🙂 🙂 😉

    • Paul Perton says:

      Thanks Pascal – and everyone who joined in the guessing game.

      On re-reading my text, I now realise that I didn’t make it clear enough that the Fuji pics were b&w and only for the component audit. All of the images featured here are from the X2D and 45 f4.

  • Ian Varkevisser says:

    Fascinating project to be part of and document. Stunning photos Paul.

  • Des McSweeney says:

    Such a great heritage set as well as fine photography. You’re too self critical methinks

  • Claude Hurlbert says:

    Wow, Paul, talk about texture well-captured! I almost reached out to touch those connecting rods! I really enjoyed this set of photos. And I like your term—“industrial archeology.” There’s much to think about here in terms of methodology and composition.


  • Philberphoto says:

    Heartwarming to see you enjoying your new gear, Paul! This because your images speak volumes. Including lots of 3D :-). The visual impact is what strikes me most. Sort of effortless power… kudos!!

  • Nancee Rostad says:

    Thanks for sharing all these rusty delights! Only a rugged train-spotter like you could capture so much while wearing so little in the cold. The images look sharp and don’t seem to showing results of any personal shivering! You’ve recorded all the bits and pieces in quite a creative and most interesting way! Nicely done, my friend.

  • percy seaton smythe says:

    absolutely satisfying work!

  • PaulB says:

    Wait! Train photos! When were these posted and why am I only seeing theses today. Apple iOS/Safari strikes again! I am sure.

    Paul, how did you know I am a sucker for old trains, not to mention that being a mechanical engineer pulls me into projects like this. Trying to figure out a stack of parts, how they fit, and if they are still usable could be a lot of fun.

    I like all of the images from a techno-camera junkie point of view. Your color images can certainly give our fearless leader (Pascal) food for thought in his camera quest.


    • Paul Perton says:

      Hi Paul.

      I imagine you’d have loved some time in the container – old connecting rods, pistons, sanding boxes and if you look carefully, down in the LH corner, a completely new safety valve set. The GWR number plates and Castle nameplate are all there too – and worth thousands no doubt.

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