Locomotive Boscastle, February 1998

In February 1998, Colin Nash brought me for a productive visit  to Britain’s preserved Great Central Railway. It was typical winter’s day in Leicestershire; the dawn brought crisp cold sun, yet the ground was damp. In other words, excellent conditions for photographing steam locomotives at work. To attract visitors, many railway museums and preserved railways focus operations on summer months, with trains tending to run during the middle part of the day. While this obviously suits casual visitors, it isn’t the optimum time for photography. Harsh high light, and warm dry days offer precious little to enhance the drama of a steam locomotive. I’d much prefer rich low sun of winter with high-dew point and frosty temperatures, that result voluminous effluence from steam locomotives and dramatic contrasts that portray the machinery in dramatic light.

Thankfully, Britain is blessed with a variety of top notch preserved railways, many of which operate during the colder months. During the past 15 years, I’ve made numerous trips to the United Kingdom in search of steam, as well as to make images of revenue mainline railways. This exposure was made with my Nikon F3T and an f2.8 135mm lens on Fuji Astia 100.

Steam locomotive at work.
Locomotive 34039 Boscastle works toward Leicester North in February 1998. This engine is one of Oliver Bulleid’s famed West Country 4-6-2 Pacifics built for Southern Railway. The image was exposed with Nikon fitted with f2.8 135mm lens on Fuji Astia 100 slide film.

3 comments on “Locomotive Boscastle, February 1998

  1. Mark Healy on said:

    If the angle were less acute you would be able to see that what is actually between ‘Royal’ and ‘Mail’ is EIIR (i.e. Elizabeth II Regina). The ‘II’ is in a smaller font than the E and R. The vehicle is part of a rake of BR Mk1 (1956-59) post office vehicles that the Great Central uses for lineside exchange apparatus demonstrations. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jHBDruxNTY


  2. Nice photo!
    Trivia question: which “E” is between the Royal and the Mail – Elizabeth or Edward?

    • While I would not claim any authority on matters relating to Royal history, my guess based strictly on the era of the equipment would be Elizabeth.The West Country Pacific’s were a postwar (WWII) design, built in the late Southern Railway and Early British Railways period; (build-dates c1945-to about 1951?) and would have been operated in regular service through the end of steam in 1967. Edwardian railway equipment is considerably more antique in appearance. I’ll gladly differ to anyone with a better knowledge of these engines.

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