In the 1950s a magnificent array of steam locomotives still operated on the lines that
criss-crossed the North and East of Britain.
However, in 1955 the Modernisation Plan
was issued that showed that steam traction was doomed. By 1960/61 the Beeching
Report was starting to have a major effect on the steam fleet and some major and
well-liked classes disappeared entirely.
All the Princess Royals were withdrawn by the
end of 1962 and the Duchesses were eliminated south of Crewe by 1963. All of the
440s were gone by the end of 1962 and many well before that date.
Tony Butcher was fascinated by railways from a young age. His first reasonable
camera was a Kodak which allowed him to take action shots in 1956. From that
he graduated to a square bellows camera with a 500 shutter in 1957 and a 35mm
camera in 1961. With this equipment,Tony amassed a priceless collection of images,
recording the last, glorious days of steam, notably in the Northern and Eastern
Regions which are the focus of this book.
Chasing Society Steam specials, which were often aimed at using last in class
engines, as well as traversing colliery and ore lines and routes either freight-only or
about to be totally closed,Tony Butcher’s black and white images portray the poetry
and the power of these living machines.
From 1962 his colour images add a sometimes
startling depth and immediacy to his collection, especially in the very last days
of British Steam from 1965-1968.
Together, these classic examples from Tony Butcher’s peerless picture archive, offer
a nostalgic yet stunning view of the Indian summer of steam traction between 1956
and 1968, in what are some of the most fascinating Regions in Britain.
Tony Butcher’s interest in railways and steam was reawakened at the age of seventeen by a
visit of a younger cousin who wanted to go and see steam at Clapham Junction. From then on,
throughout his life he has photographed railways in action. Following an Engineering degree
and marriage, from mid 1961 onwards with his own car he travelled all over the country in search
of steam. This interest has continued to this day. Tony Butcher photographed preserved steam
on BR lines in the 1980s, but since the start of the ‘90s he has concentrated on photographic
charters on the preserved railway lines, now well into the fully digital era.
Imprint: Halsgrove. ISBN 978 0 85704 273 6, hardback, 238x258mm, 144 pages. Published October 2015.