‘Never Again - Finale'.........
The final three episodes in the story of the activities of the members of the MNA, an enigmatic organisation dedicated to capturing the final years of British main line steam railway operation on film, available in a stunning three-volume boxed set, featuring yet more of the finest examples of the railway photographer's art, seen through the lenses of some of the best-ever exponents of that art.
A publication written and produced by the MNA
this is a record of their activities in those halcyon days, told through words and pictures recreating the last few years of British Railways steam operation.
Never Again - Finale presents the final three volumes showcasing the photographic work of the MNA. A total of 720 pages with over 1,000 photographs supported by expanded captions and text that we hope will provide the reader with a feast of nostalgia from those heady days of the 1950s and 60s chasing steam around Britain.
Once again we have presented a rich mix of photographs from all corners of Great Britain with regional variety in each of the three volumes. The different photographic styles of the group members bring an additional dimension to Finale, and help place the steam locomotive into its operational context and environment with numerous examples of railway infrastructure, much of which has long since disappeared.
We captured so well the steam locomotive in its surroundings of over half a century ago, whether in the dark cavernous confines of the engine sheds, industrial landscapes, or the more rural and mountainous parts of Britain.
Volume Eight kicks off with a substantial piece focussing on ‘The Route of The Cathedrals Express’. For those of us living in the Midlands, days out to see steam at work climbing to Campden Tunnel was an easy trip to make and capture the sight of ex-GWR Castles hard at work on one of their last regular steam passenger express diagrams.
A last bastion of Southern express steam workings was between London Waterloo and Weymouth. The route is comprehensively covered in Volume Eight, dominated by the ex-Southern Region Pacifics at the head of the many expresses that were steam worked right up until the end of steam on the route in July 1967.
Volume Eight ends with over 80 pages devoted to The Settle and Carlisle Railway. We made so many visits to the route in all weathers to capture steam hard at work in the dramatic setting of the northern fells and Pennine country. Initially our trips were by train, then walking many miles of the route to our chosen locations, using permanent way cabins to get a good nights kip around the warmth of a coal fire. Several hay lofts located close to the railway also provided the warmth and shelter for a night’s accommodation and the pleasure of hearing steam throughout the night, and being ready at first light to photograph steam workings.
During the final years of steam operation a visit to the route by car to ‘chase’ our quarry would invariably be preceded by a cleaning session at Leeds Holbeck or Carlisle Kingmoor.
Volume Nine starts by looking back at the London Midland West Coast Main Line between Euston and Crewe. The reader is treated to a feast of ex-LMS express passenger workings in the hands of Class 7 and 8 steam traction. Such photographs bring back fond memories for those of us living in the Midlands, when days were spent loco-spotting sat in the famous Tamworth field, at Norton Bridge, Rugby or on Crewe station.
The atmosphere in a steam shed at night, particularly in the winter, is so well captured in a sequence of shots taken at St. Margarets and Dundee Tay Bridge depots. They include a variety of steam traction in a section featuring main line workings between Edinburgh and Dundee.
Volume Ten completes this three-volume portfolio taking the reader around the country, starting with The Industrial West Riding. This and other sections titled; The Industrial North West and The East Lancs, Copy Pit and Calder Valley, comprehensively cover the Hills and Mills of industrial Lancashire and Yorkshire highlighting steam at work in this ‘gritty’ environment, so frequently visited by members of the MNA.
Steam in Wales is featured in two sections, one following the North Wales coastline between Chester and Holyhead and the second deep in South Wales coal mining country and the more rural region of West Wales.
Main Lines North of York feature the sight of the ex-LNER Pacifics on the racetrack north of York, a visit to Darlington works and the last steam hauled passenger services on Teeside. Then a visit to Crewe, the station, sheds and Works. All were essential destinations on any visit. It was a place of such intense activity and for those of us in the Midlands, easily accessible and a place to spend many happy hours.
One of the very last domains of steam working in Scotland was the branch line between Montrose and Brechin. A ten page ‘Cameo’ piece that so well presents the efforts we made to clean the last J37s to perfection and capture them hard at work in this scenic back-water of north-east Scotland.
The Great Central and Midland Main Lines radiating north from London are presented in two separate sections, the latter including a focus on the intensive coal train workings in the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire areas and titled ‘When Coal was King’.