I have always been interested in transport. In particular, I have always loved railways; there has been an interest in buses, as demonstrated by some photographs on this site, but more of that later. I cannot remember when I first became interested in railways, but I must have been quite young because I can remember watching steam trains, while on family holidays, on the sea wall at Dawlish and at Exmouth.

We lived in Ruislip, on the outskirts of London (in the county of Middlesex when I was young), and the nearest point that the railway passed to our house was also the location of the water troughs at West Ruislip, on the erstwhile GW&GC Joint railway. My mum and I used to walk across the Golf Course to watch the trains go by. In those days many were still steam hauled, but the highlight of the day was to see the Blue Pullman on its Paddington to Birmingham Snow Hill run.

Mum is from Dorset and, when visiting my grandfather, dad used to take me to Templecombe, where Bullied Pacifics and Warship hydraulics ran on the South Western main line and the S&D trains performed their complicated manoeuvre to call at the station while running from Bournemouth to Bath and vice versa.

When I was old enough to go out by myself, I often went and sat on the platform at West Ruislip. In the mornings a Black 5 would pass through towards London on, what I now know to be, the empty newspaper vans from Nottingham via the Great Central. Every day a Class 25 would call at the station to deliver parcels. The expresses to Birmingham were hauled by Brush Type 4’s (or 47’s, as they became), which I disliked, because I wanted the trains on my local line to be hauled by the Westerns that were seen in Devon and Cornwall on family holidays.

Every afternoon, at about 4:45, a steam passenger train would pass through on the down fast. One Friday afternoon the station was crowded with men, most with cameras, to watch Clun Castle pass through. After it went by, one said to me “That’s the last you will see”. I only realised what he meant when the next day’s newspaper had a picture of Clun Castle on the last scheduled steam train out of Paddington. 

These memories are great, but, unfortunately, none of them were captured on film by me as I was too young to own a camera. However, in 1973, when 16, I purchased my first camera – a Zenith B, and set about recording my interest on film. The camera was purchased on the recommendation of my friend, David Craft and, in the years following, he and I travelled around in his trusty Mark 1 Cortina photographing the contemporary rail scene. In particular, we recorded the last years of the diesel hydraulics on the Western Region of British Railways. Unfortunately, we had just missed the passing of the Warships, but we did get pictures of Hymeks and, my great favourites, the Westerns, as they worked out their final days.

Our favourite place to photograph was Iver in Buckinghamshire (just about where the M25 now passes over the Great Western main line), where we would spend hours on the embankment waiting for the ever dwindling hydraulics to come along. Some workings could be guaranteed to be Westerns; the Cornish Riviera Express and the Laira to Old Oak empty van train with its eccentric collection of coaches and vans. The Class 50’s (or D400’s as we first knew them) were just starting to appear on the Western and we thoroughly disliked them (how things changed!). Looking at the photos now, I have to admit that we indulged in a bit of trespassing, but nobody seemed to mind in those days.

Occasionally, we would spread our wings and go to Reading or Didcot, or visit one of the other main lines out of London. In the long hot summer of 1976 we went to Devon for a couple of weeks and photographed the Westerns, down west in their last summer of operation.

After the demise of the hydraulics, I lost a bit of interest, which also coincided with meeting the future Mrs. Ive. This resulted in a bit of a lull, which ended when I met my friend Nick Bailey at London Transport, where we both worked. He was right into the ‘bashing’ scene of the time and gave me information about all sorts of things, both rail and bus. Therefore, in the late 70’s and early 80’s, the photography continued unabated as I chased everything from Class 40’s to Bristol Lodekkas.
During this period the trusty Zenith was replaced, briefly by a Yashica, then, in 1982, by the best camera I ever had; a Canon AE1.

Marriage and children followed as time went by, but I continued to photograph the railway scene. Being from London, and as a one time employee of London Transport, I had always been interested in London’s buses. They were fairly regularly photographed, albeit, not as often as trains. When bus privatisation came about, it produced a wave of new companies and liveries across the country. For a few years in the early 90’s, my bus photos outnumbered those of trains, and I even went on trips to places such as Newcastle, Liverpool, and even Aberdeen taking photos. The consolidation of the industry by the big ‘corporates’ diminished this particular interest and the bus photography became restricted to the capital city, until even that became a bit boring. So, once again, railway photography is in the ascendency.

In 1985 we moved from Ruislip to Princes Risborough in Buckinghamshire. As befits a once busy junction, there are several other rail enthusiasts in town, who quickly became my friends through meeting at the station, particularly in the days when the evening loco-hauled train would come down from Paddington. In my early days in Risborough both the Chinnor and Thame branches saw regular freight traffic, which added to the variety on offer. In those days the GW&GC Joint was something of a backwater with single track north of Risborough and a sparse service. There has now been quite a transformation on what is now called Chiltern Railways with resignalling, redoubling and a far more frequent train service. All we need is a bit more freight! Having lived on the GW&GC Joint Line all my life, you will not be surprised to see that there is a specific category of photographs for it on the site

Rail privatisation and the sharing of information on the Internet have introduced more opportunities for photography, which are reflected in my current pictures and those of the last few years.

Up to the end of 2008 all my pictures were taken using colour transparency film, so everything before that date has been scanned from the originals. Most of the pictures on this site were taken using Kodachrome 64 and Kodachrome 200 slide film; the former during summer months and the latter during the winter. In 2001, I purchased a Canon EOS 300. Unfortunately, the lenses were not as versatile as those with the AE1, so most shots since then have been taken on Fuji Sensia 400 film. Christmas 2008 saw the purchase of a Canon 450D digital SLR, with digital images appearing on the site from January 2009.

Finally some thanks: To David Craft for igniting my interest in railway photography and ferrying me around before I passed my driving test; to Nick Bailey for his information and his inspiration to take good photographs; to my wife, Christine, for putting up with my hobby and waiting patiently for trains that were, either late, or just didn’t turn up; my son Graham for sharing my railway interest and, finally, to my other son, Richard, for building this website.

I hope that you all enjoy looking at these photographs as much as I have taking them.

David Ive (DjI)

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