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June 03 , 2011

A Life on the Lines

A railwayman's album


During much of his early career, from 1944 through to the early 1960s, Richard Hardy took hundreds of pictures of life on the railways and the men he knew and worked with on a daily basis, using his trusty Brownie 620 box camera. These unique and largely unpublished images form a fascinating and hugely evocative portrayal of the height of the steam era, during the age of the 'Big Four', and after 1947 on the sprawling nationalised network known as British Railways.

Many of the pictures capture the railways in wartime, providing a valuable social record of the nation at war. In addition there is a sequence of rare photographs of French engines, railways and railwaymen, which offer a superb contrast to the British rail network (it quickly becomes evident that whereas the British rail system ran on tea, the French system ran on wine). Great characters are the unifying theme of the pictures, and they include famous figures associated with the railways, such as the poet John Betjeman.

This lavishly illustrated book sets Richard's personal photographs and text alongside a carefully collated selection of ephemera, artworks and photographs drawn from the National Railway Museum in York. Collectively these images and artefacts tell the stories of the great brotherhood of railwaymen.
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