Great Western At The Turn Of The Century By  A.R. Kingdom w dust jacket
Great Western At The Turn Of The Century By  A.R. Kingdom w dust jacket
Great Western At The Turn Of The Century By  A.R. Kingdom w dust jacket
Great Western At The Turn Of The Century By  A.R. Kingdom w dust jacket
Great Western At The Turn Of The Century By  A.R. Kingdom w dust jacket
Great Western At The Turn Of The Century By  A.R. Kingdom w dust jacket
Great Western At The Turn Of The Century By  A.R. Kingdom w dust jacket
Great Western At The Turn Of The Century By  A.R. Kingdom w dust jacket

Great Western At The Turn Of The Century By A.R. Kingdom w dust jacket

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Great Western At The Turn Of The Century By A.R. Kingdom w dust jacket
 
The Great Western At The Turn Of The Century By  A.R. Kingdom
Hardbound With Dustjacket
112 Pages
Published 1996

INTRODUCTION
It is very seldom that an old and rare collection of railway photographs comes to light and it is every serious collector's dream that it will one day happen to him.
The author of another book in the railway series, published by this Company, "G.W. Portrait" by Adrian Vaughan, came upon such a collection largely due to a chance meeting with the photographer, Bill Kenning. The collection of the late J.B.N. Ashford came into my possession in an equally `by chance' situation. In fact, I was approached by a total stranger with an offer to purchase it, following the appearance of my photograph in a local paper. (This was in connection with the purchase of a locomotive from H.M. Dockyard, Devonport, for a member of the Great Western Society, S.W. Group, of which I was Chairman at the time). The stranger approached me by telephone and upon ascertaining my interest, a subsequent meeting was arranged at his home. On arriving, I was handed an old fashioned hat box full of a mixture of full and half plate sepia photographs of the late 1800's and early 1900's, documents and notebooks full of personally acquired railway data. The lid was missing and the half century or more that the photographs had been stored, had covered them in thick dust and had badly curled or cracked them.
Suppressing my obvious delight, a price within my pocket was reached and I returned home to many months of careful restoration work. I started out on the more faded and damaged ones, experimenting with warm water, a fan heater and an electric iron! As I gained experience, a process evolved which soon became second nature to me, and some time later, I was finally at a stage where they were all mounted and could be copied by a professional photographer. It was expedient to have fresh negatives made at this stage, for the original plate glass negatives were never found. However, a fine collection of clean and mounted sepia originals emerged complete with their 'cut film' copy negs.
During my many years as an enthusiast, I have had the privilege to meet many of whom I hold in high esteem. Not the least of these, was the late P.J.T. Reed, who was particularly noted for his being the motive power behind the superb twelve volume marathon work by the R.C.T.S., 'The Locomotives of the Great Western Railway'. Phil Reed, as he became known to me, was able to fill- in the background to the history of the Ashford Collection, and furthermore, placed me in touch with the sole surviving son. I was then able to approach Mr. Ashford, Junior, who was in his late seventies and still living in Plymouth. He kindly granted me permission to use his father's work as I saw fit and he also produced a further selection of photographs mounted in two family albums! I borrowed each of these in turn and had professional copy negatives made as before.

As a young boy, Phil Reed had known the late J.B.N. Ashford who frequently visited his parents. He was able to inform me Mr. Ashford had been a locomotive inspector on the G.W.R. and was the son of a Dr. J.B. Ashford of Torquay.
This to my mind provided a clue to the fact that ownership of such expensive equipment as a full 'wet plate' camera and developing kit was, in no small part, a product of his family's social standing of that era. What a blessing this was to turn out to be, for during the late 1870's to the early 1920's, a priceless record of the growth of West Country railways was produced for posterity.
He did not work alone however, for two other early railway photographers used to work with him. They were Messrs. Taylor and Pascoe, the latter often photographing at the same time and from the same spot. This is interesting to note, for much of Ashford's work has been attributed to Pascoe and vice versa. The same was true, up to a point, regarding Taylor, except their association was not nearly so long standing. J.B.N. Ashford died in 1926 and much of his work was lost until it came, by pure chance, into my possession in 1969. Supplementing the photographs previously described, are a number from the well-known series by Chapman & Son of Dawlish. Taken at the late end of the Ashford era and slightly after it, they constitute a fine balance of scenic photography necessary to offset the rather more mechanical studies of Ashford himself.
These again, are augmented by the inclusion of scenes from no less than eight other equally fine collections listed in the acknowledgements in this book.
This in all is an attempt to record the Great Western at the Turn of the Century and in its reviewing, I have, on more than one occasion, suffered the pangs of envy of those who were there to see it happen. Long may they rest in peace, those whose foresight recorded it so painstakingly for our pleasure.

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