I guess I’d better fess up in the first instance, I have been looking forward to getting hold of this book for a while, I don’t actually own this book, I have borrowed a copy from Liverpool Central Library. A bit of background on the book and the Author/Photographer. This actual volume was published way back in 1970 by the Ian Allen group, and there was also a sister volume, published a few years late called ‘…..and Gone Forever…’
I remember being at Art College, and one of my tutors, knowing I had a keen interest in Railways, brought in the original volume of this book, and the images within struck such a chord with me. Colin Gifford was the forerunner of what became known as ‘the new approach’ to Railway Photography, and in the 1960’s in the post Beeching Report, time was being called on the steam locomotives that powered the Industrial Revolution in the UK, so Gifford set out to record the remaining years up to August 1968, when the final locomotives were withdrawn, bringing to an end, steam locomotion in the UK.
Ian Allen (Colin Gifford’s) original publisher, have (with the Author) been working on a new version of the book for a few years, and this was finally published in 2013, with slight revisions, and improved printing quality, I understand the initial print has sold out (although directly from the publisher) you can still get a Special Limited Edition, complete with slipcase). I am hoping for a re-print in order I can actually buy it! There is also hope of the second volume ‘…..and Gone Forever….’ being published in the near future.
The images contain within are all shot by Gifford in the years from the beginning of the 1960’s until the last embers were drawn in August 1968, and are all monochrome, shot with Colin’s trusty Rolleiflex Camera. They range from images in smoke and grime filled locomotive sheds, to the wild expanse of Shap summit, from dark Northern Towns and City’s, to rural (about the be extinct) branch lines, and everything in between. They are all stunning. Gifford had a clear eye for detail, and was a freelance designer, the images that Colin captured were of a world that no longer exists, and this only enhances their impact. The images are presented to a very high standard, and are arranged in a ‘theme’ in so much as across the various spreads the pictures complement each other within the general feel of each other. The only other way, I guess, you could think of the work Colin Gifford produced is Impressionism along the theme of Railways, many of the shots don’t actually include the engines (apart for a wisp of steam) but of the people/railway workers/engine spotters and infrastructure, of a slowly vanishing world.
This book is well worth investing in, weather you have an interest in Railways, Photography, or Social History, if you can get hold of it, it’s well worth it.
Link to Ian Allan webpage: