Last Days of Western Steam from the Bill Reed Collection by Peter Tuffrey
This collection of 168 colour photographs, which date from 1958 to 1967, features the Western Region of B.R., formerly the territory of the Great Western Railway, and its motive power. Bill Reed took the pictures during a number of visits to stations, sheds and to areas offering an attractive vantage point to shoot film. The engines have been pictured at various locations around the Western Region, ranging from; Barmouth and Aberystwyth in north west Wales to Whitland in the south west; Crewe and Wellington in the north east to London Paddington, Oxford and Princes Risborough in the south east. The places one would generally associate with the Western Region are also present and they comprise; Swindon (depot, station and works), Bristol, Exeter, Newton Abbot, Truro and Penzance.Bill has taken photographs of locomotives working on a number of branch lines around the Western Region and these are particularly evocative of the era. They also point to the future, in the form of the Beeching Report, when mass closures occurred eliminating these stations serving the local communities. The branch line stations featured are often deserted and the carriages partially empty.In some instances the stations would never serve many people, but others would lose passengers after the rise in motor car use in the wake of the Second World War. The W.R. attempted to entice passengers to some lines with diesel railcars, also reducing costs, and an example is seen in this collection at Kemble station. The G.W.R. had also tried this tactic with their own railcars and two have been captured at Worcester.