Photographs of the District Railway

The steam age days of the District Railway evolved at the same time as some of the major developments were taking place with photography. The Henry Flather photographs of the construction of the District (1865-70) are a tremendous resource but the equipment was very bulky and heavy and involved what was in effect a portable darkroom and the exposure times comparatively long. The methods were really only suited to taking pre-arranged still shots, which is what we see in those images in my book. There are very few images showing the early days of the operational railway. Later developments, from the 1880s allowed less bulky equipment to be used and a greater flexibility in what might be photographed, but as the District was an underground line the photographs we know about tend to be taken along the open-air sections of line outside the central area. I have made some space here to add interesting shots of the line that did not make it to the book, or where amplification is now possible.

Ealing Broadway

A version of the image below appears in Volume 1 of my book at the top of page 121. Neither myself or the person in whose collection it was found knew of its source. The image was in truly terrible condition but with a great deal of effort Photoshop produced a result that was worth reproducing even though there are areas of loss.

Subsequent to the book appearing my attention was drawn to another version of the same image in London Transport's staff magazine Pennyfare, which I had overlooked although I have a set on shelf. This is reproduced below. It is not a very high resolution version as it has been converted into a screened printer's block. I have removed the screen and done what I can to cheer it up as much as I dare and although it is not as finely resolved as the image in my book it shows the missing areas..

Far more importantly the magazine caption gives details that might be of interest, which I reproduce below..

Ealing Broadway Loco Staff

The magazine attributes the image to 1892 and the photo was lent to the magazine by Power Signal Lineman G.S. Gentry (Elephant & Castle) whose father was Shunter D. Gentry who is the man on the extreme right. Next to him is ticket collector Surridge, Fourth from right is Inspector T Mitchell (who died in 1938), and to his left is Signalman Rickman. The magazine is vague about the left hand end (and omits mention of third from right) but states the Engine Driver's name was Nutt, and he is probably one of the two on far left. No mention is made of other names or the photographer. Presumably Gentry asked the photographer for his own print after the image was developed. Perhaps the image in my book is a copy once owned by one of the others.

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