Photographer captures Norfolk’s lost railways – then and now
- Credit: Archant
Where trains once ran, nature is now steadily reclaiming the ground. But the striking then-and-now photographs of Stuart McPherson are combining the two, as TREVOR HEATON discovered.
You can keep your cars and planes... no form of transport attracts quite so much nostalgia as the railways.
But Stuart McPherson is approaching the subject from an unusual, time-travelling angle.
The day job sees Stuart as an insurance broker but in his spare time he is a keen photographer, winning a growing following for his evocative re-creations of lost railways, especially the much-missed old M&GN line.
'My friend Nick Stone created the Norwich Blitz ghost image series which inspired me to try it out for myself,' he explained.
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'I'm not really interested in the train history side at all - it's the way that nature 'reclaims' these sites that I find fascinating. Frankly, I think it's amazing how quickly it does take it over.
'Railway lines opened up the modern world to us. Look at Melton Constable - when it began you had farmers complaining that their workers were leaving them because the railways paid more.'
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The seeds of the project go back to Stuart's childhood, when he used to go with walks with his mum along the track of an old line on the outskirts of Norwich. 'When she told me that there used to be a railway station at Hellesdon and I discovered the old platform under the bushes, I was hooked...'
Now modern computer technology is enabling Stuart to create these stunning composite images based on archive photographs. He has used the Norfolk Orbital Railway archive to create some of them and is looking to extend the range of subjects.
'I'm interested in any railway line in Norfolk but the M&GN is one I'm particularly interested in,' he said. As well as being a keen photographer, Stuart is a member of the Friends of Norwich City Station, Friends of Train Wood and is involved in running the Norfolk Railway Heritage Group. The site of Norwich City Station, badly damaged in the 'Baedecker raids', is close to where the Halfords store is on the inner ring road.
• If you can loan Stuart any archive images, contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org. And you can check out more of his pictures on Flickr here.