Steer for the deep waters only

Robert Day's thoughts on his photography, his writing and his business

Beware the Flesh Hovels, my son

with 4 comments

My stand at Cossrail, Barrow-on-Soar

A nice trip out last weekend, displaying my wares at the Cossrail model railway show at Barrow-on-Soar in Leicestershire. I had an interesting conversation with a couple from an independent video production firm, Nest Films, whose work is very professional and worth looking at. I also ended up chatting with people from my home town, Belper in Derbyshire (it’s a small world) and took an order for some pictures of Scropton crossing in Staffordshire. But it was good to get out and just show my face and my work. Oh, and someone came to the show in their everyday classic – a rather nice Triumph Herald 13/60 convertible…

Triumph Herald 13/60

All that and a rather wonderful local road name, too.

A desirable address?

My best news this week has been that I have signed the contract to produce my first book – The Lost railway – the Midlands – for Ian Allan. My working title for this project was “The lost world of British Rail”, because in the period 1971-89 I took a lot of photographs of disappearing steam age railway infrastructure (and the odd train or two). It was my father’s idea – he’d been involved in the West Coast main line resignalling, but left the railway when he started to be asked to work on projects to remove railways rather than modernise them. So in that period, we spent a lot of time travelling the country photographing Victorian stations, signal boxes and goods sheds, and their associated paraphernalia – mechanical signals, cast-iron warning signs, platform luggage trolleys, yard cranes and the 101 other things that have long since disappeared from the railway without anyone really noticing. The pictures are hardly of any great artistic merit, but you can’t go out and take them today, and they show a world that has disappeared in just a very few years. We covered a lot of territory in those eighteen years, though in the end it was getting harder and harder to find infrastructure that hadn’t been modernised, gentrified or removed. Even then, there was a lot that we missed, but when I contemplate the list of places we did get to, I feel quite a sense of achievement. And of course, this was in the days before officialdom frowned on photography in public places, either because of security or “commercial confidentiality”. A couple of examples of this work are attached.  Truly a lost world.

Penrhyndeudraeth signal box interior, 1971

Portmadoc - level crossing and signal box, 1971


Written by robertday154

May 13, 2011 at 12:07 am

4 Responses

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  1. Nice to read your latest news, and congratulations on getting started on a new book for Ian Allen. No news regarding your insurance claims re April break-in?
    Best regards
    Ps I have not heard of an accept or reject of my photo of TALIESYN that I submitted to Steam Railway some 3 weeks ago.

    Myrddin Jones

    May 13, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    • Myrddin,

      Latest on the insurance is that my claim has been rejected; apparently, when I applied three years ago, I should have realised that when they asked “Has your property been underpinned in the past five years?”, what they really meant was “has your property ever been underpinned?”. And of course, if the answer to the second question is “yes”, then they don’t want your business for any sort of insurance. As a result, my insurance has been declared null and void, though they admit that their question was misleading and so will refund my premiums. (My property was underpinned in 1993 and has shown no further signs of movement.) So now I have to get new insurance – which isn’t exceptionally easy – as well as meeting the cost of reparations out of my own pocket. This one will probably run and run.


      May 13, 2011 at 2:12 pm

  2. That has to be the most fascinating place name I’ve ever heard. What could it mean? A place they kept pigs perhaps?

    Find an Outlet

    May 19, 2011 at 6:48 am

    • I’ve now done a little research, and it appears to relate to the days when the Quorn Hunt was located nearby. Apparently, the Flesh Hovel was where old horses (and probably other beasts) were slaughtered and hung before being fed to the hounds. Ah, the quaintness of the English countryside!


      May 19, 2011 at 11:02 pm

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