The Reginald Batten Collection: specially featuring the Great Northern and Great Eastern lines of the LNER
A book by Malcolm Batten
I normally don’t look at books on random narrow topics that I’m not particularly familiar with, and you honestly can’t get more narrow than a collection of a photographer’s trainspotting pictures from the first half of last century, but this looked interesting so I decided to give it a whirl. The book is comprised of the photographs by the popular railroad photographer Reg Batten, as collected and organized by his son Malcolm Batten, who himself is a noted author on transportation history in the UK. Mostly, what interested me in this book was the story behind the preservation of one man’s obsession for decades – chronicling the end of the steam era in modern Britain for upwards of fifty years. I honestly know almost nothing about this topic, but I know good historical photographs when I see them, and these are amazing. Seeing the hundreds of different train models and configurations makes one realize that we take small things like the history of transportation for granted, or as some kind of monolithic industry when it’s not.
“Reg Batten was a railway and transport photographer, who started taking pictures in the early 1930s, mostly on the Great Northern and Great Eastern sections of the L N E R. He later started taking pictures elsewhere on the railway network, covering other companies, also looking at other forms of transport like traffic on the river Thames. This is the first book of Reg Batten’s work, covering his railway photography from the early 1930s, through wartime into the 1950s, and steam on into the preservation era. This volume not only covers locomotive types but also looks at locations and interesting features of the railway scene at that time.”
Overall, I was glad I read this despite not really having too much of an interest in this or any real way to pursue it any further due to living VERY far away from any of the locales and museums mentioned. We have train museums here, and I have been to a few of them, but rarely do you see preserved steam locomotives or intact old train stations in the area that I live in. It’s still an interesting story, and I feel like any person with a passion for a topic would strive to be honored in such a way by their family. To him, taking all those photographs was a way to make money or to form a personal collection, but now they can live on forever and be shared with the world. If you are into Trainspotting or the history of transport, this is a cool book.
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NOTE: I received a free preliminary, and likely unedited copy of this book from Netgalley for the purposes of providing an honest, unbiased review of the material. Thank you to all involved.