Police raids fail to recover shunter photos

Tuesday, August 25 2009


Hudswell Clarke industrial diesel shunter at Cae Harris.
From a photo by Andy Kirkham

(Click to see the rest of the photo and read a short article about the Taff Bargoed Joint Railway on the RMT Bristol website.)

There used to be lots of opportunities to photograph private industrial diesels working real trains all over the UK. Then the government provided road haulage companies with a nice new highly subsidised tarmac track. Freight traffic left rail for road in droves. The decline in traffic provided the excuse to destroy much of the country’s rail network. Then BR with government support abolished wagonload freight. All these changes meant that private rail networks became virtually extinct and the working private diesel shunter became an endangered species.

Train-spotter Stephen White was on a camping holiday in South Wales with his sister Helen and her two children. Imagine then his excitement when he tracked down a couple of Hunslet diesel hydraulics at Milford Haven. He wasted no time in taking out his camera and snapping them.

Then the White’s troubles started. His sister was woken in the early hours by a telephone on her mobile from a policeman demanding that she take her camera to a police station so that the photographs could be inspected. Miss White explained her brother was a railway enthusiast and hoped that would be the end of the matter. Police then swooped on the camp site the next day, again demanding to take the photos, and threatening to send Special Branch officers round to interrogate the Whites if they refused. In spite of the threats the police were met by a polite, but firm refusal. Finally next day, their car was pulled over by a police officer with his car’s blue lights flashing. Again, the officer demanded the camera and pictures, and again the Whites stood their ground.

Meanwhile Miss White’s home in Lincolnshire had had several visits from the police as had her sister and a next door neighbour. Dyspozytor salutes the brave Stephen and Helen with his favourite tipple, a glass of Zubrowka.

See a picture of one of the engines that Stephen White had photographed and read the whole story here:


One comment

  1. Have just seen your recent post on “Tunnel Vision”, “Police raids fail to recover shunter photos”. This, and other items on your blogs about similar happenings in Britain, make disquieting reading. We sneered at such attitudes and behaviour on the part of authority in the Communist half of Europe, decades ago – now, be damned if such stuff does not seem to be becoming the norm in our hitherto freedom-loving country.

    It is really lamentable that the excuse of precautions against terrorist action by ill-disposed parties, is letting stuff more readily associated with totalitarian states quietly become a matter of course here. Even though the majority of transport enthusiasts nowadays are interested only in photographing preserved / heritage stuff, it seems totally against the spirit of what we have long cherished about Britain, for those in authority to take a line of “That’s what gricers may direct their attention to; the minority in the ‘fancy’ who are keenly interested in commercial transport doings of whatever kind, are to be made the object of suspicion and persecution.”

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