Introduction to photo archive by Brian Mills

"The idea of photographing the permanent way, generally as seen by the ganger on track, seemed the perfect way to amass a photo-archive of both, lifted and active railway lines in the South Wales and selected other areas of BR Western Region and successors. From this, it will be appreciated how much effort went into creating the routes in the first place and subsequently the high level of maintenance that was and is required not only to keep the track, bridges, tunnels and viaducts fit for purpose but also keep the lineside clear of vegetation.

The earlier records of South Wales permanent way in this library, show that as branches were shut down, miles of track had only just been re-ballasted and the 6ft-way, cesses, embankments and cuttings were in pristine condition and a credit to the Per Way gangs, although on many rural routes there were speed restrictions, pending track renewal. The lines that remained, soon succumbed to less maintenance as staffing was reduced and so, many cuttings became almost enveloped in overhanging trees as the steam fleet disappeared, thus reducing fire risk to lineside vegetation in hot summer periods.

This historical survey also includes some locomotive shots and a large cross-section of fast disappearing GWR/BRWR semaphore signal assemblies and ancillary equipment used for the safe passage of trains, signalling adding a touch of colour to a generally brown and green landscape. Many features and the development of certain heritage railways are also included.

Initially, times and dates of photographs were not recorded, the earliest shots being taken with cheap cameras, starting in about 1959 but after 1963, serious thought was given to noting the time, date and wherever possible, the exact locations in miles and chains. The latter feature has proved to be no easy task since some of the lines surveyed, bore no mileposts and those that did, meant that the photo location had to be assessed by estimated distance from a milepost and possibly confirmed later. Establishing the Engineers' Line References (ELRs) was another task necessary to give this historic record a professional edge.

Were it not for the kind assistance of Area Managers of the former British Railways, Western Region and later, certain Permanent Way Maintenance Engineers of the new order of the nationalised network, with some influence of the former South Wales Permanent Way Institution's Section Secretaries on my behalf, it would have not been possible to achieve this massive photo-library by direct access to the track, generally unassisted, and so personal safety was of prime importance.

With such backing, up to 1992, line surveys were made, having the necessary insurance and working knowledge, which satisfied the BR Board, and access to probably 80% of the recorded content, was possible. The remainder has been achieved by access to public overbridges, railway foot-crossings and of late (2006), by accompanied Network Rail/Contract staff overseeing permanent way remodelling of infrastructure. More recently, some of the records have been asked for by Contract or Network Rail Per Way staff where it was known that their own officials were not fully covering an entire project's progress by way of photography.

In Wales, with nearly all public information now being printed in English and Welsh, spellings of place names has been influenced so some may appear different from that which one is accustomed to.

I must thank Philip Toogood for his IT skills in putting this work into a macro-linked computer format and I dedicate the work to Network Rail PW Staff and the Permanent Way Institution who I have had the honour to be associated with for over 43 years."

Brian Mills, Hon. Life Member, PWI South & West Wales Section. September 2006

For a better example of the "then & now" settings that I am arranging the photos into please take a look the examples of Tonteg Junction alongside the Taff Valley, South Wales. OS Ref. 309650,186600

Current Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet (Excel Viewer)

1-50 51-100 101-150 151-200 201-250 251-300 301-350 351-400 401-450 451-500
501-550 551-600 601-650 651-700 701-750 751-800 801-850 851-900 901-950 951-1000
1001-1050 1051-1100 1101-1150 1151-1200 1201-1250 1251-1300 1301-1350 1351-1400 1401-1450 1451-1500
1501-1550 1551-1600 1601-1650 1651-1700 1701-1750 1751-1800 1801-1850 1851-1900 1901-1950 1951-2000
2001-2050 2051-2100 2101-2150 2151-2200 2201-2250 2251-2300 2301-2350 2351-2400 2401-2450 2451-2500
2501-2550 2551-2600 2601-2650 2651-2700 2701-2750 2751-2800 2801-2850 2851-2900 2901-2950 2951-3000
3001-3050 3051-3100                

Photo Pricing & Payment Methods

All of these photos are for sale in the format of a 300dpi JPG scan only at present. Please note that at this time I do not provide photographic prints of these images. The cost of decent equipment is far too prohibitive & to be honest most decent photo shops & even Tesco or ASDA now offer a print from CD service far superior to anything I could offer. I can do this on your behalf if required but subsequent costs would have to be passed onto yourself.

I've decided to start at a base price of £3 for a single photo with a sliding scale based on quantity. For any request of quantity I have attempted to figure out a fair price based on market research. As far as the actual deliverable to yourselves, I can offer various stages of service detailed below. All images have been scanned from the original photo at 300dpi so will print well at the same size as the original on most common printers. If you wish to have larger versions of these photos I will have to rescan at a higher resolution that will inevitably cost more. Please enquire if you require this service.

Standard Scanned Image Pricing Structure & Deliverables
Item Description Cost Each Photo
1-5 Photos (300dpi) 1-5 images scanned from original photo in 300dpi JPG form £3.00
6-10 Photos (300dpi) 6-10 images scanned from original photo in 300dpi JPG form £2.50
11-25 Photos (300dpi) 11-25 images scanned from original photo in 300dpi JPG form £2.00
26-50 Photos (300dpi) 26-50 images scanned from original photo in 300dpi JPG form £1.50
50+ Photos (300dpi) 50+ images scanned from original photo in 300dpi JPG form POA
To receive these images I can of simply email them directly therefore saving on postage costs. Included in the price is a comprehensive listing of all known details of each photo in MS Excel form. Please let me know if you require this data or the images in any other format.

Please note that any images required at a higher dpi than 300 would be significantly larger in file size & likely not possible to send via email. It would also require tracking down the original photographs from the archives & rescanning them. Any such requests would incur an addition cost to take into account the time & effort it would take to carry out this task. For most needs, 300dpi is more than sufficient unless you plan to print out blown up copies of the images larger than the original photograph.

For a little extra I can provide any collection on a multimedia CD/DVD that could be played on your TV via a conventional DVD player or played on your PC. Included in this deliverable I will provide a navigable database & interactive map to aid with current location. Please be aware that any map will be limited in detail so as to not fall foul of Ordnance Survey copyright laws. All such requests will be compiled at the time so please be patient with such requests.

Single Line or Bespoke Studies Pricing Structure & Deliverables
Item Description Cost Each Photo
Barry Railway Study covers from Barry Pier to Trehafod. Also includes Vale of Glamorgan line, Creigiau & associated branch lines. POA
Taff Vale Railway Study covers from Cardiff Dock & Taff Valley POA
Many of the photos in my collection fit well into a complete single line or regional study. Many of these are still to be catalogued but a number are already complete. I will list specific studies as I define them but if you would like any bespoke collection please let me know & I'll tailor a deliverable to your requirements where possible. One example would be to include any photos you have of a particular location from the past or present in your collection.

Included in these specific studies are all available past & present images for each location, an interactive list & map for full detail & location reference. Please see attached spreadsheet linked below for full database details & the link to MS Excel viewer of you don't have Excel installed.

Preferred method of payment is via PayPal for security & speed of response. Any other forms of payment such as Cheque, Postal Order are of course subject to postal & bank clearance times.

Current Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet (Excel Viewer)

ALL photographs remain copyright of Brian Mills/Phil Toogood & may not be reproduced anywhere for profit or otherwise without express permission of the copyright holders. Details of this site are subject to change at any time. Please contact me via for any further enquiries.