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Page last updated at 14:57 GMT, Monday, 26 April 2010 15:57 UK
Devon railway images which will never run out of steam
By Laura Joint
BBC Devon

Steam train near Teignmouth (Norman Lockett)
Emerging from Parson's Tunnel near Teignmouth

Norman Lockett was a pharmacist with Boots the Chemist.

In the years before and after the war, he would work five-and-a-half days a week, but it didn't stop him taking thousands of photos of trains and railway stations in his spare time.

Now, decades later, some of those images are published in a new book by his son, David, who lives in Torbay.

"The vast majority of the photographs have never been seen before," David told BBC Devon.

"It was just my father's hobby, it's what he loved to do in his spare time, he never knew that the places and things he was taking pictures of wouldn't be there much longer."

Mutley Station in Plymouth
Mutley Station in Plymouth - long since gone

Many of the photos in the Norman Lockett archive were taken when the family lived in Plymouth in the 1930s before fleeing the blitz in 1940 - although the stunning image at the top of this page of the train emerging from Parson's Tunnel near Teignmouth was taken in the late 1940s, after they returned from their refuge in Weston-super-Mare.

Some 200 photos are in a book, Great Western Steam 1934-1949, co-written by David and Mike Arlett and launched in May 2010. Many of the images are from Devon.

"My father took about 4,000 photographs, and they are glass plate photos, which makes it all the more remarkable," said David, 73, from Paignton.

"Bearing in mind he would catch public transport to the locations where he would set up all his equipment - glass plates in a loader and his camera, which was a Thornton-Pickard.

"The summer season was for photography.

Steam train near Burrator, 1934
This photo was taken near Burrator in 1934

"Being a pharmacist, he knew all about chemicals. He would develop the photos in the cupboard under the stairs and would produce contact prints later, followed by the enlargements, which would be washed in the bath. "

David's father died in 1983. All the photos in their glass plates are now in David's possession.

Perhaps the toughest job was selecting the 200 or so photos to use: "It was difficult choosing the pictures," said David. "It took over two years to get to this stage.

"Mike and I put all this hard work in as a tribute to the quality of my father's photography.

"And I thought it would be nice to share the photos with the people of Devon because many of the places have completely changed.

"Like Mutley station in Plymouth, for example, which is no longer there."

For someone who loved to take photos, Norman Lockett was shy in front of the camera: "We have very few photos of my father," said David. "He never liked having his picture taken."

* Great Western Steam 1934-1949 by David Lockett and Mike Arlett is published by Lightmoor Press.

The book is being launched by the authors at the Torbay Book Shop in Paignton at 11.30am on Saturday 8 May 2010.

All photos on this page by Norman Lockett, reproduced with permission.

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