Norman Preedy: – a real character and a local legend

With reference to Geoff Courtney’s obituary of Norman Preedy in the last issue, may I add my thoughts on someone who was a great friend and a superb and enthusiastic railway photographer.

Norman was a real character and quite a local legend held in the highest esteem. Having been born in Newton Abbot in the early 1940s and the son of a railway guard, it was inevitable that living at such an important railway centre he would be captivated by the beautiful Castle class locomotives. His early motivation was to capture images of these graceful machines for the chance of publication in the Ian Allan Combined Volumes, and so his progression into railway photography started.

Cutting edge: Heritage Railway reader Peter Skelton, a close friend of railway photographer Norman Preedy who died in November, says of this photograph from Norman’s negative collection: “During a conversation we were discussing No. 5017 The Gloucester Regiment 28th, 61st, the pride of Gloucester Horton Road shed that was kept immaculate, generally to haul the ‘Cheltenham Express’. Norman immediately went to his quarterplate collection and produced this gem, which was taken in Sonning Cutting near Twyford on an unrecorded date.” NORMAN PREEDY ARCHIVE

I got to know him in the late 1950s when we both lived at Gloucester. Being younger lads, we latched onto the older boys for guidance and took advantage of their knowledge into bunking sheds and avoiding the foreman. We even managed to bunk the former LMS Camden shed by timing our moment to duck below the foreman’s window to see the mighty Princess Coronations.

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When I was about 13, Norman took time out to show me his darkroom techniques and I watched the print magically appear in the developing dish. It had a great impact on me and I was inspired to take up photography myself, so much so that on leaving school I managed to get a job as a professional industrial photographer.

Norman was dedicated to his hobby throughout his life, and he and his best and loyal friend Ray Hinton managed to purchase other collections for posterity. Norman himself went on to acquire fabulous collections of which he was immensely proud, and it was something he did for the love of the subject, as he would never really gain any profit from the venture.

Read more of this and other Letters, Opinion, News and Views in Issue 250 of HR – on sale now!

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