There can be few steam enthusiasts unfamiliar with the legendary Woodham Brothers scrapyard in Barry, South Wales which in the 1970s became the birthplace of the steam preservation movement.
Having been well aware of the Barry steam graveyard for many years, my dad began making semi-regular trips to the scrapyard in the mid-70s, a round trip from his home of over 600 miles. He often slept in his car before spending days photographing the locomotives and making preparatory drawings for what would become The Barry Collection of over 100 paintings. As an artist, the decaying hulks in the yard provided endless inspiration for his work. On his first visits, the sheer volume of locomotives in the sidings, packed so tightly together, made it very difficult to capture suitable material for his paintings – this is the main reason that The Barry Collection consists of locomotives that still remained in the yard during the mid-80s. By this time, the herd had thinned to around 60 locomotives, now exposed and far more accessible for photography and drawing, and he took over 1000 photographs cataloguing every detail.
Returning to his studio at home, he began painting the Barry locomotives, beginning in 1983 and continuing on and off for more than 25 years until 2008 when he had amassed over 100 paintings. The paintings in the Barry Collection are not only impressive in their beauty and precision but also in scale, with many of the paintings in excess of 7 feet wide. One painting, depicting 3 locomotives end to end, weighs in at over 12 feet – a painting he constructed the canvas stretcher for in his studio. Only after the painting was complete did he realise that it was impossible to get it out of the studio due to its size and there it remains to this day!
The Barry Collection is not to everyone’s taste and many steam enthusiasts find it upsetting to see the locomotives in such a terrible state of repair, but in my dad’s eyes, the visual appeal of the subject matter matched or surpassed his love of the polished, restored locomotives so commonly seen in railway art.
In later years, he would go on to paint many of the locomotives from Barry in their restored state at heritage railways around the UK. These paintings can be seen in the Locomotives in Profile section of this website.
If you know the specific locomotive number, enter it below.
My dad first started drawing and painting his steam artwork at Tanfield Railway, the world's oldest railway, located only a mile from our family home. The work from Tanfield depicts the day to day life of the railway in the sheds and sidings, rather than focusing on particular locomotives.
Although not a major part of his collection, my dad did occasionally produce paintings of locomotives in their day-to-day working environment. He often used photographs he had taken during trainspotting trips in the 1950's and 60's, re-imagining the black and white images into full colour paintings.
The Locomotives in Profile collection depicts engines from a side profile view, many of which my dad had already painted prior to restoration at Barry. Painted on extremely large canvases typically in excess of 6 feet wide, the detail and technical precision of these paintings is unrivalled.