Japanese Coloured Woodcut Print • Late19C

Here is a three-panel coloured woodcut from Japan. It shows the the first train to leave Yokohama. The print is from the late 19C.

I’ve always liked the graphic style of these images. I love the way the flat-colour 2D shapeshift into 3D and space…and that these images help invent the modern poster and the psychedelic experimentation of the 1960s.

I’ll be posting a few more railway themed images from Japan.

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Smoke + Steam • 1950s

Here is a lovely picture of a steam loco, just like a ghost…

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People who Run the Railway • Robert Doisneau • 1960s

The French photographer, Robert Doisneau, has taken lots of pictures of the French railways…some of these were official, others were more informal.

This is an image of holidaymakers in la France profonde, circa 1940 it turns out.

I was amazed to find that the station, in the middle-of-nowhere, is Carlux, in the Dordogne. I know Carlux because my family have a house there. It is a tiny village, and I can confirm that it is, indeed, in the middle-of-nowhere.

Even more amazingly, Doisneau loved the area and had holidays there over a long period.

Who knows, I might even have seen him when I was small…

I wish I’d known that then.

PS I’ve been researching into Doisneau and the Dordogne…it turns out that he visited the area over a number of years and took photos of Sarlat and Souillac..and worked for the foix gras producers, Rougie. I’ll check it all out.

I looked more closely at the photo too. Look at the track; not many trains going through.


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People who Run the Railway • Salgado • SNCF • 2010

It’s been great to look at historic images of the people who ran the railways…

There are lots of photo images. You can imagine how delighted I was to discover that Salgado had been invited to document the life of the SNCF through its employees.

In France, the generic title for a railway worker is cheminot…an in the old days, the association with the railway provided for a secure and permanent employment. In fact, the French railway recruited, like the old British Civil Service, by examination.

One of the key roles on the railway was to look after the rural roads…and employees were given a small house of standrad form, next to a lvel crossing and wwith a vegetable garden attached.

I’ve been interested in the specific history of these vegetable plots for a while. I love it when various interest come together.


I discovered that Robert Doisneau has also taken lots of ptictures of trains and people.



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French Paper Loco Model • 1950s

The French have a long tradition of coloured paper cut-out models…this story begins with paper figures associated with the playhouse and with the battlefield…

I posted before about these kinds of images, here



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Swiss Trackside • 1940

Another lovely picture of tracks, buildings and people…this time from Switzerland.

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Boulogne sur Mer • 1890s

I like these coloured prints of provincial railway stations and seaside views. Usually, they are black-and-white albumen prints with hand-colouring added, through a pochoire stencil.

The French were very good at producing these kinds of images.

The combination of colour and black-and-white produces an interesting two dimensional effect…the coloured elements seem to float in relation to each other. Not the floating world, but something a bit like it.

John Hinde was a photographer who did something similar in Britain during the 1950s with Butlins holiday camps…and Sir Peter Blake’s collages have a similar spatial set-up.

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Limoges Railway Station • 1920s

Ages agi, I posted about the way that modernist architects have tried to satck the railway station platforms above and beneath the ground. This makes for a better footprint,

Here is a picture of Limoges stato in France. I know this because it is on the line between Paris and Toulouse, and all the express trains stop there.

I remembered that Limoges station is in an art-nouveau style, although built much later than the original style.

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French + Fast • 1950s

Lovely speedy artwork…

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The People who Run the Railway • 1900

I love the photographs of all the people, from top to bottom, who help run the railway.

The railway system, in its mechanical form, quickly became a very large employer…and, from the early days nwards, photographs recorded every aspect of the enterprise. These images attest to the evident pride, both individual and collective, afforded by the railway.

I like that.

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