I decided to try out the ‘Ghost’ style of photo-merging after my friend Nick Stone started to share his wonderful ‘Blitz ghost’ images, inspired by the wonderful work of Sergey Larenkov. I didn’t want to copy these projects, so I turned my attention to something that I could connect with personally. Near to my home is the old disused M&GN railway, now the Marriott’s Way, which I grew up playing on, exploring and using to cycle my way out into the beautiful Norfolk Countryside.
The thought that trains used to run along here carrying passengers and freight fascinated me and I always used to wish that I could travel back in time to see how it all looked. At about the same time I also became involved with forming a group of local history enthusiasts named the ‘Norfolk Railway Heritage Group’ who decided to excavate the remains of the bomb-damaged Norwich City Center Railway station that nobody knew was still there, hidden in the mud by the River Wensum. As we uncovered about 80 feet of mostly intact platform from the mud, this gave me further inspiration to create these ghost images. I created a couple and shared them through Social Media and I was rather surprised by how popular they became, so decided to carry on producing them. The more I produced, the more people came to me with rare photographs of the Midland and Great Northern, GER and British Rail to use to create further Ghosts and from then on in I was hooked.
The feeling I’m trying to convey with these images is that in the space of about 100 years the railways came along changed the world in an instant. They opened up entire countries to relatively fast and easy transportation overnight and sparked the modern way of life that we now take for granted. After the massive cuts to rail services in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s they then disappeared just as quickly. The rails were quickly removed and most of the railway furniture was demolished, sold off or stolen; nature wasted no time reclaiming what the Victorian Railway pioneers had created, making it almost impossible to imagine how the scene looked over half a century ago.
This is where the Ghost Image comes into its own; creating a window into the past, wiping away the bushes and scrub so that we can see what was once there, whilst remaining connected to how it looks today, and as a bonus satisfying my inner-child’s curiosity.
It wasn’t just the railways that I turned my ghosting attentions to. I love local social history and people’s stories, and have also been given old pictures of local people posing outside their homes, or having a day out, and even one of my late mother on her wedding day. These have turned out to be personal favourites of mine, and something I might explore a bit further in the future if I get the time.