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In the late '70s I managed to acquire several LPs of train recordings by Peter Handford on the Transaccord label. Even though they were in mono, they were evocative. Recordings such as the slow patient control required to start an A4 from King's Cross without slipping and the furious sound when it did; hearing a locomotive approaching from the distance up a steep gradient and the train clattering loudly as it passed; trying to learn how to distinguish 2, 3 and 4 cylinder locomotives from each other.

I lost interest in railways during the 80s and 90s and during that time LPs were replaced by CDs. Although I searched from time to time I never came across re-issues of the old Transaccord LPs. I had often wondered what became of Peter Handford and his recordings. My questions were answered last Wednesday evening when I chanced across his obituary in the Guardian Unlimited, he died late last year. You can read the obituary here on the Guardian website.

David
 

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I still have many of the railway EP's he produced, plus a few LP's. My favourite was his LP by the Lickey incline, although mono , the reproduction was excellent, the clarity even of the birds singing over the approaching distant trains was amazing,I did the wrong thing, lent it to a friend, and can't remember which one!!
Paul M.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
QUOTE his LP by the Lickey incline, although mono , the reproduction was excellent, the clarity even of the birds singing over the approaching distant trains was amazing

I think I might have that one. The recording starts off with birds singing. Then we hear the train approaching in the distance, working hard against the gradient.

I haven't had access to a turntable since I left home. I think I still have the records but I doubt they are "true" enough to play even if I had a player.

David
 

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His stereo 'Transacord' recordings were made available on CD by ASV. I believe they may have moved to another company now, but cannot check at present.

Peter Handford was a BBC trained recording engineer, and the stuff he got down on the equipment of the day is quite astounding. A personal favourite was taken on the Settle and Carlisle, where the distant voice of one of the station staff can be heard most distinctly explaining there will be a long delay because 'they're single lining'. He got all the good stuff too: A4's with chime whistle going, all kinds of Gresley beats, 8F's with that lovely hollow bark, Bulleid pacifics howling through Basingstoke; simply gorgeous. 200W a side, 20Hz to 20kHz range speakers, and YOU ARE THERE.
 
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