The Phoenix Railway Photographic Circle / Bob_Avery_2
Exhibition: The Human Element

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Bob Avery

Chargeman Nicky Carter in Stoke Yard 1980

Bill "Nicky" Carter was a hard working railwayman of the "Old School", for want of a better term. He was a chargeman (senior member of shunting staff) in Stoke Marshalling Yard, which was situated on the west side of the North Staffordshire main line adjacent to Stoke-on-Trent station. I was BR's Area Freight Assistant there from 1979 until 1981 and Nicky was a loyal member of my team. When on early shift starting at 0600, he would be at work by 0530, having already consumed a "hearty breakfast" before leaving home, prepared by his wife who would rise at an unspeakable hour to see he left for work suitably nourished. I was in the habit of occasionally taking my camera to work, and took the picture as my term at Stoke was coming to an end. The cigarette end is very much part of his appearnce - a habit which contributed to a premature death shortly after his retirement. I have no idea how he acquired the nickname.

Not really supposed to criticise my own shots!
This is the late "Nicky" Carter who was a chargeman in Stoke Yard. I took it while on duty as BR's Area Freight Assistant there in 1980. There's a very obvious processing mark or something to the right of Nicky. I seem to recall cropping it out when doing the original print, so not quite sure how it's ended up like this. (Bob Avery)


Pleasant portrait through window - which perhaps accounts for the missing foot. (Ian Cowley)


The whitish mark looks like a window reflection but whatever it is it certainly detracts from a pleasing character study. (David Flitcroft)


At first sight, the epitomy of the old-fashioned railway portrait – but look how many tell-tale details confirm this is the 1980s, not the ‘30s: overhead masts, AC electric train, diesel shunter, orange high-visibility vest, and double arrow cap-badge. (Martin Higginson)


This is just how I remember so many BR staff in those uniform days, old miserable and grumpy looking! Just a pity about losing a bit off his feet. (Jonathan Cordle)