Casserley: father & son
Henry Cyril Casserley was born on 12 June 1903 in Clapham, South London,
son of Edward Casserley, a minor Post Office official.He died on 16 December
1991. Henry spent his working life in the head offices of the Prudential
Assurance Company in London (evacuated to Derby in WW2). He married Kathleen
Goose on 16 July 1931. Full details of their family are not published, but
they had at least one son, Richard, born 1936 or 1937, who also took up
photography and has latterly acted as custodian of his father's collection.
an exceptionally persistent photographer, especially during the period between
1920 and 1951, and he covered an extraordinary mileage initially by train
(there are charming photographs of his honeymoon taken in some unlikely locations
in the Scottish Highlands, including one in a Pullman observation car, and
later by car which features in many of the photographs. There are few historical
features on either locomotives or obscure branch lines which do not include
a few of his photographs.
The family lived beside the railway line just east of Bromley South railway station from 1931 to 1939 but moved to a house on a new estate at Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, because the electrification of the Southern Railway greatly reduced the number of steam trains passing Bromley. Casserley acquired his first motor car in 1934, which aided his reaching obscure small railway lines and investigating windmills, in which he had also developed an interest. He was in military service from 19421944, mostly based in the Army stores section at Bicester, but was invalided out and returned to his job at the Prudential. He retired in 1964 and devoted himself to his 'second career' as photographer and writer. His wife died in about 1986 and his interest and memory then declined until his death, aged 88.
H. C. Casserley's first camera was a Kodak no.2 folding Brownie with f/8 Rapid rectilinear lens acquired in 1919, but this was soon replaced by a professional standard Butcher's 'Popular Pressman' quarter-plate reflex camera (using 4¼" x 3¼" glass plates). In 1937 he replaced it with one of the new Leica 35 mm cameras, which was much more convenient and served him until the end of his career, being replaced with an identical model when the original was stolen in 1963. Despite a few experiments with early commercial colour film, he remained committed to the black-and-white medium to the end and always did his own processing and printing. He was meticulous in keeping records of his negatives, using a numbering system he later shared with his son, and estimated that he had personally taken 60,000 railway subjects by 1972, in some fifty-two years of work. He started by recording locomotives, usually 'on shed' because of the bulk of his camera and the slow film speeds, but he expanded his range to cover scenes in and around stations as his desire to travel over all lines of railway in the British Isles took him to obscure corners of the railway system. There are many characteristic broadside shots of Southern Railway locos 'at the bottom of the garden' in Bromley in the 1930s, but generally he had little time for the scenic movement in railway photography, being strictly a 'photographer of record'. He largely stopped photographing railways with the end of steam traction on British Railways and Córas Iompair Éireann.
Important record photographer both of locomotives and of branch lines. Much of his travel was by car (which features in many of his photographs). His 1937 Hillman Minx is shown on a transit through the Severn Tunnel on a flat truck at Pilning station see Backtrack, 2016, 30, 484). His wife also features in many of the earlier pictures, including many taken on their honeymoon, including ones taken in the Pullman observation car Maid of Morvern on the Oban line. . See: Baker, Michael H.C. Taking the strain: . Much of his output was recorded both in articles and in books Tribute from R.C. Riley (Br. Rly. J., 1992, (40), 11.)..
Britain's joint lines. London, Ian Allan,
1968. 224pp. 233 illus., 11 tables.
Includes detailed notes and tabulated data on the locomotive stocks.
The historic locomotive pocketbook: from the "Rocket" to the end of steam. London, Batsford, 1960.256 p. 202 illus.
A chronological selection.
LNER steam, 1923-1948. Truro: Bradford Barton.
Some of the individual pages are noteworthy. Thus page 13 features the fully streamlined W1 No. 10000 passing Potters Bar golf course, and below it streamlined B17 No. 2870 City of London climbing Brentwood bank overhauling a B12 (No. 8540) on a slow train on 15 July 1939. Another page features the U1 2-8-8-2 Garratt at Wentworth Junction on 18 April 1947 above Sentinel railcar No. 265 Neptune on Durham Viaduct in May 1935. The location for the picture of No. 10000 was selected again for a picture of the Royal Train en route to Sandringham hauled by Royal Claud Hamilton No. 8783. Some of the best photographs occupy two pages: this includes that of a GNR 4-4-0 No. 4348 at Kirkby Stephen en route towards Stainmore.
Locomotive cavalcade, 1920-1951: a comprehensive
review, year by year, of the changes in steam locomotive development and
design which have taken place on the railways of the British Isles between
the years 1920 and 1951.. Berkhamsted: Author, 1952. 216pp. +
col. front. + 2 col. plates. 294 iIIus.
Originally began as series of six articles in Railway Magazine Vol. 96. Confined to work of author/photographer and ordered on a year-by-year basis. Several of the pictures were taken from the gardens of author's homes in Beckenham and then Berkhamsted. Colour frontispiece and two colour plates. It is not clear which of the colour material is based on colour photography (if any) and which was prepared from coloured images. Sadly his descriptive skills were not great: he merely described the MGNJR livery as yellow.. .
The observer's book of railway locomotives of Britain. London, Warne, rev. ed. 1960. 282 p. + 8 col. plates 243 iIIus. (Observer's pocket series No. 23).
Casserley, H.C. and Asher, L.L. Locomotives of British Railways.
London, Spring Books, rev. ed. 1965. 428 p. 710 illus.
Originally published in four sections: one for each prenationalization railway
Casserley, H.C. and Asher, L.L. Locomotives of British Railways; London, Midland & Scottish group: a pictorial record. London, Andrew Dakers, 1955.114 p. 172 illus.
Casserley, H.C.. and Johnston, S.W.
Locomotives at the grouping: London, Midland and Scottish Railway. London, Ian Allan, 1966. 192 p. + 32 plates. 126 illus., 299 tables.
A 1923 stock list.