Alan Baylis

"The Man In The Green Coat"


There are many good reasons not to do a 'me' page and I'm about to ignore them all!  So if you don't want to read about me or my passion for class 25 locos then use the back button on the browser or the link at the bottom of this page.

Who Am I?

Born April 1954, Birmingham, England and still living there.  Started Train Spotting in 1967 at the age of thirteen, just too late to become interested in steam engines as by then they had gone from the West Midlands.  In the mid 70's I had started to concentrate on railway photography, albeit with was substandard equipment.  By the end of that decade many of my photographs had been published in books and magazines and things would probably have continued along those lines had I not met someone whose interest was 'bashing', rather than 'spotting' or photography.  Up to then I had not even bothered to record the locos I had been hauled by but things were to rapidly change.  For those who don't know 'bashing' is like train spotting but much harder as you have to be on a train hauled by that loco before you can count it.  Back then railway photography was more of an individualistic hobby but bashing is (or alas was) much more of a social thing and I learnt much by sitting in the 8/9a Waiting Room at Birmingham New Street station, listening to the more experienced locals and then copying their 'moves'.  By 1980 I was rapidly moving away from the scenic form of railway photography to that of capturing rare freight engines on their infrequent passenger train workings.

In 1980 I clocked up over 109,000 miles on BR and it was over 100,000 again the following year.  It was most likely 1980 when I had over 1,800 different locos for haulage and subsequently featured on local radio/TV and in both local and national newspapers.  (That was my '15 minutes' of fame as Andy Warhol would say).  However that is not what this website is about so why did class 25 locos become my passion?  In hindsight it's probably a combination of the enthusiasm a friend I knew on the Crewe - Cardiff bash had for these locos and a consequence of what I had achieved by the early 80s.  By that time I 'ranked', if there ever was such a thing, in the top five UK bashers for chasing New Engines and was known by many in Scotland and the South by the nickname "The Man In The Green Coat".  Perhaps not quite as slick as 'Burntisland', 'Crowsnest' or any of the 8/9 Roadshow nicknames but indicative of how I used to suddenly appear from nowhere for a rare working or a days bashing in that locality and then, keeping a low profile, quietly slip off to another area of the country.  However by 1983 there were not many New Engines left for me to chase so my attention turned to 'mileage moves'.  At that time I had more class 86 miles than anyone else but they were hardly a charismatic class of locomotive it has to be said and were extremely easy to get, living as I did in the West Midlands.  By chance I also had more class 25 miles than anyone else and whilst I had cleared all electric locos for haulage I still needed a few 25s.  That was to make class 25 locos my main railway interest for the next four years.

When you talk of the 'mileage men' of popular classes you are talking about people whose class mileage totals will be close to or in excess of a million miles (or at least for those following Deltics, 47s and 50s it will be so) but to be considered a top class 25 mileage man all you needed was something like 30,000 miles.  By the time the last class 25 loco had been withdrawn I had amassed 70,000 but their demise also meant the end of my interest in bashing.  So by the end of the decade I had retired to 'normality'.  I don't regret doing what I did during those years, the overnight moves, the car leaps and such like are all recalled on the Recollections pages you will find on this site (but missing just one class 37 loco for haulage still pains me!)  When you look at this website please don't think of it as just being about 'me'.  Naturally most of the stories and photos will be mine but spare a thought for my friends and companions who provided most of the information you find here.  They did their own moves and have their own stories of successes (and failures) to tell.  Whether they are from the Birmingham 8/9 or Rat Roadshow I owe them all sincere thanks for their company during those years.  I hope those that followed have been good for you.

(I told you not to read this part so now put the handkerchief away and get back to the main site!).

Photographic Equipment

My first foray into 35mm photography came when I upgraded from Instamatics (and useless pictures) to a compact camera and acceptable pictures, until I knocked the lens out with a golf ball. (OK, I had asked my brother to photograph me hitting a golf ball towards a hole. I hit it too hard and it went over the hole!) Unfortunately the tail end of that era coincides with the start of this website. In 1975 I moved on to my first SLR, a Yashica TL Electro, and a Vivitar zoom lens. Pictures improved overnight and I also started to develop and print my own photographs. That was bulky equipment and in the late 70's I acquired both an Olympus OM1 and OM2 camera and a 35mm and 75-150mm zoom lens.  Those became my main photographic tools during the years covered by this site (and still remain in use today along with my digital camera). 

Whilst my photographic collection goes back to the very early 70's most of the early pictures are not usable.  I still retain many of them but they show all the mistakes an enthusiastic teenager would make.  I learnt how to take good photographs from my close friends of that era, Steve and Mike.  We upgraded our camera equipment, as and when we could afford to, I took the Olympus route whilst they went with Pentax and Cannon equipment.  A friendly rivalry grew between us as to who could take the best photographs (and hindsight says it was Steve Burdett who had the edge on both of us).  At that time we concentrated on photographing Westerns (class 52) locos and every week we would head south on whatever special offer tickets were available from the West Midlands.  At one point I had photographs of all 74 Westerns at Plymouth Laira shed (but some shots were of decidedly poor quality and by now only unidentifiable negatives of these locos remain in my collection).

The photographs on this site were originally scanned from negatives or slides using a Nikon Coolscan III scanner but I have now acquired a Super Coolscan 5000 and rescanning those images where quality can be improved.  All images are then passed through Paint Shop Pro to 'clean and resize' them for publication.  The colours on those in my collection from the early 70's have started to fade and considerable effort has (and will continue to be spent even after they appear on this site) been put into trying to return them to a satisfactory condition.  It is fair to say that I have spent almost an hour on each image you see on this site in getting them into the shape you can now see.  When chasing Westerns colour slide film was my standard media but when my attention switched to 'bashing' black and white film became my choice as I could develop and print that at home, sometimes months after the films had been exposed.  (Incredible though it may seem only recently have I got round to actually printing and logging the photographs I took from 1981 onwards).

Links   Home Page   Rat Roadshow