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Cromford and High Peak Railway Picture Album…
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Cromford and High Peak Railway Picture Album

by Tony Broome

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A collection of photographs of Derbyshire's remarkable Cromford & High Peak Railway, a line built at the very dawn of railways to connect two canals. It was originally planned as a canal until someone considered the difficulties of maintaining a water supply on top of the High Peak, a limestone massif noted for the scarcity of its water supplies. So it was built as one of those new-fangled railways instead, even if it consisted of level sections punctuated by inclined planes where stationary engines pulled wagons up the slope by means of a cable, instead of level sections punctuated by flights of locks. Closed in 1967 after 130 years of service, the trackbed was purchased by the local council and converted to a long-distance footpath/cycleway.

This is a slender volume of photographs collected by the author over twenty years. Some of them are his own pictures; others are purchased or collected from the families of men who worked the railway. As a consequence, there are many pictures here that have not been seen before.

But I have to be critical. The author has been totally cavalier with the matter of copyright. A few of the photographs I did recognise and could name the photographer (a well-known British railway photographer who was active from the 1920s to the 1970s, and whose work was regularly published and is not out of copyright). Not a single photograph is credited (good practice even if the original is out of copyright); there are no acknowledgements; and the author claims sole copyright. This is just not acceptable. There is no mention of rights acquisition; even if prints were purchased or loaned, that does not automatically give the right to reproduce.

The book dates from 1985, so I doubt that anyone was too bothered then; it was not produced by a mainstream publisher and probably never made any money for the author. I've been following the fortunes and the history of the C&HPR almost since it closed, and I had never seen this book before. The author would be 81 now, if he is still alive, and the owners of copyright are even longer in the tooth. But certainly the copyright in the published photographs should be acknowledged. I know that in the 1980s we were less concerned with this sort of thing, but the law on copyright was no less clear then than it is now. As a matter of principle, I have to make it clear that this book, no matter how useful or interesting, tramples rough-shod over the rights of photographers long since dead but some of whose work will have had copyright renewed through their executors or current rights holders. This was no less important then than it is now, in our connected world where photographs are considered common currency by far too many people.
  RobertDay | Jul 12, 2015 |
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