The scans shown are of the front and back of the stock photos. On ordering any images we will scan the actual negative and you will then receive the print from the negative and not the scan from the photo. Raymond Simpson's photographs, RHG Simpson, known as Ray to his friends
Ray was born on 30th October 1925 at a house in Friar Street Oxford, but when he was a small child his parents decided to buy a new semi-detached house in Kennington a village just outside Oxford. The New house had the main Oxford to Didcot railway line at the bottom of the garden. There was also the junction with the Thame branch which was often busy taking cars to and from Cowley car factory and Kennington signal box. In the 1930's train spotting was a very popular hobby amongst young boys and Ray was in an ideal situation to do this. In those days the signalman could get away with entertaing boys like Ray in the signal box. This was before number collectors books were available and Ray made his own books with seemingly endless lists of engine numbers and names. Ray and a group of friends also used to meet at Port Meadow in Oxford where the steam engines could be seen and "copped" going in and out from the engine shed. Ray's father was very generous to him and between them an Ensign camera was purchaced but film was in short supply but somehow they got hold of very wide ex-RAF film and Ray made a dark area under the dining room table to cut up and load the film. His cousin in Somerset Arthur Parsons knew about photography helped set him up doing photographic processing. Ray left school at 15 and worked as a porter in the Oxford University Bodlean Library where he was introduced to the card index system. In later life his knowledge of the card index system would serve well his photographic business. Each of the 100,000 images he was selling had a ticket and each of the 3,000 or so sets had a ticket. He made his own tickets out of old envelopes! During the war, whilst at the Bodlean Library, Ray did fire watching duty, he was also an active member of the Air Training Corp. He was called up for Nation Service after the war and spent a very cold 1947 winter in RAF Swinderby, Licolnshire moving ordinance around and eating boiled cabbage and other food he did not like! He was a Fitter and there were some things about the RAF he enjoyed. His serious photography also seems to have started in 1947, film and decent cameras were gradually becoming available and after he was demobilised Ray set up a photographic darkroom in a spare bedroom of his parents house. As well as railway photographs he had a part time attempt at wedding photography and general photographic work. His main employmet after his National Service was working with his father George Simpson in a mens outfitters in George Street Oxford. Ray said of himself he was a good salesman and if the product was right he could sell anything! The shop was just opposite Gloucester Green bus station and he would often slip out to take photographs of buses and coaches that were there. Ray met and Married Margaret in 1950 and around 1954 they moved from Rays parents house 85 Kennington Road to the house next door 83 Kenington Road. It was there that he set up a darkroom and office outside in a shed. He later put up another shed which was just the office, this had a window facing the railway so he could watch the trains as they went by. In about 1965 he bought a collection of 10,000 bus and train negatives for £80 from a man named Gradidge with these combined with his own negatives he decided to go full time sellingl of transport postcards in approval sets of about 30 scenes. There were two collections of post each day and he could often supply the same customer with two different packages in one week. In those days the payments were mainly by postal order and a regular Sunday evening task was adding up the postal orders and a member of the family had to maticulously check it - when decimalisation and calculators came in whoever was adding them up had to add it once with normal addition and once with the calculator and if they didn't match up work out which was wrong! He printed postcards for other print sellers like Lens of Sutton and bought two more big collections of negatives one from Ron Stapleton of Eames Model Shop in Reading this was the "South Riding" collection. the third big collection he bought was knwn as the "Photofives" this was massive with 100,000, 35mm negatives . He bought them from the photographers brother for £5000, they were not all of use and only about half were printed. The photographer of this collection had been based in London. Before the end of steam trains on the railways Ray's family holidays were dominated by where there were steam engines to be photographed by this time is main camera for buses and trains was a rolleiflex. Ray also supplied his friends with film to take pictures of buses for the business. Margaret Simpson helped Ray to print photographes three or four afternoons a week. They would print 1002 postcards a session, that was 6 copies of 167 different images; this was because there was 167 strips of double weight photographic in a box and they always printed a box full. Then the photos were glazed by Ray in the evenings. He had two glazing machines which glazed 4 strips at a time. The strips of six of the same image and then cut them up with a gillotine as they came out of the glazers. Margaret also helped with the booking in and posting off of the approval sets. At this same time he bought a plot of land in Upper Road Kennington and had a house designed and built with an office and darkroom as part of the design. The move was around 1971. They stopped printing photographs in 2003 the printing session which used to take 3 hours was now taking four and a half hours, mainly due to Ray's failing eyesight. Margaret died in 2005 but Ray continued with the business with the help of his son John. When Ray died on 5th January 2018 at the age of 92 and there were still about 65,000 prints left. Margaret often used to encourage him to stop printing and said, he would never sell all those prints even if he lived to be 100! She was right!