Just about everyone with an interest in railways - and especially those in south-west England - will be familiar with Peter Gray as a superb photographer of the railway scene. Living well into his eighties, Peter began taking train pictures in the era of monochrome but took up the challenge of 35mm colour slide photography as soon as that medium became available. No matter what the medium, Peter's skills lay in his eye for composition and detail and an encyclopaedic knowledge of where and when the best pictures could be obtained. Taking the pictures was only part of it: Peter had his photos published in numerous books, magazines and articles and his art found an audience way beyond railway enthusiast devotees through journals such as the Western Morning News in which his excellent pictures were regularly published.
We in Cornwall, and especially in the Cornwall Railway Society, have had an even greater pleasure on numerous occasions when not only could we see and admire Peter Gray's photographs but we could listen to Peter explaining how they came about and pointing out so many details. His astonishingly wide range of photos covered numerous visits to railway installations abroad as well as thousands of locations of railway interest around Britain. Over the years since I have been organising the CRS meetings programme one of the greatest joys has been to receive Peter's acceptance of my invitations to come and give another talk. My wife and I have been privileged on several such occasions to have Peter staying with us for the weekend of his talk and, putting aside the ever-fascinating conversations about his railway (and other) adventures, we both recognised the quiet humanity of this gentle man. Peter's visits were something to look forward to.
After his parents' death, Peter continued to live in what, for many years, had been the family home in Torquay. Not only was that home filled with box upon box and drawer upon drawer of prints and slides, but also with books, papers and railway-related ephemera but Peter's methodical recording of all his visits and everything he had seen allowed him to put his hand on just the right picture to illustrate a book and just the right sequence of slides to enthral an audience. The enduring legacy of Peter Gray's work will be found in all the publications in which it appears and his valuable collection of photographs will remain for future generations to enjoy but, sadly, Peter's smiling, quiet but authoritative presence will no longer be there and he will be sadly missed by us all.
A tribute from Derek Buttivant Chairman Cornwall Railway Society
and units at Par Station
I caught up with the train later in Newquay just gone 2am, photo attached. Noteworthy in that by the time it reached Newquay it was the 4th October, 30 years earlier 4th Oct 1987 was the last BR loco hauled service to the terminus.
Many thanks for your picture at an unearthly hour at Newquay and also for the correction plus that very noteworthy fact.