Master Neverers Association

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Never Again, Volumes 1-7

The Master Neverers Association ("MNA") were a group of photographers who set out to record the last days of steam on British Railways, the group's name reflecting their determination Never to give up their quest for the ultimate Master Shot.

A number of members of the MNA have associations with the SVRSevern Valley Railway; their names are shown in bold below. Many other members went on to have similar associations with other heritage railway organisations, in particular the North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group (Maurice Burns, Ken Groundwater, John Hunt and Peter Proud).


"Never Again - the Complete Works", a four volume set of books about their exploits and showing some of their finest Master Shots, was published in 2018.[1] The original print run of 1,000 copies was sold out, with a second print run being announced the following year.

In May 2021 the MNA announced plans for the publication of a further six volumes.[2] The next three volumes titled "Never Again - Encore" were published in September 2021, and the final three volumes titled "Never Again - Finale" were published in June 2022.

A number of individual members of the MNA have also produced books of photographs in their own name.


The 'members' of the MNA whose work was published in "Never Again" were:

  • John Barnes
  • Mick Becke; Mick was Birmingham born and bred and was the originator of the MNA terms "Masterful" and "Never". Mick sadly passed away in 2006.[3]
  • Tony Bending; Tony joined the SVRSSevern Valley Railway Society in 1966. His volunteering lifetime was spent with the Locomotive Department at Bridgnorth; he retired as a driver in 2020. He was a director of the Guarantee Company since 1973, and also a director of SVR(H). Tony sadly passed away in February 2023.[4]
  • Jim Bodfish; Jim joined the SVRS in 1966. He progressed from loco cleaner to fireman and driver, and later signalman at Hampton Loade, Highley and Bridgnorth. A supporter of many locomotive funds including 43106 and 1501, and a staunch member of the Bridgnorth P Way gang until his death in 2012.[5] His photographic collection is held by Kidderminster Railway Museum.[1]
  • Tony "Gus" Bowles; SVRSevern Valley Railway MPDMotive Power Depot volunteer in the mid-1970s. Also associated with the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway for many years.[6]
  • Maurice Burns
  • Alan Castle "Cattle"; Alan was one of the members from the North West. He was involved in the restoration of 47383 and later with painting of other locomotives including 45110.[1] His photograph collection is held by the Manchester Locomotive Society.
  • Bob Clarke
  • Paul Claxton; Paul sadly passed away in 2009.[7]
  • Mike Collins
  • Derek Cope
  • Bernard Crick; Joint organiser of the Manchester Rail Travel Society involved with the purchase and restoration of 47383. SVRSevern Valley Railway volunteer fireman in the early days.
  • Gerald Dixon
  • John Everitt; John sadly passed away in 2007.[8]
  • Dave Gouldthorp
  • Ken Groundwater
  • Ken Hale
  • John Hunt
  • Derek Huntriss
  • Ian Krause
  • Dave Lacey; Joined the SVRSSevern Valley Railway Society in 1966. Joined the Locomotive Department at Bridgnorth upon its formation. Steam loco cleaner, fireman and then driver for many years and later a regular member of the Severn Valley Venturer dining train staff. [9] Dave died in 2019.[10]
  • Terry Mann; Volunteer at Bewdley and Kidderminster booking offices for over 30 years.[1]
  • Pete Proud
  • Paul Riley; One of Britain's leading railway photographers, whose pictures regularly appeared in SVRSevern Valley Railway publicity. Paul was killed in a fall from Victoria Bridge in 1976.[11] His black and white photographic collection is held by Kidderminster Railway Museum.
  • Ian Robb "Bert"; SVRSevern Valley Railway MPDMotive Power Depot volunteer in the 1970s, particularly working on 47383.[1]
  • Tim Stephens
  • Allan Stewart
  • John Toy
  • Chris Weston
  • David Wilkinson
  • David Williams; See Main article
  • Mick York; See Main article


The MNA originated in the Birmingham and Black Country area where David Williams and Mick York had attended the same school. The original core group also included Mick Becke, Ken Hale, Terry Mann, Dave Gouldthorp, Dave Lacey and John Toy.[12]

By the time the MNA had become a functioning group in the early 1960s, many of the services in the West Midland area had already moved over to diesel and electrification and rebuilding was taking place at Birmingham New Street.[13] With the decline of steam in the area, the MNA members began to travel further afield, meeting and being joined by other members around the country.


Members of the Association travelled widely around the country, often sleeping in P-way huts, barns, hay lofts, signal boxes, waiting rooms and empty coaching stock. They would visit engine sheds, sometimes clandestinely in the early hours of the morning, to clean engines which they knew were working the following day and wanted to photograph.

Paul Riley became the unspoken leader of the group, as described in Never Again, not by design but more likely as a result of his can do, must do, never fail and sometimes extreme approach to getting the Master Shot. From time to time members of the group photographed each other 'in action' and Never Again included pictures of Paul up trees, scaling an HV pylon, and waist deep in a river.

Other activities included repainting tunnel mouth insignia and name boards, and making wooden replica nameplates and number plates for locomotives. Footplate crews would sometimes be 'persuaded' to put on a good show, and members would 'blag' a footplate ride from time to time, including a 98mph run on City of Coventry up the Trent Valley in the weeks before the loco was withdrawn.

After photographing the "Fifteen Guinea Special" on 11 August 1968, the last BRBritish Rail or British Railways steam working, the MNA retired to the Station Inn at Ribblehead to 'seek solace'. Since then the surviving members have held an annual reunion there which they attend whenever possible[1]. The 53rd annual reunion took place on 8 August 2021[14].

Further Reading

  • Never Again - the Complete Collection, Never Again Publishing, 2018 (reprinted 2019), ISBN 978-1-5272-2765-1
  • Never Again - Encore, Never Again Publishing, 2021, ISBN 978-1-9160-7331-9
  • Never Again - Finale, Never Again Publishing, 2021, ISBN 978-1-9160-7332-6


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Never Again, Never Again Publishing, ISBN 978-1-5272-2765-1
  2. (retrieved 20 May 2021)
  3. Never Again, Volume 4, P.74.
  4. Express Points, March 2023
  5. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 179
  6. Never Again, Volume 4, P.72.
  7. Never Again, Volume 4, P.113.
  8. Never Again, Volume 4, P.136.
  9. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 199, 50 years presentation
  10. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 208
  11. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 41, Obituary
  12. Never Again, Volume 1, P.6.
  13. Never Again, Volume 1, P.8.
  14. Trackside Magazine, Issue 3, pp10-11


The Railway Magazine, Never Again Publishing (retrieved 24 December 2020)