AN ARTIST born in York is hoping to shine a light on hard-working railway "heroes" with a new portrait exhibition he plans to organise.

Robert Judson, who worked on the railways himself in the 1960s and 70s, took up painting during the Covid-19 lockdowns, following his retirement just before the pandemic hit.

After leaving school in 1966, Robert started work as an apprentice with British Rail in what is now the National Railway Museum in York. During his time on the tracks, Robert had the opportunity of working with steam locomotive maintenance staff on the remaining few engines still running on the railway at the time.

After experiencing working in the industry himself, Robert said that railway workers often get overlooked by the trains themselves, so he wanted to highlight the hard work they put into their services every day.

Robert, who was born in York, said: "Just before the pandemic struck I retired and my wife and I took up painting.

"I soon focused on painting portraits and enjoyed painting portraits of railway workers. When searching, the internet I struggled to find many photographs of them.

"If you type railways workers into a search engine you get thousands of results, which in the main show steam locomotives.

"It is as if the people who kept the trains running have been airbrushed out of railway history."

York Press: Some of the paintings Robert has already done of railway 'heroes'Some of the paintings Robert has already done of railway 'heroes' (Image: Robert Judson)

As Robert is a railway pensioner, he contacted the Pension Fund magazine and the ran an article asking if anyone who had photographs of themselves or relatives working on the railways in the British Rail days wanted a portrait done for free.

To his surprise, he received 42 responses. Some of the pictures were too old to paint, but he has now completed 30 of the portraits in different styles and is close to completing the usable photographs.

Robert is now calling on the people of York to send him photographs to paint - as he is hoping to set up a new exhibition called 'The People Who Kept the Trains Running'.

Robert, who now lives in Cumbria but often travels to York, said: "I don’t make any charge for doing the portraits and I supply free of charge A3 prints of the paintings to the people who send in the photos.

"I have absolutely no interest in selling any of the portraits, I just want to create a record of the heroes who have been ignored and erased from history.

"I need to get them to send me a copy of the photos. I am not just interested in drivers of steam locomotives, in fact I am interested in anyone who worked on the railways."

Each painting in Robert's exhibition will also include a biography of the person.

Pictures should be sent to Robert on email at: