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Mirror photographer who captured iconic image in aftermath of 1952 train disaster dies aged 84

Former Daily Mirror photographer George Phillips, who captured the aftermath of one of the UK’s worst train disasters, has died aged 84.

Phillips’ most iconic image was that of Reverend John Richards stood among the wreckage of the triple train crash at London’s Harrow and Wealdstone Station in 1952 that claimed 122 lives.

He won the Britannica news picture of the year award for the photograph, which he took while still a teenager.

Speaking about the picture, fellow photographer Michael Brennan said: “The camera he used was a bastard of a contraption and on top of his difficulties that day the glass plate he used was his last one – and he didn’t know if it was one he had already exposed.”

During his career, Phillips also covered the Thorpe affair, the Hungerford Massacre and the trial of serial killers Fred and Rose West.

He was also involved in the Mirror’s campaign to ban the herbicide and defoliant Agent Orange – a chemical used by the US army during Vietnam War that was linked to major health problems.

Phillips, who ran a chicken farm and pub before turning to journalism, worked on the Sun before heading to the Sunday People. He also worked as the Daily Mirror’s West of England staff photographer.

Mirror group staff photographer George Philips (Picture: Mirrorpix)

Mirror reporter Syd Young, who worked with George, said: “George was a wonderful, talented colleague who made me look better than I really was.

“And he didn’t scare easily. When [Mirror owner Robert] Maxwell visited the Mirror office and ordered the darkroom to be closed immediately to save money, George took his time over it.

“Well, he had to because he had not finished building his own sailing dinghy in the only room in the office that Maxwell didn’t visit.”

Phillips’ father Cecil was also a professional photographer that covered the invasion of Europe during the Second World War for Life magazine.

Phillips died on 12 November. He is survived by his wife Pat, sons Martin and Tom and daughters Sara-Jayne and Hannah.

Picture: Mirrorpix

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