The Beeching Legacy – The West Country


Out of stock



The year 1963 will always be remembered as the one when the Sixties really started to swing. The Beatles and Rolling Stones were topping the charts while the mini-skirt and the Mini car had become the latest fashion accessories. For those with an interest in railways however, 1963 was memorable for the publication by Her Majesty’s Stationery Office of Part 1 of the report ‘The Reshaping of British Railways’ by Dr Richard Beeching, then chairman of the British Railways Board. The term ‘reshaping’ was somewhat of a euphemism as the Report envisaged a radical reduction in the national rail network. Hundreds ofstations were to be closed to both freight and passenger traffic, along with thousands of miles of track, while several thousand staff would be made redundant. This book is intended as a record of how the proposals affecting passenger services in the West Country were ruthlessly implemented over a ten year period. Since then, despite the introduction of modern high-speed rolling stock and much track rationalisation, the extent of our rail network has remained basically the same. Train services in the West Country today are therefore still very much Dr Beeching’s Legacy. In addition he bequeathed to the nation a linear network of derelict land which could be put to other purposes, including that of heritage railway. The passenger rail network in the West Country before and after Beeching is shown on Maps 1 and 2 respectively. The area covered by this book includes the counties of Devon and Cornwall along with parts of west Somerset and Dorset.