Latest London news, sport & entertainment

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 13°C

min temp: 5°C

Five-day forecast

The story of our much-loved railway branch lines is being told through a collection of 400 photographs and stories in a new book just published, spotlighting the Beeching era.

To send a link to this page to a friend, you must be logged in.

Rail buffs are queuing like passengers at the ticket office for copies of John Vaughan’s ‘Rise and Fall of British Railways.’

His collection begins with the early days of 19th century railway mania and recounts the financial struggles of the railway companies and closures in the 1920s and 30s which saw 1,000 miles of track made redundant, such as the Nunhead-Crystal Palace branch in south London and the Wealdstone-Stanmore Broadway spur in north London. It continues through to the 1948 railways nationalisation.

One of London’s more recent branch closures was the Finsbury Park-Highgate-Alexandra Palace branch in the late 1940s, just after nationalisation, now converted to a green walkway.

But the main focus is on the problems British Railways had in its 50-year struggle to show a profit while being plagued by regular political interference.

The Government famously called on industrialist Dr Beeching to chair British Railways Board in 1963 who proposed widespread closures of loss-making lines and stations.

Vaughan examines the findings of the Beeching Report—popularly known as ‘the Beeching axe’—which threatened little-used branches that provided a lifeline for many communities. Increasing car ownership had seen their usage gradually wane.

Public affection for branch lines led to stiff opposition to Beeching’s axe—but not enough to save thousands of lines and stations.

More recent events are also included, leading up to British Rail’s 1998 privatisation and beyond.

The wealth of evocative images taken by photographers past and present will invoke much nostalgia among railway enthusiasts.

Vaughan has been a railway buff himself since he was 10—like all schoolboys, probably. He took his first picture of a steam engine in 1953 on a simple plastic camera.

The former editor of ‘Modern Railways Pictorial’ magazine has written 40 books following his first in 1968.

John Vaughan’s ‘Rise and Fall of British Railways: Branch and Minor Lines’, by Haynes Publishing, £30 hardback.

Share this article

submit to reddit submit to Fark

Latest book news, reviews and author interviews

0 comments

LDN24 Promotions

Always wanted to create your own beer? Perfect Pint are giving you the chance.

WIN beer with Beer BingoTM

When no simple way to find Real Ale was at hand, 4 Ale enthusiasts got together to allow anyone with a smart phone to find Real Ale no matter where they happened to be, this was the birth of the Perfect Pint app.

Read full story »

The Week subscription offer

The Week magazine special offer

London24 have partnered up with The Week magazine to offer you a complimentary issue – delivered free to your door.

Read full story »

Bird Box, the debut novel penned by Josh Malerman, frontman of Detroit based rock band The High Strung

DON’T OPEN YOUR EYES

London24 has teamed up with HarperCollins to offer a free Amazon Kindle taster of Bird Box, the debut novel penned by Josh Malerman, frontman of Detroit based rock band The High Strung.

Read full story »

Things to do