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Dr Beeching's Axe 50 Years On: Memories of Britain's Lost Railways Paperback – 21 Feb 2013

4.5 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: David & Charles; First Edition edition (21 Feb. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1446302679
  • ISBN-13: 978-1446302675
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 1.3 x 26.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 272,054 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

About the Author

Author and photographer Julian Holland spent his formative years, notebook and camera in hand, trainspotting on draughty station platforms and in smoke-filled engine sheds and travelling the highways and byways of the British Railways' network in search of that elusive locomotive number. In his more recent years he has written many best selling books on railways including The Lost Joy of Railways, Amazing & Extraordinary Railway Facts, The Lost Lines of Britain and has co-written The Times Mapping the Railways.


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Format: Paperback
A beautiful and nostalgic book, and a great memorial to all that was lost following the Beeching massacre. It evokes wonderful memories of the best days of British rail, and the author has included every railway line that was closed as a result of the Beeching report, (and the second Beeching report!).
The maps are particularly useful as they were in fact, the maps that were actually used in the 'Beeching Report.' This is something others have not realised, and that I would like to point out!
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I found this new book by Julian Holland an extremely useful companion to the recent "Railway Atlas - Then and Now" by Smith and Turner (Ian Allen). Between the two volumes one gets a very comprehensive picture of the Beeching effect and the rise and fall of our railway network. One tiny niggle: I could not find any explanation for the dotted red tracks in the rather crude maps of the Holland book. Apart from this I strongly recommend it.
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A look at all the lines closed by the good doctor with pictures and a reminder of all the lines lost which could and should have been saved if the politics had been matched to foresight.
The style of the writing reminds me that many people at the time do not realise the damage that had been had been done and that if the investment had been put in today we would have an integrated transport system that was fit for purpose
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March 27th 1963 was a black day for the railways and people of Great Britain. On that fateful day, Dr Richard Beeching, the chairman of the British Railways Board, unleashed his infamous report, "The Reshaping of British Railways" on the nation. The author sums up the consequences of the report and its subsequent implementation as follows: "In total around 4,500 route miles, 2,500 stations and 67,700 jobs were lost." The report and its implementation guaranteed that Britain would never again have a comprehensive and adequate railway network for its people to use and enjoy.
The book is described on the back cover as a "memorial" to all that was lost following the publication and implementation of the Beeching report. This is a fair description. As I ploughed through the lists of closures in every region, it reminded me of the endless lists of soldiers' names we find on war memorials commemorating those who died, especially in the First World War. It should be remembered that some of the lines not listed for closure in the report nevertheless closed in the following years, though a few lines listed for closure in the report were subsequently reprieved.
The content of the book is easy to explain. There is a brief introduction of about six pages explaining the background to the Beeching report, a profile on Beeching, details of the report and a brief summary of its implementation. The remainder of the book is devoted to a brief description of the history (with photographs) of every line listed in the Beeching report (and lines which were not listed in the report but nevertheless were closed) and this is arranged on a geographical basis (Central England, Wales etc). The closures were so extensive that even though the descriptions are short, the book is nearly 200 pages long!
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Format: Paperback
This is a great anniversary edition. I think the use of the original Beeching maps is a great idea. The design of the book is super and, as ever with Julian Holland, the text is informative, engaging and has the personal touch too. Julian is clearly passionate about his subject and he has obviously done a great deal of research. Another great title from the railway book experts David & Charles.
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Format: Paperback
This is yet another well written and illustrated book by Julian Holland, who has an excellent knowledge and has obviously researched this subject in depth.This book plus others adds weight to the fact that on many lines stations were a long distance from the centres of population they were supposed to serve; which didnt help with passenger numbers. Some lines are making a possible comeback such as Bristol to Portishead and The Waverley Line; revised former routes to Oxford, plus those which are Heritage Railways and developing public services in the future (like the Swanage Railway). So not all bad news I am pleased to say. Let it happen ! POST SCRIPT Very recent weather events in February 2014 with the main line via Dawlish highlight the absolute 'folly' in closing the former Southern main line via Okehampton.
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There is value in this record of the lines that were lost in the 1960s and 1970s. But the subtitle talks of 'memories' and that is not the word that comes to mind as you plough through this formulaic account of the different branch lines and minor through routes that were taken out of service. Occasionally the author ventures an adjective such as 'delightful' (of a country railway), but the entries stick to a plan - brief history of the line, how much traffic it had just before closure, and what happened to the line and its set-up later.

The maps are poor. I dug out the very good Railway Atlas: Then and Now (by Smith & Turner), and had it open alongside this book. This helped on many occasions to understand what was being described.

A lot of research is embedded here, and the pictures are of interest, but there are many livelier and more colourful books about the old railways.
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