The Western Before Beeching by Chris Leigh

The Western Before Beeching by Chris Leigh soon to be presented for sale on the marvellous BookLovers of Bath web site!

Published: London: Ian Allan, 1990, Hardback in dust wrapper.

Illustrated by way of: Appendices [4]; Black & White Photographs; Facsimiles; Maps to the endpapers and blanks;

From the cover: Travelling westwards from Paddington today in an air-conditioned IC125 unit it is perhaps difficult to visualise the Western Region as it existed in the early 1960s. Just a quarter of a century ago, the passenger bound for the West Country shared his route with a continual procession of mixed freights and would have passed dozens of goods yards and countless signal boxes. He would have been able to reach innumerable villages and market towns simply by changing trains at country junctions such as Kemble or Chippenham. By the beginning of the 1960s the contraction of steam power had begun in earnest and was understood: the retreat of the railway itself was not.

Despite piecemeal closures throughout the 1950s the Western Region had remained much as it was in 1948; it was only with publication of the Beeching Report in 1963 that the very basis of the railway was to be changed. The railway compelled as common carrier to take everything to everywhere, would vanish almost overnight and the sleepy wayside station would be gone, leaving as little trace as the broad gauge before it.

In The Western Before Beeching, Chris Leigh, Editor of Steam Days, takes a nostalgic look at the Western Region where trim branch line stations and halts with pagoda huts were still commonplace, and the railway was as much a part of rural life as the village pub.

This personal account, where the author takes the reader with him to share his journeys at the end of the era of the traditional railway, is illustrated by a fascinating selection of period photographs, most of which have not been published before, and which include numerous views of the interesting transitional phase where modern motive power in the form of diesel multiple-units and locomotives worked over lines which were soon to close. Much of Beechings legacy, in the form of intensively-worked high-speed main lines, updated signalling and block train freight working is with us to this day. In The Western Before Beeching we see what was lost.

Very Good in Very Good Dust Wrapper.

Green boards with Gilt titling to the Spine. 112 pages. 11¾” x 8¾”.

Of course, if you don’t like this one, may I persuade you to have a look at more books within my Transport Rail catalogue?

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