Ernest Marples: The Shadow Behind Beeching

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Ernest Marples: The Shadow Behind Beeching

Ernest Marples: The Shadow Behind Beeching

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At the same time the Labour Party at last got its act together and elected Harold Wilson as its new leader. It is possible that Marples delayed announcing the closure of the Branch until after Beeching’s report was published, as it would help confirm his decision. Except Labour only won a majority of four seats, but it was enough, and Ernest Marples at last left the Ministry of Transport to be replaced by Tom Fraser. Marples was a wine connoisseur and even produced his own wine from his 45-acre vineyard estate in Fleurie, France.

Following the implementation of the 1962 Act in September 1962, the closure of the Branch continued under the new simplified process. Following the Conservatives’ defeat at the polls, the Labour-supporting Daily Mirror newspaper published details of Marples’ tax avoidance plans.The rail closure programme continued, with some of the most infamous closure decisions being authorised by Labour ministers. The reality that the west had to pay what the OPEC nations demanded was compounded by the fact that, for all its technological brilliance, the western world has still not come up with a truly viable, flexible alternative to the internal combustion engine. I found the book balanced and non-judgemental and it pays due tribute to Marples’ many achievements.

It shows that Beeching’s recommendations were a logical response to the financial situation and based upon evidence, although the methodology for gathering that evidence may have been questionable. Beeching's report listed the 5000 miles of lines and related stations to be closed in Appendix 2 of the report. However in the late 80s with the rail union’s neutered, British Rail operated with the lowest subsidy per passenger mile of any national railway system in the 1st world. His departure came in the wake of the failure of a plan to avoid paying tax on his properties by involving a Liechtenstein-based company with which he had been involved for more than ten years.

He claimed to invent the idea of flashing bulbs in orange plastic tubes and there were many hours late at night spent discussing patents. Martin Upham is the author of Britain Explained (2017, revised 2020), editor of A Visitor’s Britain (2000) and numerous reference books including Trades Unions of the World (1993). On 14 October 1959, Ernest Marples was appointed as Minister of Transport, the role for which he was to become notorious. The Beeching cuts, or "Beeching Axe" that followed resulted in the major closures for both stations and lines.

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