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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In this role Marples inaugurated the Premium Bond scheme and set about modernising the UK’s postal service and telephone network. The process used by BR British Rail or British Railways to close railways, although somewhat complex, was well established and some 3,318 miles of railway were closed between 1948 and 1962.

By now he had defected to the Conservative Party and stood for the Wallasey seat in the July 1945 General Election. The question for Marples was whether the rail network had a realistic future in the face of competition from the road?I discovered him to be rather impressive – a key figure in the repositioning of the Conservatives as a socially responsive party before 1979. For example the Branch line to Hook Norton in Oxfordshire was so little used a person wrote in the Times that they had noticed that the ticket they had purchased at Hook Norton station had a consecutive number to one they had purchased 2 months earlier. Ernest Marples: the shadow behind Beeching”, by David Brandon and Martin Upham will be published by Pen and Sword in 2022. Check out our latest online exhibition on Ernest Marples – the controversial Minister of Transport who oversaw the closure of a huge portion of the UK’s railways in the 1960s.

Cars like the Mini and BMC 1100 seemed to make using the train redundant, offering convenience, privacy and personal space. The railways were also hamstrung at that time by the legal requirement to carry any goods regardless, hence the comment above about racehorses. Although nobody realised it at the time, Britain was undergoing a transport revolution that would transform the nation from public transport users to motorists, all by the time of the October 1973 energy crisis. What did for these plans was Britain’s virtual bankruptcy and its entry into the motorway age was put on hold. The photographs were catalogued and added to the archive as MPLS 3/1/9-3/1/11, 3/2/11, 3/3/2, 3/4/7-3/4/16, 3/5/9-3/5/12, 3/6/1-3/6/11 and 3/7/1-3/7/3.The Inland Revenue was demanding that he pay back nearly 30 years’ back taxes on his residence in Eccleston Street, Belgravia, London, as well as Capital Gains Tax on his properties in Kensington. Scoundrel Ernest Marples – the first CTC member to become minister of transport (he and his wife toured by bicycle) – officially opened the M1, Britain’s first city-to-city motorway, in November 1959. Among the other closures in Section 7 was "* Kidderminster-Tenbury Wells" with a note "* Withdrawal already implemented", suggesting this Section was included in his report for completeness rather than as his personal recommendation.

Information presented on this page was prepared from the XML source files, together with information from the History of Parliament Trust, the work of Leigh Rayment and public sources. What set Ernest Marples apart from his fellow MPs was the fact that he was a self-made man from a humble background – something common in politics today, but rare in 1945. Ernest Marples’ detractors are helped in their case by the virtual collapse of British car production between 1972 and 1980, when it was exposed to Common Market imports. These days ministers are burned at the stake if they build a Duck House on expenses, can you imagine how the sort of strokes Marples pulled would be viewed today? Marples was a minister under Harold Macmillan and Alec Douglas-Home throughout the Conservative Government 1957–1964.Part political biography, part railway history this is the first book to examine the life of the man who appointed Doctor Richard Beeching to make recommendations on the future of British Railways. Quite when Ernest Marples took possession of the car is not known, as he did not officially take ownership of the car until August 1968, when the Mini had evolved into the MkII version and the Cooper 1275S had long supplanted the 1071S.

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