The Great Central : Sabotaged & Defeated

The Glorious Years
Published Tue, 2016-08-09 15:11

1966 was once described as “the annus horribilis of the railways” – and with good reason.


© Colin Walker / Martin Walker

Among the many lines that were axed, and celebrated locomotive classes rendered extinct, two of the country’s greatest railways were wiped off the map just six months apart.
In March, the much-loved Somerset & Dorset was finally closed after several years of being deliberately and vindictively run down by the Western Region, descendants of its old ‘enemy’ the GWR – a process succinctly summed up in the title of a 1965 BBC programme by Kenneth Hudson: How to Kill a Railway.
In September, it was the turn of the Great Central Railway’s ‘London Extension’ – the last main line to be opened in Britain, in 1899, and the first to be closed. This time, it was the London Midland Region giving an object lesson in how to slowly starve a once-proud railway until death was a merciful release.
Just as the S&D impudently crossed the GWR’s patch, so the GC penetrated deep into hostile Midland territory – and when it fell into their hands in February 1958, the London Midland Region employed much the same tactics to wreak their revenge.


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