Presence of mind

WITH postwar shortages now over, the world was changing and Britain with it; increasing competition from roads, the growth of consumerism and the general standard of living was increasing. The railway’s response was its modernisation programme.

By the mid-1960s the modernisation of motive power was almost complete across British Rail and the sight of a steam locomotive was fast becoming an exception rather than the norm it had been up until only a few years before. As more diesel and electric locomotives came off the production line and came on shed, more crews undertook training for the new motive power, with the consequence that increasing numbers of steam engines were made redundant.

The scale of the transition through the 1960s modernisation era is easy to underestimate these days. Railway operational staff were faced with several elements of significant change simultaneously. New motive power, route modernisation (that for some lines included multiple aspect signalling and electrification), redundancies and rationalisation of depots and sheds; regional boundary changes also added to the mix in some places.

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Eastern Region general manager Gerald Fiennes (third from left), discusses the scene of devastation with some of his managers.

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