The Beeching Axe

The impact of the ‘Beeching axe’ report on Britain's railways, which recommended mass station closures, is still with us over half a century after its publication.


Trainshed and disused platforms, Richmond Station, North Yorkshire, in 1969. © Architectural Press Archive / RIBA Library Photographs Collection

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On 27 March 1963 Dr Richard Beeching, Chairman of British Railways, published his infamous report Reshaping of British Railways. Better known as the ‘Beeching axe’ it was intended to stem the BR’s massive losses in the face of increasing road transport by closing over 2,000 stations and 5,000 miles of duplicate routes or unprofitable branch lines.

One such line was the short branch from Eryholme to Richmond in North Yorkshire opened in 1846 and closed in 1969 despite vigorous local objection. Designed in the Tudor style by George Townsend Andrews, Richmond station was one of many he designed for the expanding railway empire of ‘The Railway King’ George Hudson some of which survive in use today in fine condition including Filey, Hull Paragon and Scarborough. However closure was not the end of the line for Richmond as its listed status ensured survival, initially as a garden centre and currently as The Station, a thriving heritage and cultural venue.

Article by Jonathan Makepeace, Imaging Services Manager, British Architectural Library, RIBA

Image: Trainshed and disused platforms, Richmond Station, North Yorkshire, in 1969.
© Architectural Press Archive / RIBA Library Photographs Collection

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