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Railways of Marple and District From 1794

by WARWICK R. BURTON, M.A.Cantab.

Reproduced with permission from the second edition 1981, published by: M.T. & W.R. BURTON, Marple.

This version of the book was first published on the Marple Website in 2002, with the kind permission of author Warwick Burton and his father Monty, who wrote an addendum for the web site.

Monty Burton waves the flag at the official reopening of Marple Station on 28 October 1970.Monty Burton waves the flag at the official reopening of Marple Station on 28 October 1970.

Sadly, both Monty and Warwick have passed away since then. Warwick died in 2015, not long after completing a new version of this book entitled "Railways of Marple and District from the earliest days to 2015". It was republished to coincide with the Marple 150 Festival in 2015, which celebrated 150 years since the railways came to Marple. Warwick came to Marple for the launch of the exhibition in the Library and gave an excellent talk in July 2015, just four months before his unexpected death. This photo by Arthur Procter was taken during that visit:

Warwick Burton at the launch of his new version of this book on 2 July 2015.
Warwick Burton at the launch of his new version of this book on 2 July 2015.

The updated version of Warwick's book "Railways of Marple and District from the earliest days to 2015" is currently available from Marple Bookshop, price £15.99

The Beeching Era

X. The Beeching Era 1962-1970

The main entrance to Marple Station in 1970, demolition almost complete. Despite the effects of the Modernisation Plan, and the piecemeal closures of grossly uneconomic lines in the 50's, B.R.'s losses continued to mount, so that by 1962 the annual deficit had reached £104m - a fantastic sum then. The Government therefore appointed as Chairman of the newly formed British Railways Board (which replaced the old British Transport Commission and Railway Executive), a certain Dr. Beeching, to review the state of B.R. In 1963 appeared the results of his review in a Government document entitled "The Reshaping of British Railways", usually known as the "Beeching Report".

Read more: The Beeching Era

Marple Re-built

XI. Marple Re-built. 1970

Marple Station in 1969, just prior to dismantling.With the rising costs of labour and materials of the 1960's, B.R. found itself no longer able to keep up with repair work on station buildings, and particularly canopies. This was nowhere more in evidence than at Marple; by the late 60's most of the fine canopies on both platforms had been allowed to get into such a state of disrepair that it was necessary to remove the glazing for safety, leaving the cast iron and timber skeleton giving little shelter. It is easy to criticise B.R. for this, but the station had been built for a Main line use that had long since disappeared; and with short diesel trains most of the platform was not even used. Nor could B.R. really afford, with the annual deficit into 8 figures, to spend money on renewing the 3 miles of timbering and 1600 panes of glass necessary to put Marple's roof back in order; in addition the footbridge from Brabyns Brow to Up platform was an expensive white elephant now the loop line had gone.

Read more: Marple Re-built

The Turn of the Tide

XII. The Turn of the Tide. 1970-1980

Marple Station and car park on 12 September 1978. Despite hopeful signs like the re-building of Marple Station doubts about the future of the Railways continued. For one thing local Railways like the Marple line continued losing money; by 1970 the annual grant-aid for the Manchester-Marple, New Mills and Rose Hill services was in the region of £½m. Secondly, 1970 which had ended with the opening of the new Marple Station had begun with the Draconian measures of the closure of the Hayfield, Macclesfield and Woodhead lines. Railway closures continued into the mid-70's and after the trauma of the Beeching era, few believed any Railways were safe from closure, or even had any future.

Read more: The Turn of the Tide

Postscript 2002

XIII. Postscript 2002

Compare with the photograph below taken in 1914. Almost identical. Note that although the chimney has disappeared, very little else has changed in 50 years.Some twenty years after the publication of the book, it is interesting to reflect upon what has happened since.

It seems that our railways are rather in a mess, and my former railway colleagues of the "Knights of the Iron Road" are saddened at their present state. Recalling the times when there was pride, passengers supreme, trains running on time etc. it is probably now accepted that the closure of our local rail links with Hayfield, Macclesfield and Stockport (Tiviot Dale) was a mistake.

Read more: Postscript 2002

Marple Places

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