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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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. Marples was Minister of Transport from 14 October 1959 until the Conservatives lost the 1964 general election on 16 October 1964. Martin Upham is the author of Britain Explained (2017, revised 2020), editor of A Visitor’s Britain (2000) and numerous reference books including Trades Unions of the World (1993). It may not be entirely a coincidence that as Beeching was closing railway lines, the government was providing funding for the construction of motorways, which were being built by companies in which Marples had an interest. His ribbon-cutting speech was probably considered twee even at the time, and it was certainly ignored.

Marples spent the remainder of his life between his property in Monte Carlo and his vineyard estate in Fleurie, France. Where he came from, how he got to those positions of power, and what he achieved are far more significant.The Conservatives served a full five-year term before succumbing to what many people thought was an inevitable defeat in October 1964 by a reinvigorated Labour Party, which promised a planned economy harnessing the best that new technology could offer. I wish more would actually go and study the Beeching Report, Beeching identified the fact those very many of those lines had revenues of a tiny fraction of operating costs, they could never pay their way! Additions were made to the catalogue by Madelin Evans in Oct 2022, following work to catalogue 8 boxes of photographs by an Archives Centre volunteer.

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. The value the Government placed on the British motor industry was highlighted by the tax breaks given to firms who bought cars for their employees as part of their pay package.

Before becoming Transport Minister he was chairman of Marples Ridgway, a construction company engaged in road building amongst other activities. In 1959 Marples was appointed as the Minister of Transport which became his most controversial position.

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