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Author Topic: On this day - 1st January (1923, 1939 and 1948)  (Read 315 times)
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« on: January 01, 2022, 09:25:53 am »

1923 Grouping of railways into four major companies - GWR (Great Western Railway), SR(resolve), LNER» (London North Eastern Railway - about) and LMS (London Midland Scottish - 1923 to 1948) -

1939 Reading (Southern) electrified -

1948 Foundation of British Railways - nationalisation -

1st January is a natural "out with the old and in with the new" day, and the railway grouping in 1923 (when so many smaller railway companies were struggling) and nationalisation in 1948 (when the whole system was run down after the second world war) are prime examples - others might like to add key "1st January" starters.

It's interesting to note that it took a further 80 years for electric trains to go beyond Reading ...

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« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2022, 05:02:42 pm »

January 1st 1939 was a Sunday, so the new electric service didn't start with a huge bang on the day. The ceremonial opening (complete with mayors and other worthies) was at Reading on 30th December - awkward for the Reading Standard as it came out on Saturday. There was less in the papers beforehand about electrification that I expected, but the opening did get a longer piece in the Standard the following week. The first clip was before Christmas, about the new services.

The article on 30th December is barely legible, but it reports reaching Reading as completing the SR(resolve)'s ten-year electrification plan. This is hailed as a success, based on the increase in passenger numbers. Now, would the number of houses built around London in the 1930s have had anything to do with that?

The numbers given include the number of passengers into SR's London stations as rising by 41% or 733,808 in ten years (i.e. to 1,789,776, presumably per weekday), and their total passenger count for 1936 as 378,000,000 over 2,200 route miles (with 688 electric by 1939). On the other side of the coin, an answer in parliament to a question by the MP (Member of Parliament) for Newbury (General Howard Clifton Brown) was reported as "of the five trespassers who met their death from the live rail on the Southern Railway" in 1938, "all five were children". SR were busy putting up a of new fences.

A couple of clips from the opening event, in the Reading Standard 6 January 1939 under successive headlines "The Southern Goes electric", "more trade will flow into Reading", "twenty minute rush service", and "£1,000,000 switch-over": Eric Gore-Brown was the deputy chairman of SR, and Mr. (later Sir, and first chairman of the Railway Executive) Eustace Missenden was the traffic manager.
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