Jonathan Makepeace looks at the impact of the ‘Beeching axe’ half a century after its publication

Richmond Station, North Yorkshire

Richmond Station, North Yorkshire: the train shed seen from the abandoned rail track in 1969
Architect: George Townsend Andrews
Photographer: Sam Lambert
© Architectural Press Archive / RIBA Library Photographs Collection
Click on image to enlarge

Fifty years ago 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.

Jonathan Makepeace
Imaging Services Manager, British Architectural Library, RIBA

More images are available to view on RIBApix.

About Wilson Yau
I work for the British Architectural Library at the RIBA as part of a team to share news, images and information online about the activities of the Library and the fascinating items we have in our architectural collections – it contains over four million items, so there's plenty to see! If you’re curious about what we do at the Library and with the collections, or want to discover the latest about our education programmes, public events and exhibitions at the RIBA, please visit

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