978 0 905878 089
Hardback, 220 pages
This book reviews the engineering works, civil and mechanical, carried out by the Great Western Railway in the decade 1928-1938. In this period, it almost seems that the GWR were rebuilding their whole system, so extensive were the works that were carried out. Bearing in mind that these years covered more or less the 1930s years of industrial depression with high unemployment, it is all the more impressive that the GWR accomplished so much, indeed these foundations mostly remain today.
The government of the day helped by passing the Development (Loan Guarantees and Grants) Act of 1929, under which the government could pay the interest on capital expended on schemes of development. Most railways took advantage of this Act, but none more so than the GWR, who participated in the anticipation that trade would improve and there would be a need for better railway transport facilities. By the end of 1933, they had 35 separate schemes involving a total of about £8,000,000, an enormous amount of money in those days.
The GWR programme covered all sections of railway and dock operations throughout the system, and included major improvements at the main stations, lines being quadrupled, new avoiding lines, extension of Automatic Train Control, colour-light signalling and improved dock facilities in South Wales, as well as a host of smaller improvements, some carried out in cooperation with Local Town Councils and the like.