Beeching: 50 years on - art gallery exhibition

    22 March - 16 June 2013 in our Art Gallery

    This exhibition will premier a specially commissioned artwork by artist filmmaker Esther Johnson, and introduce the massive impact that the 1963 report Reshaping Britain's Railways had on our railway network both locally and nationally.

    Background | Gallery | About the artist | Previous exhibitions | Upcoming exhibition

    Background

    50 years ago, Dr Richard Beeching wrote his revolutionary report The Reshaping of British Railways. It set in motion a radical restructuring of Britain's railways that changed the face of rail transport. On the advice of his report, many smaller railway lines were closed and "Dr Beeching" became the despised face of the cuts.

    The closures had a huge impact nationally but their effect was often felt locally and personally. At the time, protest groups demonstrated against the cuts in their area, and even today many people feel the loss of their local line and numerous campaigns call for lines to be reopened.

    To mark the 50th anniversary of these momentous changes, we've commissioned a work by artist filmmaker Esther Johnson which provides a close-up of one of these local stories: the Waverley line, which ran between Carlisle and Edinburgh.

    A selection of the pictures on display in the exhibition.

    A still from the specially commissioned artwork by artist filmmaker Esther Johnson

    Withdrawal of railway passenger services

    Withdrawal of railway passenger services

    Withdrawal of railway passenger services

    Withdrawal of railway passenger services

    Proposed withdrawal of passenger train services map

    Proposed withdrawal of passenger train services map

    Proposed withdrawal of passenger train services - London area

    Distribution of passenger traffic station receipts

    Flows of freight traffic

    Use or lose: your branch railway is threatened with closure

    Withdrawal of railway passenger services

    Disposal
    Painting, oil on canvas, by Barrie A F Clark, March 1967. Depicts a left side view of Merchant Navy class 4-6-2 locomotive No 35003 'Royal Mail' at Salisbury Motive Power Depot on its withdrawal prior to scrapping in 1967.

    The Home & Haunts of Sir Walter Scott’, NBR poster, 1907
    North British Railway poster of Scottish author Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)

    'The 'I'll See You Again' Train', BR poster, 1968
    Poster produced for British Rail (BR) Inter-City, showing a young couple meeting on a station platform.

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    About the artist

    Esther Johnson (MA Royal Collage of Art, BA University of London) takes a poetic approach to documentary and narrative through moving image, audio and photography. Johnson’s poignant portraits examine extraordinary, resonant stories that may otherwise remain hidden or ignored. Her work reflects on the effect of ‘progress’ and societal change on communities and individuals in the margins of society, and of how the universal can impact on the particular.

    Johnson was awarded the 2012–15 Philip Leverhulme Prize in Performing & Visual Arts for young scholars. She is a Reader in Art & Design within Sheffield Institute of Arts at Sheffield Hallam University.

    Previous exhibitions

    Upcoming exhibitions

    It's Quicker by Rail
    4 June-6 October 2013

    An exhibition of posters from ourcollection which looks at how railway companies have used speed to help sell railways as the quickest and easiest way to travel. This exhibition is part of our Mallard 75 season, celebrating the 75th anniversary of the setting of the steam locomotive world speed record.

    Background: British Railways proposed withdrawal of passenger train services