British Rail 1947 - 1997

After the war Britain faced terrible economic problems. Most of its export trade had gone, many merchant ships had been destroyed and the country now owed around £3000 million which had been borrowed to fight World War II.

After Winston Churchill's surprise General Election defeat, only two months after the war was over, the new government with Clement Atlee as Prime Minister, thought the best way for the country to earn money to repay its debts was to take control of key industries.

Nationalisation aimed to manage the planning, production and distribution of goods as well as the investment many industries required.

The buy back of private rail companies and the extra investment needed to create a more efficient network to transport goods and workers was part of a very radical and controversial idea.

Clement Atlee who replaced Winston Churchill as prime Minister in 1945
As a result on January 1 1948 an Act of Parliament came into being which meant the privte ownership of Britain's railways ceased. The railways were now to be run by a Railway Executive under the British Transport Commission which became known as British Railways.