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Richard Beeching

Dr. Richard Beeching (1913 - 1985) was an English physicist and engineer, and former chairman of British Rail. Richard Beeching became famous in Britain in the early 1960s for his role in masterminding the Beeching axe railway closures of that decade.

Beeching was born in Maidstone Kent in April 1913 as the second of four brothers. He gained 1st class honours in Physics at Imperial College London followed by a research Ph.D.

In 1938 he married Ella Tiley, to whom he remained married for the rest of his life. At the age of 33, Beeching became Deputy Chief Engineer of the Armament Design Department of the Ministry of Supply.

In 1948 Beeching joined the giant chemical firm ICI, and in 1957 he was appointed technical director of the board.

In 1961 he was appointed chairman of the British Railways Board (British Rail). He was appointed to the job because the government of the day wanted outside talent and fresh blood, to sort out the huge problems of the railway system.

During his time at this job, Beeching became a hugely controversial figure when he recommended a massive program of railway closures, to cut the cost of running the railway system. He was also responsible for modernising many aspects of the railway system.

Beeching resigned from the job in 1965 after the recommendations in one of his reports were rejected by the government. He re-joined ICI where he rose to become Deputy Chairman (1966-68). He was also made a Life Peer (a member of the House of Lords).

He died aged 68 in 1985.