THE EAST SUFFOLK RAILWAY, by Rosemary Burton, Geofrey Body, Avon Anglia Publications, and British Rail Eastern Region, 1988 [ebook]


Card covered booklet 8.5”x 5.75”, pp32, 6  maps and 15 B&W Photographs


As heirs to the enterprising publicity and public relations publications of the London & North Eastern Railway under successively Teasedale, Dandridge and Dow, their followers in the nationalised North Eastern and Eastern Regions were frustrated by restricted budgets and changes of policy which saw the end of attractive booklets promoting the countryside, and colourful holiday resort posters. Until about 1960 (NE Region commissioned their last “pictorial” poster around that time) a poster advertising say Scarborough, might attract a considerable number to go there by train, As the decade progressed they were more likely to go by car or to take a cheap air package holiday in the sun. The increasing number of country branch lines closed during the same period , effectively severely reduced the “Go for a ramble by Train” market. There was also the problem of accounting for and selling priced items, complicated by staff demands in some travel centres for a commission to be paid on each sale. Policy dictated that fares and services be publicised, not destinations.


Eastern Region made something of a breakthrough in 1975, with three hugely successful booklets, which more than paid for themselves, celebrating the Rail 150 Cavalcade. Using the four Civil Engineering Dept staff photographers, the whole operation was planned with military precision, so that the first booklets were edited, printed and on sale within days of the event, pre-empting any “commercial” publisher aiming for the “budget” end of the market. Sales and distribution were controlled by York H,Q. and enabled a couple of redundant staff to be kept on until reaching minimum retirement age. The department was not allowed to retain much money after all expenses had been cleared, but it did provide some cash, which with the right synergic input from other organisations, produced useful results. Cooperation with a brewery, with an arts and technical college and with local authority representatives and tourist atractions meeting as publicity working parties for individual lines, produced some excellent booklets at very ecomomical cost.

“The East Suffolk Railway by Train”, was a case in point. It was a joint production with a small publishing company run by a retired railway officer. . The publisher would  arrange sales direct by post, and through the book trade, in return for a percentage of the nett. .

The author, a was a knowledgeable writer  on transport matters, and worked with British Rail, Eastern on other joint projects.   Thus with good will and cooperation all round an attractive and informative booklet resulted, without damaging anyone’s budget too much.

It was the last Public Relations effort by the York Office in East Anglia, for while the booklet was in course of preparation, the formation of a new “Anglia” region was announced. It did not seem all that long since the former Eastern and North Eastern Regions were merged with HQ at York, but tyhere it was. Having “Lost” Eastern England below The Wash, the York Office was asked to take the Settle- Carlisle line, which Michael Portillo had just decided not to close, under its wing instead.  But that is another story!




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