In all the history of transport in London, there are periods that could be considered with the benefit of hindsight to be pivotal. Years such as 1933, with the creation of the London Passenger Transport Board; 1952, with the running of the final trams and 1962, with the last trolleybus conversion, were undoubtedly significant years, but it is hard to escape the conclusion that the 1940s represented a significant decade of change and challenge for London Transport. At the start of the decade, the process of tram to trolleybus conversion was still underway, with major tram abandonments in East London in process at the time when LT was faced by perhaps its greatest challenge - the need to keep public transport operational at a time when the destruction wrought by the Luftwaffe was seriously undermining the physical structure of the Metropolis. With peace restored in 1945, LT was faced by the necessity of major restoration work and then by Nationalisation, as the London Transport Executive in 1948. Towards the end of the decade the decision was made to phase out the final trams, heralding yet more changes to the structure of LT.
In his latest book for Ian Allan Publishing, LT expert Michael Baker examines the decade. Exploring the subject through contemporary accounts and photographs, he recalls the great challenges faced by London Transport throughout the period. Individual themes covered in the book include the reaction of LT to the war and how it coped with the destruction of infrastructure and vehicles, the use of vehicles from outside London to supplement the fleet, the morale of the staff and much, much else.
Michael Baker lives in Wareham in Dorset. Now retired after a career in teaching, he has been recording photographically as well as writing books and magazine articles on various aspects of transport history for many years. He is the author of numerous books for Ian Allan Publishing, his most recent being Glory Days: London Transport in the 1950s.