David Blake interviewed by Frank Paterson

Frank Paterson

Oral history interview with David Blake, conducted and recorded by Frank Paterson at the National Railway Museum, York on 13 February 2020. Duration: 1 hr. 17 min. 41 sec. Career overview; re-structuring British Rail Engineering Ltd. (BREL); working with John Welsby; Director of Mechanical & Electrical Engineering (DM&EE) British Railways Board (BRB); Bob Reid 2; John Welsby; division of responsibilities; Channel Tunnel route; John Prideaux; attitudes to privatisation; commitments; Managing Director Vendor Unit; created structure and team; remit; government pressure for quick wins; Meldon Quarry; Special Trains Unit; bid process; merchant bank involvement; British Rail Telecommunications (BRT) sale; trade unions stance; increasing delegation to units; Railfreight; Freightliner; rolling stock companies (ROSCOs); British Rail Infrastructure Services (BRIS); Jim Cornell; working with Department of Transport (DoT); ranking of sales priorities; timescale effects; personal approach; value for money; reflections

One of over 150 oral history recordings made as part of the Britain’s Railways All Change (BRAC) archive project. BRAC was set-up to cover gaps in documenting the railway privatisation process in the United Kingdom, between 1994 and 1997, when the government-owned British Rail was dismantled into over 100 privately-owned companies. The interviews capture the recollections of people involved in the planning and implementation of the privatisation process, the management of change and running the railway during privatisation.


Oral Histories
Object Number:
oral history interview
Britain's Railways All Change (BRAC) oral history archive, created in partnership with the Friends of the National Railway Museum, the Retired Railway Officers' Society and the National Railway Museum.