Since The Grove Story was written in 1984, much has overtaken the UK’s railway industry as was foretold in the last paragraph of the original book: “It is a story without an ending, for tomorrow, new history will be made.”
The Grove enjoyed a revival in its fortunes during the second half of the 1980s and into the early 1990s. I joined the tutorial staff in 1984 just in time to help create a new approach to management learning and development. The Grove became “customer focussed”, a new range of courses was developed and launched and, for the first time, a brochure describing the courses on offer was produced.
Following British Rail’s initiative in Organising along Business Lines, the former games hut was completely refitted to create a high-tech learning environment. A new Organising for Quality programme was launched and ran throughout 1989. BR’s top 500 senior managers came through The Grove during that year.
I left The Grove in 1990 to go and work for Transmark, BR’s overseas consultancy subsidiary.
Then along came privatisation. Everything that was not core to the business of running trains was sold off and the rest dismembered. The Grove was no exception to this. Negotiations took place briefly in an attempt to sell the business as a going concern but these were not successful and it was eventually closed for business.
I am pleased to say that The Grove is now open for business again – it lives on as a luxury hotel. Some loving restoration work has been completed and it is now known as The Grove Hotel, London’s Country Estate. Whilst they only give a passing (and distinctly unflattering) mention to the building’s association with its railway past, there is a brief mention if you click on “About Us” at the top of their home page, then on “History”. And you should recognise a couple of photographs from “The Grove Story” there too!
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