The Ministry of War Transport (MoWT) was a department of the British Government formed early in the Second World War to control transportation policy and resources. It was formed by merging the Ministry of Shipping and the Ministry of Transport, bringing responsibility for both shipping and land transport to a single department, and easing problems of co-ordination of transport in wartime. The MoWT was founded on 1 May 1941, when Lord Leathers was appointed Minister of War Transport. Following the general election of July 1945, Alfred Barnes was appointed Minister of War Transport, remaining in the post after the department was renamed the Ministry of Transport in April 1946. Divisions The jurisdiction of the MoWT covered all forms of transportation and it inherited numerous and varied responsibilities from its parent organisations. From the Ministry of Shipping these included:
Allocation of Tonnage Division, responsible for the provision of
shipping, other than liners, but including tankers and other coastal
craft. This division was headed by Max Nicholson from 1942 to 1945.
Ship Management Division, responsible for the City Central Chartering
Office, which chartered vessels on behalf of the government on the
In 1942 new divisions were created responsible for ship repairs and concerned with statistics and intelligence. After the end of the war in May 1945, those divisions not dissolved or absorbed by other divisions, gradually assumed duties in connection with peacetime shipping policy. From the Ministry of Transport it inherited responsibility for all of Britain's roads, railways, canals and ports, and included:
Railways Division, responsible for processing and publicising
instructions and disseminating information, to ensure effective
co-operation between the various railway companies, whose senior
officials were formed into the Railway Executive Committee.
Railway Inspectorate, responsible for safety provisions, track
inspection, accident investigation, and operating system inspection of
Road Transport Division, responsible for the licensing of public
service vehicles and their drivers, and goods vehicles; the regulation
of the construction, lighting and use of motor vehicles; speed limits;
vehicle registration and taxation; and compulsory insurance.
Highways Division, responsible for the safety of road transport,
private vehicle registration and licensing, traffic safety and traffic
Highway Engineering Division, responsible for road building and
Road Haulage Organisation, responsible for the voluntary agreements
made with haulage operators to economize in the use of fuel and
rubber, to maintain a fleet of long distance vehicles, and to ensure
the most effective use of road transport resources.
Marine Departments, responsible for docks, ports and harbours.
Her Majesty's Coastguard
Churchill war ministry Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport Empire ship
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