GWR Route: Banbury to Wolverhampton
Leamington Station: gwrls3981
The construction of the Loop line through Leamington was
estimated by IK Brunel to cost £120,000 (see gwrls3962). In order to obtain parlimentary approval,
the Great Western Railway had to prove that they could raise sufficient
capital. This document identifies three subscribers who were prepared to invest
in the scheme; Samual Morton Peto MP (£60,000), William Eastted
(£20,000) and George Hennet (£10,000). All were contractors who
would be involved in the construction of the new line.
The main subscriber, Samual Morton Peto MP, was a victorian
entrepreneur involved in many railway schemes across the country. With his
brother-in-law, Edward Betts, he operated both as a contractor and financier.
In Warwickshire, Peto & Betts were involved in the construction of the
Birmingham and Oxford Junction Railway and the Oxford, Worcester &
Wolverhampton Railway (OWWR). In the 1840s, railway companys
dividends and share prices had out-performed the rest of the stock market,
resulting in a hugh railway construction boom. This was unsustainable and the
inevitable market corrections adversely affected speculators and schemes. One
casulty was the construction of the under-capitalised OWWR, which stalled in
1849. In the winter of 1850, Peto & Betts offered to complete signifcant
sections of the OWWR within eighteen months and also proposed to find a
proportion of the finance, in exchange for some control of the company.
Protecting this investment, using dubious and illegal methods would strain the
relationship between the OWWR and Great Western Railway, which was only
resolved in August 1863 (see
gwr/index/railwayconstruction). Slowly some of Samual
Morton Petos more shady deals were revealed and he was ruined in the
banking collapse of 1866.
Another of the subscribers, Mr George Hennet, was a surveyor
and civil engineer. He had worked for IK Brunel on several railway schemes
gaining a reputation for accurate and rapid work. His experience encouraged him
to become a railway contractor and he undertook contracts on several railways,
including both the Oxford & Rugby Railway and Birmingham & Oxford
Junction Railway. He also speculated in other industries, but ill health
overtook him in 1851 and bankcrupcy followed in 1853. He died in 1857.