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GWR Route: Banbury to Wolverhampton

Leamington Station: gwrls3981

Copy of the Subscription Document for financing the GWR Loop Line through the Town of Leamington

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 1840’s, railway company’s 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 Peto’s 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.

Robert Ferris