Railway promoters & financiers

Addy, James
Promoter of  and Deputy Chairtman Dearne Valley Railway; owner of Yorkshire & Derbyshire Coal & Iron Co. see Archive, 2019, (102), 2

Armitage, Robert
Promoter and director of Dearne Valley Railway; wide colliery interests; also director East & West Yorkshire Union Railway. Born at Farnley Hall, Leeds: educated Westminster School and Trinity College, Cambridge. see Archive, 2019, (102), 2

Blount, Sir Edward Charles
Born on 16 March 1809 at Bellamour, near Rugeley, Staffordshire, the second son of Edward Blount (1769–1843), banker and politician, member of a staunchly Catholic family. At home, he gained a knowledge of French from Father Malvoisin, an émigré priest. He was then educated at the grammar school in Rugeley, before attending St Mary's at Oscott, near Birmingham, from 1819 to 1827. In the summer of 1827 he joined the London office of the Provincial Bank of Ireland. He was appointed to the Home Office during George Canning's short-lived ministry and often went to the House of Commons, developing an interest in Catholic emancipation. In the autumn of 1829 Blount was appointed to the British embassy in Paris and served as an attaché under Lord Granville. In the summer of 1830 he transferred to the Rome consulate, where he met Cardinal Weld, Lord Shrewsbury, and the future Napoleon III. Such diplomatic and political connections proved invaluable during his banking career. He returned to Paris in 1831 and abandoned diplomacy to establish a fortune of his own. To begin with Blount lived on a family allowance and dabbled in journalism, writing for the first railway newspaper, The Railway Chronicle, before joining Callaghan & Co., a Paris bank that was agent for the Catholic bank of Wright, Selby & Co., of London. He then set up his own bank with his father's financial backing: Edward Blount, Père et Fils. On 18 November 1834 he married Gertrude Frances Jerningham (d. 1907), daughter of William Charles Jerningham. They had two sons and three daughters. The bank prospered with deposits from wealthy British expatriates. Blount soon formed a partnership with Charles Laffitte, nephew of Jacques Laffitte, a famous financier and politician. From 1836 Laffitte, Blount & Cie became a tireless promoter of French railways. Blount was surprised by French investors' lack of interest and, after parliament excluded state financing for the railways in 1838, he offered to finance and build a line from Paris to Rouen. He easily raised 15 million French francs in London, Liverpool, and Manchester, and this encouraged French investors to subscribe the same amount. The French government lent the project 14 million francs and authorized the line on 15 July 1840. A company, the Chemins de Fer de l'Ouest, was formed by Blount, who became the first chairman. The board of directors was half French and half English, and those who backed the venture included Baron James de Rothschild, Lord Overstone. The line, which was designed by the British civil engineer Joseph Locke, with Thomas Brassey as contractor, was opened on 9 May 1843. To gain a thorough knowledge of railway management, Blount learned engine driving, spending four months on the London and North Western Railway. Buddicom, the locomotive manager of the LNWR at Liverpool, brought over fifty British engine drivers for the French railway, which prospered from the start. Laffitte, Blount & Cie subsequently promoted the construction of the expanding French railway network, in collaboration with Baron James de Rothschild and others. After the failure of the bank following the 1848 revolution, Blount, having paid its creditors in full, resumed business in 1852 as Edward Blount & Co., with the help of Thomas Brassey and other wealthy friends. Between 1838 and 1870 Blount helped finance the Rouen–Le Havre, Amiens–Boulogne, Nord–Dieppe–Fécamp, Creil–Saint-Quentin, Lyons–Avignon, and Lyons–Geneva railways. When these were absorbed into regional networks, Blount joined the board of the new companies, acting as director of the Compagnie du Nord, director and vice-chairman of the Paris–Lyons–Mediterranean railways, and chairman of the Chemins de Fer de l'Ouest until 1894. Blount also promoted Swiss, Austrian, Portuguese, and Middle Eastern railways, such as the Fell Railway over Mont-Cenis; and he financed other major engineering projects, becoming chairman of the Compagnie des Eaux. Attracted by the technical challenge he also invested in the Compagnie des Polders de l'Ouest to reclaim marshes as farmland, and the Channel Tunnel Company losing money in both ventures. To raise money for these projects Blount joined the Réunion Financière in 1856, a coalition of private bankers set up by James de Rothschild to counteract the rise of the Pereires' Credit Mobilier. In 1864 Blount was a founding member of Société Générale de Paris. In 1870 he transferred his business to this limited-liability bank and became its chairman. In 1901 he was made honorary chairman, remaining the bank's London agent. For his services during the Siege of Paris Blount was made CB on 13 March 1871, and KCB on 2 June 1878. He was also a commander of the Légion d'honneur. Blount founded and chaired the British chamber of commerce in Paris. He also belonged to the Paris Cercle de l'Union, the French Jockey Club, and the Reform Club in London. Additionally, he acted as banker to the papal government. After the war of Italian independence of 1859, and the annexation of the Papal States to the new kingdom of Italy, he had the delicate task of arranging the transfer of the financial liabilities of the Papal States to the new Italian government, and the conversion of the papal debt. A benefactor of the Roman Catholic church in Britain, Blount built a school near Birmingham, and a church at East Grinstead. Devoted to the turf, he was a patron of the stable of the Comte de Lagrange; and following the latter's death in 1883 he kept a small stable of his own. Blount died at his home, Imberhorne, East Grinstead, Sussex, on 15 March 1905. ODNB entry by Isabelle Lescent-Giles

Brown, Ashley Geikie
Died 13 September 1957. General Secretary, British Railway Stockholders' Union. Worked for Admiralty; Special Grants Committee, Ministry of Pensions, 1914–18. One of the founders of the Railway Reform League, 1931; Member of the Council and Committee of the British Railway Stockholders Union, 1932–43, and General Sec. of that organisation, 1933–38; attached to General Manager’s Department, GWR, 1943–47. Publications: Greece Old and New, 1927; Sicily Present and Past, 1928; two works on railway matters: The Future of the Railways, 1928; The Railway Problem, 1932. Latterly lived in Wicklow. Letter Locomotive Mag., 1934, 40, 395..

Cavendish, William, 7th Duke of Devonshire
Born in London, 27 April 1808; died at Holker Hall in Furness. Educted at Eton and at  Trinity College Cambridge where he was Second Wrangler. Mathematician. Between 1834 and 1858 he was the Earl of Burlington. He played a leading part in launching the Furness Railway in 1843; this was designed to facilitate the transport of their estates' slate and iron ore to the coast at the village of Barrow, and eventually to a vast development in Barrow in terms of docks and urban development. He was a generous benefactor both in Barrow and in education, The Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge owed its inception to him. Extensive ODNB entry by F.M.L. Thompson. David Joy. Two dukes and a lord. Backtrack, 2018, 32, 292.   

Coffin, Walter
Born in 1784 he was the second son of Walter Coffin, founder of a tanning business in Bridgend, and his second wife Anne Morgan. Coffin was descended from a well known Bridgend family, the Prices of Ty'n Ton, into which his grandfather, an owner of an estate in Selworthy, had married. Coffin was educated at Cowbridge Grammar School and later at a nonconformist academy in Exeter; in 1804 he returned to Wales to join the family business. In 1791 his father had purchased several farmsteads in the parish of Llantrisant, including the area of Dinas Uchef Farm from William Humphries. In 1809, at the age of 24 and bored with the tanning industry, he set out to prospect for coal at his father's farm land in Dinas. He terminated the tenancy of Lewis Robert Richard at the site and with the financial support of his father began prospecting. At a depth of 40 yards a good seam of bituminous coal was struck at the Dinas Lower Colliery. When Coffin marketed his "Dynas No. 3" coal, later known as "Coffin's Coal", it gained an excellent reputation for its quality and low impurities, popular in metal working and coking. Coffin then needed to address the issue of transport. . In 1794 the Glamorganshire Canal was completed, linking the ironworks of Merthyr to Coffin's intended market at Cardiff Docks. One of the early proprietors of the canal, Dr. Richard Griffiths, had constructed a two-mile tramroad from his own coal level at Denia (Pontypridd), bridging the River Taff before his own private canalwork linked to the Glamorganshire Canal at Treforest. Coffin quickly made arrangements to construct a one-mile tramline to connect his mines in Dinas to that at Griffiths's Denia level and by 1810 the two men entered an agreement ensuring all coal raised in the Lower Rhondda used their interconnecting lines. Coffin now had transport links to the coast, his next step would be in finding a market. Coffin became a deputy chairman of the Taff Vale Railway in 1846, and in 1855 its Chairman. In 1812, Coffin moved his family from Nolton in Bridgend to Llandaff Court in Cardiff, a move which saw his influence and standing increase. He became a Justice of the Peace around the early 1830s and in 1835 was an alderman of Cardiff. He continued his rise in society becoming the mayor of Cardiff in 1848. Coffin became a Member of Parliament for Cardiff (1852–57) as a Unitarian Liberal, and was the Wales's first Nonconformist parliamentary representative. During his five years in the House of Commons, he never addressed the house. In 1857 he gave up his seat in Parliament and moved permanently to England to be near his family. He died on 15 February 1867 at his home in Kensington, but was buried at the Unitatian Church graveyard, Park Street, Bridgend. Mainly Wikipedia. Barrie. The Taff Vale Railway

Cooke, Thomas
Duffell (Backtrack, 2019, 33, 563) notes that he instigated the purchase of Bury enngines when a director of the London & Southampton Railway and Hodgkins George Carr Glyn notes that he was a northern director of the London & Birmingham Railway

Currey, Benjamin
Clerk to the House of Lords. Financial adviser to the  Duke of Devonshire. First Chairman of the Furness RailwayTwo dukes and a lord. Backtrack, 2018, 32, 292.   

Eyton, Thomas Campbell
Born in Wellington, Shropshire on 10 September 1809 into a landowning family

Galloway, William Johnson
Born in Sale on 5 October 1868; died in London on 28 January 1931. Educated at Wellington College and Trinity Hall, Cambridge. Joined family business of boiler making in Manchester. MP foor a time. Director of Great Eastern Railway from 1903; then LNER until his death. Buried Weaste Cemetry. Conducted musical concerts held in Royal Albert Hall: see presentation to him Locomotive Mag., 1914, 20, 207.

Garnett, Robert
Duffell (Backtrack, 2019, 33, 563) notes that he instigated the purchase of Bury enngines when a director of the London & Southampton Railway and Hodgkins George Carr Glyn notes that he was a highly active Liverpool director of the London & Birmingham Railway.

Gaskell, Holbrook
Born in Wavertree, Liverpool on. 5  March 1813; the eldest son of Roger Gaskell, a sailcloth manufacturer. He was the cousin of the Unitarian minister William Gaskell, husband of the novelist Mrs Gaskell and was from a Unitarian family himself. He was educated privately at a school in Norton near Sheffield. Died at Woolton Woods on 8 March 1909 . Probate was almost £500,000.
Worked as an apprentice clerk in the firm of Yates, Cox and Co, who were iron merchants and nail makers in Liverpool. In 1836 formed a partnership with James Nasmyth which led to the creation of Nasmyth, Gaskell and Co and the building of the Bridgewater Foundry at Patricroft near Manchester. Nasmyth recalls this in his biography "He had served his time at Yates and Cox, iron merchants, of Liverpool. Having obtained considerable experience in the commercial details of that business, and being possessed of a moderate amount of capital, he was desirous of joining me, and embarking his fortune with me. He was to take charge of the counting-house department, and conduct such part of the correspondence as did not require any special knowledge of mechanical engineering. I am much pleased by the frank and friendly manner of Mr. Gaskell, and I believe that the feeling between us was mutual. We continued working together for a period of sixteen years; and I believe Mr. Gaskell had no reason to regret his connection to the Bridgewater Foundry".
In 1841 he married Frances Ann Bellhouse, who was the daughter of Henry Bellhouse of Manchester and niece of David Bellhouse, the Manchester builder that Nasmyth and Gaskell had contracted during the initial building of the Patricroft site. Over the next 13 years they had 8 children, 5 daughters and three sons.
In 1855 he entered into a second partnership with the industrial chemist Henry Deacon, who had worked with him in Nasmyth, Gaskell and Co. Gaskell, Deacon and Co's plant in Widnes was set up to develop the ammonia-soda process that Deacon believed he could make successful. However, after various setbacks, Gaskell could not see this making money and he forced Deacon to abandon the venture. Instead they established one of the largest and most successful Leblanc factories in Widnes. Gaskell's three sons, Holbrook II, James Bellhouse and Frank all became partners in the company. In 1860 when the governments of Britain and France formed a treaty to raise duties on materials made from salt, Holbrook Gaskell went with Edmund Knowles Muspratt to Paris to negotiate terms for the manufacturers. Gaskell remained a director of the company until 1890 when it became part of the United Alkali Co. He became vice president and later president of that company. Gaskell served as a magistrate in Widnes, was an active liberal and a member of the Liverpool Reform Club, supporting causes including the extension of the franchise. He endowed a chair of botany and provided chemistry laboratories at University College, Liverpool. He paid for public baths in Widnes and supported convalescent homes in Heswall and Southport. He was involved with the Liverpool Daily and Weekly Post and Echo and when this amalgamated with the Liverpool Mercury in 1904 he became its chairman. He owned a fine art collection which included works by Turner and Constable which was loaned to the Walker Art Gallery in 1885. With his accumulated wealth Holbrook Gaskell moved to Woolton Woods in Much Woolton. He became a renowned collector of orchids. Frederick Sander, an orchid dealer, received a new Cattleya species in 1883 from his collector Seidl and named it Cattleya gaskelliana after Holbrook Gaskell in recognition of a good customer and someone who "by great diligence has acquired one of the finest collections of orchids in the North of England". He was buried in the churchyard of Cairo Street chapel, Warrington. The estate of Woolton Woods passed to his sons who sold it to Col James P Reynolds, who in turn sold it to Liverpool City Council. Via  Graces Guide

Gould, Jason (Jay)
Born in Roxbury in New York State on 27 May 1836; died of tuberculosis in New York on 2 December 1892. From 1859 became a major speculator in Amercian railroad finaance; beginning with small railroads and moving on to control the Erie Railroad, Union Pacific and other lines. Mausoleum in Woodlawn Cemetery, New York and Jay Gould Memorial Reformed Church. Wikipedia and Humm J. Rly Canal Hist. Soc., 2015, 38, 252.

Hornby, William Henry
Born on 2 July 1805 in Blackburn into family of cotton spinners. He followed into this business, adopting steam power for the spinning machinery, and his Brookhouse Mills became one of the llargest local employers. He promoted the Blackburn, Darwen & Bolton Raillway which included a major tunnel at Sough (see Jeffrey Wells, Backtrack, 2015, 29, 366). He became a Director of the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway, Mayor of  Blackburn and a Tory MP, but he appears to have been an enlightened employer. He had  been a keen athlete in his youth and one of his Albert Neilson Hornby was a notable cricketer. He died  at Poole Hall in Cheshire on 5 September 1884. J. Geoffrey Timmins ODNB entry makes no mention of the railway (yet another failing in this so-called national treasure)

Hague, Ernest
Promoter of Dearne Valley Railway; owner of Hickleton Main and Manvers Main Collieries. see Archive, 2019, (102), 2

Hunter, Edward
Promoter of Dearne Valley Railway; owner of Houghton Main and Manvers Main Collieries see Archive, 2019, (102), 2

Louderback, Delancey
Chicago millionaire and associate of Yerkes. Made his money through real estate and street railways. Sent by Yerkes to London to assess potential. M.A.C. Horne. London's District Railway. Volume 2.

McLaren, William
Died at his residence, Blackdown, Woking, on 14 January 1916 aged 62 years. He was chairman of G.D. Peters & Co., Ltd., of Moorfields; The Superheater Corporation, Ltd., Westminster, and the Patent Impermeable Millboard Co., Sunbury-on-Thames Locomotive Mag., 1916, 22, 40. .

Manning, John
Partner in Manning Wardle: see Lowe

Mosley, Tonman (Lord Anslow)
Born in Anslow, Burton upon Trent on 16 January 1850; died on 20 August 1933. Educated at Repton between 1862 and 1868 and Corpus Christi, Oxford 1868-71. Practiced as a barrister, Chairman of Buckinghamshire County Council 1904-1921 and Chairman of the North Staffordshire Railway 1904-1923. Wikipedia 19-02-2018. Portrait Backtrack, 2018, 32, 146

Nicholson, Cornelius
See Jeffrey Wells, Backtrack, 2015, 29, 646. Fought unsuccessfully for Lancaster & Carlsle Railway to be routed through Kendal. See also Backtrack, 2016, 30, 715

Renton, James Hall
Invested his personal fortune in West Highland Railway: figurehead of him at Rannoch station Humm J. Rly Canal Hist. Soc., 2015, 38, 252. See also Backtrack, 26, 410, for photograph of memorial. Chairman of the Ayrshire & Wigtownshire Railway formed in 1887 to take over the Girvan & Portpatrick Railway (see Locomotive Mag., 1946, 52, 120. Also Deputy Chairman Forth Bridge Company and Director LTSR (Dawn Smith).

Roberts, Hugh Beavor
Solicitor with interests in slate industry in North Wales and had an influence on the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways and the purchase of its locomotives, See Deegan Rly World, 1983, 44, 298

Rushton, Thomas Lever
Born: Bolton 1811. Died: Cannes, France 8 February 1883. Banker, solicitor, industrialist and landowner. Proprietor of Bolton Ironworks as Rushton and Eckersley. He was a partner in Bolton's first commercial bank, Hardcastle, Cross & Co. (Grace's Guide). See also article by Peter Townend in Rly Arch., 2016 (50), 53 which includes portrait of him.

Russell, James Cholmeley
Born in Bloomsbury on 26 June 1841. Died 29 August 1912. Brought up at Longdene House, Haslemere: father had a  large chancery and bankruptcy practice. Educated at Harrow School (1855–1859) and Magdalene College, Oxford (graduated 1864). Barrister, financier, property developer and railway entrepreneur. He was a key shareholder of the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways company  (ultimately receiver for) from which the Welsh Highland Railway Company ultimately emerged. Business associate of the engineer, Sir James Weeks Szlumper. Russell was involved with various other railway schemes including the Manchester and Milford Railway and the Vale of Rheidol. 1892, he was involved in an ultimately unsuccessful project for a railway between Royal Exchange and Waterloo. During the last decade of his life, Russell spent several months of the year in Scotland having acquired Creag Mhor at Onich near Fort William and cruised from here in his steam yacht Madge. From 1900, Russell was winding down but suffered from increasing ill health and in 1912, he died of a stroke, aged 71. Russell appears to have owned at least two if not three steam yachts. The Royal Highland Yacht Club records show him as visiting with a 37 ton steamer called Rona between 1906 and 1909. However the website Clydeships shows Rona registered to Russell from 1910 onwards, finally being disposed of by his widow in 1915. The locomotive Russell was financed by him and named after him. Mainly Wikipedia also Deegan Rly World, 1983, 44, 298

Salomons, Sir David
Born 22 November 1797. Died in London on 15 July 1873. Stockbroker and banker. Member of Parliament. Sought Jewish emancipatuion. ODNB.

Scott, Walter Francis Montagu Douglas (Fifth Duke of Buccleuch)
Born 25 November 1806; died on 16 April 1884. Improved the port of Granton and together with the Duke of Devonshire devleloped Barrow-in-Furness including the Furness Railway which was developed into a coast-line of the first importance, and large docks were built. The Duke of Buccleuch continued to be a director of the Furness Railway until his death, and always took an active interest in the progress of the company, and especially in the Barrow Docks. David Joy. Two dukes and a lord. Backtrack, 2018, 32, 292.   

Tomline, George
Born 3 March 1813; died in London on 25 August 1889. Educated Eton. Performed Grand Tour. MP for constuencies in Lincolnshire and Shropshire. Developed Felixstoew  Railway and Dock. Residence at Orwell Park.

Van Sweringen brothers (Vans)
Oris Paxton was born on 26 April 1879 and died on 22 November 1936. Mantis James was born on 8 July 1881 and died on 12 December 1935. Inseperable brothers who owned or controlled an enormous railroad mileage by the 1930s. Mausoleum at Shaker Heights in Cleveland. Internet and J. Rly Canal Hist. Soc., 2015, 38, 252..

Wemyss, Randolph Gordon Erskine
Born in Wemyss Castle on 11 July 1858. Following a death in November 1907 at the Lochhead and Victoria of a miner, Wemyss, assisted with the underground rescue operations, and developed symptoms from shock and exposure. He never recovered and died on 17 July 1908. He was buried at Wemyss in the Chapel Garden. He had been tutored at home by Revd. John Thomson; minister of St. Adrian’s church in West Wemyss, until he entered Eton College in 1873. Following the early death of his father in March 1864, he inherited the Lairdship and the estates. Day to day management was carried out by his mother until he reached the age of twenty-one. The principal activity on the estate was coal extraction centred on West Wemyss, under the Wemyss Coal Company. A new wet dock was opened in 1872 at a cost of £10,000. Railway schemes were developed to assist the business, and construction of the Wemyss Private Railway from Thornton to Buckhaven began in 1879, and was completed in 1881 at a cost of £25,000.
In January 1900 he embarked on the steam yacht Vanadis for a honeymoon cruise to Egypt and South Africa. The honeymoon, however, was interrupted by the outbreak of the Boer War. Wemyss donated the yacht to the war effort as a hospital ship and he was promoted to the rank of Captain and on 4 September 1900 travelled to Mafeking with Charles Cavendish, 3rd Baron Chesham. He returned from South Africa in July 1901. After his service in the Boer War, business continued in the coalfields on his estates, the docks at Methil and the creation of the Wemyss and District Tramways Company from Leven to Kirkcaldy.
As a benevolent landlord, he provided improved housing for workers. He oversaw the developments at East and Coaltown of Wemyss, and a new village at Denbeath. He personally spent around £75,000 on housing in the parish. The Randolph Wemyss Memorial Hospital was erected in Buckhaven in his memory at a cost of £10,000, and opened on 28 August 1909. Not in ODNB: Wikipedia (09-01-2017) and Munro. The railways of Wemyss  NBRSGJ, 1995 (60), 4.

Whitbread, William
Bedford land owner, born in 1795 and died in 1867; related to brewing family. Briefly MP for Bedford. Promoter of Leicester and Hitchin Railway (a brief element in communication between the East Midlands and London via the Great Northern Railway. Mention en passim: Peter Butler The stations at Wellingborough.  Backtrack, 2020, 34, 36

Wills, Charles
Born at Denbury, Newton Abbot on 1 March 1838; died 17 April 1921. Bristol clothing manufacturer. Promoted the expension of Avonmouth Docks and was involved in the proposed Bristol, London & Southern Counties Railway to connect Bristol with the London & South Western at Overton and the Midland & South Western at Collinbourne. Reginald Fellows. Rival routes to Bristol. Part 2. Railway World, 1960, 21, 359.

Yerkes, Charles Tyson (duplicate entry)
Born in Philadelphia, USA, on 28 June 1837 and died in New York on 29 December 1905. Name rhymes wityh "turkeys". He was a financial speculator who had made a fortune on the stock exchange by the age of 30, but was subsequently sent to prison for embezzlement, but this did not deter his progress for long as he subsequently became involved in investing in transport for Chicago including the Loop elevated railway. When the going became too hot there he moved to London in the 1890s and joined with Edgar Speyer and Robert William Perks to invest in the London Undergroud system, notably by electrifying the District line and by financing the completion of the tube lines. ODNB biography by Theo Barker. See also Stephen Halliday's Fraud, liquidation and ingratitude. Backtrack, 2008, 22, 437. and Tim Sherwood's Charles Tyson Yerkes: the traction king of London. 2008. M.A.C. Horne. London's District Railway. Volume 2.

2019-10-19
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