Graham Trust explains how the Liverpool and Manchester Railway was finally able to go ahead

Resource Type: Audio | Posted on 5th August 2011 by Liam Physick

Graham Trust relates how William Huskisson was able to revive the moribund Liverpool and Manchester Railway project by persuading George Leveson-Gower, 2nd Marquess of Stafford (later 1st Duke of Sutherland), owner of the Bridgewater Canal that connected Liverpool and Manchester (and thus threatened by the Railway) to buy shares in the company, thus ensuring the success of the second bill, and illustrating the importance of who you know as well as (or, perhaps, rather than) what you know, as John Moss noted at the time. However, by buying into the company and thus enabling its success, Stafford (who had previously been involved in the notorious Highland Clearances in Scotland) unwittingly spelt doom for his original interest

Interviewee: Graham Trust

Interviewee Gender: Male

Date of Interview: 16th November 2010

Interview Transcript

Jenny: When Stephenson was dismissed, what really turned it round, what, you know, when did the bill get passed, and what were the events leading up to that?

Graham: The events leading up to that. The big thing about this was that the, the Liverpool Tory MP, William Huskisson, he’s, he’s at the fulcrum here, the Marquess of Stafford, who owned the Bridgewater Canal, which was the main artery between Liverpool and Manchester, the Marquess of Stafford, in years gone by, during the French Revolution, was the ambassador from the English (sic) court, and William Huskisson was his secretary. Now, it’s only after the rejection of the first bill, that Huskisson started to use his influence with the Marquess of Stafford, and he persuaded the Marquess, as well as James Lock, who was the Marquess’s business representative, persuaded the Marquess to at least talk to the Liverpool and Manchester board, and there were three of the board who were appointed to try and persuade the Marquess of Stafford to take an interest in the Railway. One of them was John Moss, the other was the chairman, Charles Lawrence, and the other fella was Joseph Sandars . . .

Jenny: (laughs) It was really the original, kind of, people.

Graham: Yeah . . .

Jenny: Yeah.

Graham: . . . it’s them, yeah, and during the course of the summer, they held negotiations with the Marquess, and, by Boxing Day of 1825, they had actually persuaded the Marquess to take 1000 shares in the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, and that, that was the real key to, to the success of the second bill, which came in in May 1826, and Moss was moved to say, “Something more than a good case is necessary to secure a bill passing” i.e. it’s not what you know, which they did, in 1825, when they had a fantastic case, it’s who you know . . .

Jenny: Yeah.

Graham: . . .and the Marquess accepted the 1000 shares and he was permitted to put three of his men, men on the board of the railway, and, once the Railway got through Parliament, the Marquess’s men seldom attended the board meetings, and they were very confused as to what they were supposed to do, they had a, they were serving a master with two conflicting interests, one was the canal from Liverpool to Manchester, one was the railway from Liverpool to Manchester, so they saw it as their duty to extract as much money from the Liverpool and Manchester as they could for the Marquess, so whatever was good for the Liverpool and Manchester, they thought, was good for the Marquess, and that, I think, is a really crucial point, about the success of the railways, that is the point which sounded the death knell of the canals, it was a long death by 1000 cuts but it was the death knell nonetheless in my opinion.

Tagged under: liverpool and manchester railway, william huskisson, canals, john moss, bridgewater canal, joseph sandars, marquess of stafford

Categorised under: The Station & Railway Pioneers

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