Quick Fact Rowntree A-Z

George Hudson

 George Hudson was one of the railways pioneers of the 19th century and at one point he controlled thousands of miles of track. He invested in the North Midland Railway, and then built a railway linking York with towns in the West Riding, raising vast sums of money in the process. Some of his projects, such as the line to Newcastle, attracted criticism for his alleged bribery to key individuals.

His wealth and power enabled him to rise up the political ladder in York, and he became mayor in 1837. In 1845 he was elected Conservative MP for Sunderland, and he argued in the House of Commons against the government control of the railways. With his inside information he was able to manipulate share prices, and eventually confidence in him was undermined and share prices fell and his fortunes collapsed. He admitted his offences and offered to repay his investors. After a short spell in exile in France he returned to York to the debtors prison in the Castle. He died in 1871.

George Hudson and Joseph Rowntree (Senior)

When George Hudson was promoting the York and North Midland Railway’s proposed Scarborough extension, Rowntree alone of the shareholders (who were being asked to contribute a grant of £500 for a survey) sounded a note of caution, drawing attention to the vagueness of the company’s accounts. He was reluctantly drawn into the affairs of the railway company, but eventually resigned after a difference of opinion with the shareholders’ Investigating Committee.

 

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