Victoria's Railway King: Sir Edward Watkin (Pen & Sword)

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A detailed biography of Sir Edward Watkin, one of the Victorian era’s greatest entrepreneurs and visionaries. Though generally known for his large-scale railway projects, Watkin was also responsible for a stream of remarkable projects in the nineteenth century which helped shape people’s lives inside and outside Britain.

Watkin was the driving force in the creation of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway’s “London Extension” – the Great Central Main Line to Marylebone in London. This was just one part of Watkin’s great ambition to have a high-speed rail link from Manchester to Paris and ultimately to India. This, of course, involved the construction of a Channel tunnel. Work on this began on both sides of the Channel in 1880 but had to be abandoned due to the fear of invasion from the Continent.

Watkin also purchased an area of Wembley Park, which he developed into a pleasure and events destination for urban Londoners, which later became the site of Wembley Stadium. It was to have been the site of another of Watkin’s enterprises, the ‘Great Tower in London’ which was designed to be higher than the Eiffel Tower but was never completed.

Little is known about Watkin’s personal life, which is explored here through the surviving diaries he kept. The author, Geoff Scargill, is the chair of The Watkin Society and has been able to delve into the mind of one of the nineteenth century’s outstanding individuals. 188 pages including 8 pages of illustration plates. Hardback.

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