Thursday, 23 February 2012

Introducing: Ross D. Mangles - A 1840s Railway Director

I won't bore you with all the details, but currently I am using my spare time to establish whether certain individuals in the 1840s sat on more than one railway company's board, and, therefore, created a link between the businesses. This isn't an easy task, and involves transcribing the names of all railway company directors in 1848 from a directory. It is an understatement to say it is time-consuming.

So far, one director has stood out - Ross D. Mangles. In my work I have come across some famous directors from the period, such as George Carr Glyn. But I had never heard of Mangles. This said, I am sure I have encountered a relative of his, Charles Mangles, one of the directors of the London and South Western Railway, the company on which I am doing my PhD. In 1848 Ross on the following companies' boards:

Aylesbury Railway
Buckinghamshire Railway
Dunstable, and London and Birmingham Railway
East and West Docks and Birmingham Junction
London and North Western Railway

Central to Mangles' directorships was his position on the board of the London and North Western Railway, Britain's largest and most influential company at this time. Indeed, all the other companies listed were much smaller, but had links with the L&NWR through feeding into its business in some way. Therefore, it is very likley that he was on their boards to influence their policy in the L&NWR's favour.

Ultimately, this why determining the links that were established between railway companies via their directorates is important. Viewing railway companies in the Victorian period in isolation is erroneous, as informal bonds with neighbouring ones influenced corporate policies, such as take-overs, mergers, operations and train services. Thus, while the boundary of one company may seemingly end at its railhead, its influence through its directors may go even further.

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