Peto and Betts
c.1847 Edward Ladd Betts entered into partnership with Samuel Morton Peto to construct the Great Northern loop line from Peterborough, through Boston, Lincoln, and Gainsborough, Doncaster; the East Lincolnshire Railway from Boston to Louth; the Oxford and Birmingham; the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton; the Great Southern of Buenos Ayres; and the Dunaburg and Witepsk railway, in Russia; also the line from Algiers to Bledah, for the French Government, and many smaller works, including the Netherlands land drainage.
From c1851, many large and important works were executed by Messrs. Peto and Betts in connection with Mr. Brassey including the Jutland and North and South Schleswig railways, in Denmark; the Lyons and Avignon, in France; the Tilbury and Southend; the Hereford, Ross and Gloucester Railway; the South London and Crystal Palace railways; the Victoria (London) Dock; the Thames Graving Docks; and many other works; also with Mr Jackson the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada (including the Victoria Tubular Bridge across the River St. Lawrence at Montreal).
Peto and Betts had always been amenable to major speculation; for example, once they had built the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway, they leased it as operators for twenty-one years from the opening in 1854, a speculation said in 1863 to be losing £24,000 a year
1858 Jackson left the partnership with Peto, Betts and Brassey.
c.1861 The company of Thomas Brassey, Samuel Morton Peto and Edward Ladd Betts built the Victoria Bridge, Worcestershire using arch elements cast by the Coalbrookdale Co.
In the 1860s, Peto, Betts and Crampton agreed to build a line between London Bridge and Victoria for the London, Chatham and Dover Railway and to be paid entirely in the company's shares and debentures. To raise the funding for the construction they became involved in complicated finance-raising schemes, and with their overseas operations hindered by war, they overstretched themselves. Consequently, Peto and Betts were probably the most prominent casualties of the collapse of the bank Overend, Gurney and Co (1866) and the ensuing banking crisis when railway stocks were particularly badly affected and the London, Chatham and Dover Railway became insolvent and therefore the shares they had been paid in became worthless.
Peto and Betts were jointly responsible for certain railway contracts in Denmark with Thomas Brassey. When they failed the total Danish liabilities of the partners were about £800,000.
Sources of Information
- Obituary of Samuel Morton Peto, ODNB
- The Edinburgh Gazette 9 July 1867