PETO was in the Victorian age as prominent a figure in the world of business and transport as Richard Branson is today.
He has left us an impressive range of practical achievements including the massive railway viaducts at Hanwell on the GWR and at Folkestone on the South Eastern Railway. In addition he built a considerable mileage of lines and stations within an area stretching from Dorchester to Lowestoft and from Southend to Doncaster.
Abroad he was particularly instrumental in the construction of lines in Denmark and Canada. He also played a significant part in the Crimean War effort by planning and building a railway to carry troops to the front across rain-soaked land for which he was granted a Baronetcy by Queen Victoria.
This book provides a long-needed reassessment of a major Victorian man of action, who at the same time was a significant financial manipulator and whose activities were both admired and condemned by his contemporaries. An attempt has also been made to correct some of the longstanding myths relating to his activities as a large-scale employer of labour and a pioneer of social reform.
“John Cox’s splendid study is most refreshing and welcome . . . [he] has delved deep into many a manuscript, and all credit to him for sorting out not only Peto’s many and often simultaneous undertakings … but other activities . . . Cox has done well in unravelling the dates and projects” — Journal of the Permanent Way Institution
“At 128 pages, this is a slender, but well-illustrated and produced volume . . . a succinct tribute to a great Victorian entrepreneur” — International Journal for the History of Engineering and Technology