Transport Capitalism in the Early 1830s
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Transport Capitalism in the Early 1830s book
The coming of the railways in Britain in the 1820s had disrupted the relatively settled pattern of transport and had created a seemingly limitless opportunity for entrepreneurial energy. Yet it was a piecemeal and jerky development, often hesitant, frequently subject to mindless optimism or partisan pessimism, but never guided by the direction of a central authority. No one could predict the overall outcome of the expansion of railway investment; decisions were necessarily made in isolation and the government remained extremely diffident, even hostile, towards the idea of intervention. It was in this environment that the railways were pioneered. The early railway promoters improvised solutions to a bewildering series of problems, paid for their mistakes, and bought their own compromises with their opponents, the public and the government. Varying measures of competition and collusion moulded the character of the evolving transport system in the 1830s.