William Barningham and Company, Limited Pendleton Iron Works,
Pendleton, Manchester, Nominal £ 20.
9 November 1874, Share of £ 20, #2217, 17.2 x 25.8 cm, black, grey, embossed seal with tools and rails.
William Barningham was the youngest of 14 children, his first job was delivering letters. He is said to have been a restless, violent drunkard who survived assassination attempts - anyway he was brilliant enough to build a £40m fortune. Leaving for France in 1843, he found work in an iron foundry in Rouen. After raising enough money he set up a business in Pendleton, Manchester, where he had noticed lots of old rails lying around. He bought them cheaply, re-rolled them, and sold them back to the railway as good as new. Later on he erected an iron foundry in Darlington, which received its first order for rails from the Eastern Bengal Railway Company in 1859. Within a decade, all Indian trains ran on his rails as those in Russia and America did. In 1872 he was producing 80,000 tons of finished iron a year and he was employing 2,000 men and boys in the largest ironworks in the north of England.
Click to enlarge