Morton Peto

Sir Samuel Morton Peto (* August 4, 1809 in Woking, Surrey, † November 13, 1889 in Black Hurst, Tunbridge Wells, Kent ) was an English railway entrepreneur in the 19th century.


Peto was born in Dorking on August 4, 1809 Whitmoor House in Woking in Surrey, the eldest son of farmer William Peto († 1849) from Cookham, Berkshire and his wife Sophia Alloway. He attended the village school in Cobham, then the Jardine - boarding school in Brixton Hill, Surrey. He was in London an apprenticeship with his uncle, who led a construction business. After the death of his uncle in 1830, he took with his cousin Thomas Grissell, the company that built many famous buildings in London. These included the building of the Oxford & Cambridge Club ( 1836-38 ), Charles Barry's Reform Club (1836 ), the new building of the Lyceum Theatre spent ( 1831-34 ), FW Bushall 's Olympic Theatre (1849 ) and St. James Theatre in the Palace Street, as well as Nelson's Column (1834 ), the foundation of the Houses of Parliament and the London sewer brick. In 1847 he was elected as a Member of the Liberal Party in the House of Commons in 1859 for Finsbury and 1865 for Bristol.

In 1846 Peto entered into a partnership with Edward Betts. With it he built until 1855 many large railway lines at home and abroad. Among others, it was the South Eastern Railway, the London, Chatham and Dover Railway, the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway and the Grand Trunk Railway in Canada. Together with Thomas Brassey built Peto in 1854 on the Crimean peninsula, a rail link from Balaklava to Sevastopol, which used to transport materials and people during the Crimean War.

In Germany he was able in 1859 to obtain concessions from four states for the Homburg Railway Company, the other candidates were not issued despite years of efforts. He was also in the duchy of Schleswig and the duchy of Holstein to that of the crown of Denmark were subject at the time, successfully build the railway operates. He operated the North and Südschleswiger sheets until 1865. Contrast, he did not succeed in 1859, to receive from the Government of the Duchy of Nassau, the concession for the Westerwald railway, Cologne and Frankfurt am Main should connect.

For his services to the railway construction Peto was raised to the peerage.

He devoted his attention to the city Lowestoft on the eastern tip of England, near his magnificent residence in Somerleyton Hall ( Jakobi table, 1843 by John Evan Thomas in the Italian style remodeled ), which he joined by a branch line of the railway network. He expanded there also the port for 1000 vessels built some luxury hotels and put a beach promenade and park at this well established resort on.

The economic crisis of 1866 led on May 11 for his company's insolvency. He had also tried using false information to sell shares. He had 4 million pounds of debt, even his banker went bankrupt. He had to give up the seat in Parliament, although he enjoyed the patronage of Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone. Already in 1863 he had sold Somerleyton Hall to Sir Francis Crossley, a carpet dealer from Yorkshire. He retired anch Budapest, where he planned the regulation of the Danube and tried in Russia to build later in Cornwall railways. In 1884 he moved to Blackhurst in Tunbridge Wells in Kent, where he died after a long illness. He was buried in Pembury.

Peto was married twice and had eleven children. One of his sons was the architect and garden designer Harold Peto Ainsworth.