Media and the British Railway Mania of the 1840s – The Property Chronicle
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Media and the British Railway Mania of the 1840s

The Historian

A Prediction

Not yet the railway mania flags, 

All are agog for speculation;

But such a multitude of stags

May terminate in a stag-nation. 

The Times (London, England), Tuesday September 2, 1845

The railway mania was a time of promotion of several railway projects and speculative buying of railway shares during the 1840s in Great Britain and Ireland. Odlyzko (2010) in analysing the mania said that the railway mania was the greatest technology mania in British history and its collapse was one of the greatest financial crashes. At the height of the mania the individual capitalist was investing twice as much money on public infrastructure as their nation was expending on the military. Legislation also helped the mania to blossom as at its peak nearly 272 Railway Acts of Parliament were passed, many new railway companies were founded and routes totalling a sizable 9500 miles of railway were proposed. 

Railway capital investment reached a level of £44 million in 1847, with practically all of the financing derived from private sources especially individuals. It was in the same year that 1354 miles were approved by the Parliament and an active interest in railway expansion prevailed. Thereafter things started going downhill with railway companies involved in great financial difficulties till finally when they went bust. The financial media at that time was predicting economic conditions which might lead to the bubble going bust. Amongst these were the two leading newspapers-the Times and the Economist. 

The Historian

About Tehreem Husain

Tehreem Husain

Tehreem Husain is a doctoral candidate at the UCL Bartlett School of Construction and Project Management. She is a regular columnist for the business pages of Pakistan's English daily newspaper, The Express Tribune, and is a blogger for Huffington Post UK. Before moving to the UK, she worked as an economic analyst at the Monetary Policy department of the State Bank of Pakistan, the country's central bank.

Articles by Tehreem Husain

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