Railways were big businesses long before the creation of the Big Four after World War I (London, Midland & Scottish, London & North Eastern, Great Western and Southern). Compared with firms in other industries the railway companies were from the start giants in terms of capital employed and numbers of employees. In 1825 there were only eight firms in Britain with a capital of more than £1million – four canals, two docks and two insurance companies. The first main line railway, the Liverpool & Manchester (LMR) opened in 1830 had a capital of some £600,000. By 1840 16 railway companies had more than £1 million authorised capital and the London & Birmingham (LBR) had £5 million. By 1850 the recently amalgamated London & North Western (LNWR) and its constituents had raised £25 million and the industry as a whole over £200 million so dwarfing the fixed investment in cotton, iron and engineering. Like canals and docks railways were authorised by Act of Parliament while it was difficult to form joint stock companies before the legislation of the late 1850s and 1860s, but even so in 1870 the seven largest companies in Great Britain were all railways and the industry as a whole was employing 275,000 or 3.3 per cent of the country’s entire male labour force.