Monday, January 17, 2011

Malcolm's comment about railway shareholding

Malcolm made an interesting comment on my last post. We were discussing whether the fact that the owner of a large estate invested in railway shares was interesting or not. Malcolm pointed out that the very substantial investment by the Earl of Leicester, owner of the very large Holkham Hall estate, in railway shares, was just prior to the expansion of railway track near his estate. This would indeed be interesting if:

  • we could see a pattern, such as other estate owners also making large investments
  • we could infer from this that the estate owners knew that they would be able to increase rents as a result of 'extracting' the savings from their tenants. If thus was the case, the estate owners were getting a free ride: their investment in railway shares would be (probably) be profitable AND they trousered the extra rents. Nice work if you can get it!
The difficulty with this is finding out whether an estate owner was a shareholder. Records do exist, but it would be a monumental task to go through them. Unless anyone has seen a searchable database?

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