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Edward Ladd Betts

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Edward Ladd Betts (1815-1872) of Peto and Betts

1815 June 5th. Born at Bucklands, Dover, the son of William Betts (1790-1867) and his wife Elizabeth Hayward Ladd ( -1847)

1836 Resident supervisor for Hugh McIntosh on the construction of Dutton Viaduct[1]

1843 July 6th. Married Ann (1821-1861), the youngest daughter of William Peto, of Cannon Court, Cookham, Berks, and the sister of Samuel Morton Peto.[2]

1844 Birth of son Edward Peto Betts

1846 Birth of daughter Elizabeth Peto Betts

1847 Birth of son Morton Peto Betts

1849 Birth of daughter Alice Peto Betts

1850 Birth of son Ernest William Peto Betts

c1850 Bought a 'palatial residence', Preston Hall near Aylesford in Kent, and had it rebuilt in a Jacobean style, where he employed a staff of 18 in addition to his home at 29 Tavistock Square, London.

1851 Living at 29 Tavistock Square, London: Edward Ladd Betts (age 35 born Buckland, Kent), Engineer. With his wife Ann Betts (age 30 born Great Marlow) and their children Edward Peto Betts (age 6 born Wateringbury, Kent), Elizabeth Peto Betts (age 5 born St. Pancras), Morton Peto Betts (age 4 born St. Pancras), Alice Peto Betts (age 2 born Cookham), Ernest William Peto Betts (age 6 Months born Aylesford). Eight servants.[3]

1856 Birth of Percy Campbell Betts

1857 Birth of son Herbert Peto Betts

1858 Birth of daughter Annie Gertrude Betts

1861 Staying at the Royal Hotel, Plymouth: Edward Ladd Betts (age 45 born Buckland, Kent), Deputy Lieut. and Magistrate, Civil Engineer. With Ann Betts (age 40 born Great Marlow), Edward Peto Betts (age 16 born Wateringbury, Kent), and Elizabeth Peto Betts (age 15 born London).[4]

1866 Peto, Betts and Crampton had agreed to build a line between London Bridge and Victoria for the London, Chatham and Dover Railway, to be paid entirely in the company's shares and debentures. To raise the funds for construction they became involved in complicated finance-raising schemes but overstretched themselves. Consequently, they were probably the most prominent casualties of the collapse of the bank Overend, Gurney and Co and the ensuing banking crisis when railway stocks were particularly badly affected. They were unable to pay their creditors and became insolvent in the following year.

1867 Sir Samuel Morton Peto, Bart., Edward Ladd Betts, and Thomas Russell Crampton, all of Great George-street, Westminster, in the county of Middlesex, being Traders, and carrying on business in copartnership as Contractors for Constructing Public Works, and Builders, under the style or firm of Peto, Betts and Crampton, were adjudicated bankrupts on the 3rd day of July, 1867.[5]

1872 January 21st. Died at Aswan, Egypt

1872 Burial at Aylesford, Kent


1873 Obituary [6]

. . . born at Bucklands, near Dover, on the 5th of June, 1815. He was the eldest son of Mr. William Betts, of Sandown, Kent. At an early age he was apprenticed to a builder named Richardson, in Lincoln, and showed great aptitude for mechanical pursuits, having constructed a small working model of a steam-engine.

The first contract on which he was practically engaged, under the superintendence of his father, who was for many years associated with the eminent contractor, Mr. M'Intosh, was the erection of the Black Rock Lighthouse, near Beaumaris, North Wales.

On the completion of this work, when only eighteen years old, he superintended the construction of the Dutton Viaduct, on the Liverpool and Birmingham railway, at first under Mr. George Stephenson, and afterwards under his successor, the late Mr. Joseph Locke, M.P., Past-President Inst. C.E. This was a work of considerable magnitude, executed at a time when the facilities in use at the present day for carrying out such an undertaking were unknown.

From this period to the close of his life Mr. Betts was continually engaged in various railway works, many of which were of a difficult character, requiring organization of no ordinary nature, but for which his talents were peculiarly adapted.

The Midland railway from Rugby to Leicester, the South-Eastern from Reigate to Dover, the line from Paddock Wood to Maidstone, and the North Wales mineral railway from Chester to Wrexham, followed in rapid succession.

In the year 1845 Mr. Betts entered into a contract for the first section of the Chester and Holyhead, and the [[Mold Railway|Chester and Mold railways[[. These works, together with the line through the island of Anglesea to Holyhead, were carried out under the direction of the late Mr. A. M. Hoss, who was associated with the late Mr. Robert Stephenson, Past-President Inst. C.E.

On the completion of the last-named contract E. Betts entered into partnership with Sir S. Morton Peto, Bart., and constructed the Great Northern loop line from Peterborough, through Boston, Lincoln, and Gainsborough, to Doncaster ; the East Lincolnshire railway from Boston to Louth; the Oxford and Birmingham; the Oxford, Worcester, and Wolverhampton; the Great Southern of Buenos Ayres; and the Dunaburg and Witepsk railway, in Russia; also the line from Algiers to Bledah, for the French Government, and many smaller works, including the Netherlands land drainage.

It was at the suggestion of Sir S. Morton Peto, during the war in the Crimea, that the English Government was induced to give an order for the construction of a railway from Balaclava to the camp, for the purpose of conveying material and ammunition for the siege of Sebastopol. Mr. Betts undertook the entire organization of this important enterprise, and with such energy, that in a few weeks from its commencement the line was in working order.

Many large and important works were executed by Messrs. Peto and Betts in connection with the late Mr. Brassey. The Grand Trunk Railway of Canada (including the Victoria Tubular Bridge across the River St. Lawrence at Montreal) may be mentioned as one of great magnitude.

The Jutland and North and South Schleswig railways, in Denmark; the Lyons and Avignon, in France; the Tilbury and Southend; the Hereford, Ross, and Gloucester ; the South London and Crystal Palace railways; the Victoria (London) Docks; the Thames Graving Docks ; and many other works, were successfully carried to completion, principally under Mr. Betts’ personal supervision. The firm of Peto and Betts, in partnership with Mr. Crampton, constructed the whole of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway, including two bridges across the Thames. Those only who are practically acquainted with the execution of large works, requiring constant and unremitting attention, can in any measure appreciate the amount of energy and mental labour expended by Mr. Betts on these various enterprises.

Mr. Betts was elected an Associate of the Institution of Civil Engineers the 26th of June, 1849.

In 1851 and l852 he filled the office of Chairman of the Eastern Counties Railway Company. This was a period of great anxiety to him, and a strike of the engine-drivers employed on the line added to the difficulties of the management. His vigour and determination were never more forcibly shown than on this occasion, when he not only completely suppressed the movement, and prevented it extending to other railways (as it was feared it might), but at the same time carried on the traffic with little interruption.

An accident, which affected his eyesight, compelled him to resign the position he had held with so much benefit to the company.

Mr. Betts married, in 1843, the youngest daughter of William Peto, of Cookham, Berks.

He was a magistrate and deputy-lieutenant for the county of Kent, and in 1858 served as high sheriff for that county. In the year 1865 he contested the representation of Maidstone in the Conservative interest. . . .



See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. A Biographical Dictionary of Civil Engineers in Great Britain and ..., Volume 1 edited by A. W. Skempton
  2. Reading Mercury - Saturday 08 July 1843
  3. 1851 Census
  4. 1861 Census
  5. London Gazette 10 July 1868
  6. 1873 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries