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British Industrial History

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Grissell and Peto

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Grissell and Peto (1830-1847) were, for many years, one of the largest building and contractors’ businesses in Britain. They executed many important buildings, including Hungerford Market, the Reform, Conservative, and Oxford and Cambridge Club-houses, the Lyceum, St. James’s, and Olympic Theatres, Nelson's Column, all the Great Western Railway works between Hanwell and Langley (including the Hanwell Viaduct, but excluding the embankment), a large part of the South Eastern Railway, and the Woolwich Graving Dock.

1830 On the death of Henry Peto, his nephew Thomas Grissell was joined in business by another of Peto's nephews, Samuel Morton Peto.

1834 Peto saw the potential of the newly developing railways and dissolved the connection with his uncle's building firm. He and his cousin Grissell founded a business as an independent railway contractor. His firm's first railway work was to build two stations in Curzon Street, Birmingham.

Next the firm built its first line of track, the Hanwell and Langley section of the Great Western Railway, which included the Wharncliffe Viaduct

Grissell and Peto constructed the Eastern Counties Railway between Ely and Cambridge; their agent for part of this was A. T. Andrews, brother of Charles Andrews.

Their most notable work was on the new Houses of Parliament for which they won several contracts, including the foundations, between 1839 and 1850, the work supervised entirely by Grissell, and from 1846 in his sole name.

1843 Built Nelson's Column

Grissell became increasingly nervous of the risks taken by Peto.

1847 Morton Peto became Member of Parliament for Norwich, and the business partnership was dissolved. Thomas Grissell retained the building contracts, including the contract for the Houses of Parliament, and Peto kept the railway contracts.

1848 Built the Bloomsbury Baptist Chapel, the first Baptist church with spires in London.

Late 1840s: Samuel Morton Peto entered into partnership with Edward Ladd Betts as Peto and Betts

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