Bakerloo Line Collapse: Whitaker Wright, Suicide And The Brown Line's Fascinating History

Posted: 26/04/2012 10:26 Updated: 26/04/2012 10:27

The Bakerloo Line was rumoured to have been built to service the needs of a few London businessmen who needed to get to Lord's Cricket ground in super-fast time.

While this has never been confirmed, the famous route (which is coloured brown on Harry Beck's iconic tube map) has a dark history.

The idea for the line came about in 1865 to run between Waterloo and Great Scotland Yard.

It might sound crazy now, but it was proposed to be a pneumatic railway - which means the rolling stock would be fired through tunnel by air pressure!

Work on the line started in June 1898 and was bank-rolled by shady mining entrepreneur Whitaker Wright. Mr Wright, is turned out, was Mr Wrong.

Described as a swindler who indulged in sharp practices, Wright dodged his way through life until his dubious financial operations caught up with him.

According to Wikipedia:

On 26 January 1904, Wright was convicted of fraud at the Royal Courts of Justice and given a seven year prison sentence. He committed suicide by swallowing cyanide in a court anteroom immediately afterward.

The inquest also revealed that he had been carrying a revolver in his pocket, presumably as a backup: he was never searched as the security was weaker at the Royal Courts, which were of course Civil Courts, the trial being held there as it was deemed likelier that the special jury required would be less prejudiced against the accused than a normal jury at the Old Bailey criminal court, which was in the City.

In spite of his financial errors, there was a great outburst of grief at his funeral at Witley where he is buried.

FOLLOW UK

Filed by Stephen Hull  |