William James, British railway pioneer, c 1800.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraved portrait by W Roffe after a miniature by Chalon. In 1821, James (1771-1837) met George Stephenson (1781-1848). The two men agreed to build a railway between Liverpool and Hull, but were unable to carry out the project. In 1822 James produced a report proposing a railway between Liverpool and Manchester, gaining support from the merchant, Joseph Sandars. However, the following year James was declared bankrupt and imprisoned. Sandars and Stephenson went on to build the railway without him.