John Ellis, MP and railway chairman, c 1850s.
© NRM / Pictorial Collection / Science & Society Picture Library
Oil painting of John Ellis (1789-1862), Quaker and liberal reformer, who was chairman of the Leicester & Swannington Railway and Midland Railway, and Member of Parliament for Leicester (1848-1852). Ellis instigated the first steam railway in Leicestershire after hen coal was discovered in the northwest. He asked George Stephenson (1781-1848) to design a line between Swannington and Leicester which opened in July 1832. Leicester prospered from this cheap new method of transporting coal. Ellis was also behind the Midland Counties Railway pasenger line which opened in 1840.