James C. Russell

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James Cholmeley Russell (1841-1912) was a London-born barrister, expert on family law, financier, property developer and Welsh railway entrepreneur. He was a key shareholder of the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways Company, and he became a Director in 1877. The Company had acquired its rolling stock on the 'deferred purchase system' over three, five, and seven years, but in November 1876, April and October 1878 Russell had agreements with the railway company for the hire from him of some of it. By September 1878, because of the financial position, the Company had fallen behind with its quarterly rentals. [1]

A Company called the Moel Tryfan Rolling Stock Co. Ltd., which Russell had a controlling interest in, was set up in December 1878 to buy from him 3 Locomotives, 3 Carriages and 4 Wagons in use on the railway for £3,630. The Board of Trade returns show another 5 carriages and 116 wagons, all of which were hired. At the same time Russell assigned to MTRS a debt of £882.10.7 + costs of £4.6.0 owing to him by the NWNGR on which he had obtained judgment in November. The MTRS petitioned the Court, claiming that the Company was in no position to pay and had no uncalled capital by which payment might be made, and to have a receiver appointed. The Court appointed Russell on 13 December at no salary. Russell became Chairman of the NWNGR in 1879, representative of the 'B' Debenture Stockholders in September 1888 after R.S. Guinness resigned, and later Managing Director. The outstanding hire fees and purchase of the rolling stock were settled with an issue of at £6,000 'A' Debentures in 1880 under a scheme of arrangement agreed with creditors.

Meanwhile in 1879, Russell had purchased a significant shareholding in the Portmadoc, Croesor and Beddgelert Tramway Company which took over ownership of the Croesor Tramway.[2] This was part of Russell's dream to connect the NWNGR to Porthmadog.

In March 1889 Ernest E. Lake obtained a judgment for debt of £788.14.7 plus £5.6.0 costs against the railway company. He and Henry Gibbins, Secretary of the MTRS (who had had Receiver appointed 10 years earlier), argued in an Affidavit that in the circumstances, a Manager be appointed. The Court ordered that Russell become Manager on 23 March, in addition to his existing role as Receiver. The debt was never paid.

Russell was also Receiver and Manager of the Manchester & Milford Railway from 1880 to 1904.[3]

His name was given to the Hunslet-built steam locomotive Russell, purchased by the North Wales Power and Traction Co. Ltd for the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railway in 1906

Russell died on 29 August 1912 and is buried beneath a Celtic cross in the parish churchyard at Merrow, Guildford.[4]


  1. ^ Report of half-year meeting in Manchester Guardian as quoted in Johnson, Peter (2002). An Illustrated History of the Welsh Highland Railway. Hersham: Oxford Publishing Co. ISBN 0-860935-65-5. OCLC 59498388.
  2. ^ "Beddgelert Light Railway". The North Wales Express. 30 September 1898.
  3. ^ Holden, J S (2007). The Manchester & Milford Railway (Second revised ed.). Oakwood Press.
  4. ^ "Anniversaries", Welsh Highland Heritage, Issue 57 (September 2012)

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