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HETT, MAYLOR & COMPANY LIMITED

Hett, Maylor & Co. Ltd. was formed on 4th February 1885 with £250,000 capital with the intention of the construction of railways.

The first investors of the company were:

NameDeclared professionNumber
of shares
1885
Number
of shares
1890
David Cooper ScoutBusinessman200302
Edmund Sykes HettBusinessman200303
Henry Herbert HettBusinessman100100
Frederick John YarrowBusinessman100100
Thomas Alexander YarrowBusinessman5050
Thomas Nicoll LeightonBusinessman5050
John MaylorEngineer2020
Alfred Fernandez YarrowEngineer2020
Robert MercerEngineer2050
Jeffrey Inglis LeightonBusinessman55

On the 27th September 1887 Hett, Maylor signed a contract with The GSSR for £2,089,184 on completion. The GSSR and Hett, Maylor were closely knit, with the Hett family being spread as directors between the two companies.

Hett, Maylor had other projects other than The GSSR, for example, the Manila to Dagupán Railway (260Km). The company sub-contracted most of the work to smaller companies as well as to The Marquis of Loring who had built railways in Spain, notably the first railway in Andalusia, the line between Malaga and Cordova (133Km), which was finished on the 15th August 1865.

Initially, all went well with the construction of The GSSR but the project was hopelessly undercapitalized with a gross underestimation of the difficulties the constructors would face with the mountainous nature of the route. This can easily be seen by looking at the 139 bridges and tunnels between Guadix and Murcia. Additionally, in the agreement there was also the section between Granada and Guadix including three large bridges in that section.

So, in just under three short years, The Hett, Maylor Company Limited went from inauguration to bankruptcy, leaving a myriad of problems for The GSSR. As stated in Don Gaunt's book "Almería and The Great Southern of Spain Railway (The GSSR)" the problems were:

"- Underestimating the difficulty of construction. The terrain in that part of Spain is very difficult and parts of the line consisted solely of cuttings, embankments and tunnels.

- Working for a fixed payment.

- Employing crafty subcontractors. For example, Loring constructed buildings out of cheaper material than he should have.

- A lack of understanding of Spanish law - and how to get round it."

All of this is true, but the greatest cause was the fact that the project was spectacularly undercapitalized. The total sum agreed would translate to approximately £220,000,000, which would go nowhere nowadays, HS2 being a classic example. It is probable that Edmund Sykes Hett became caught up in 'Railway Fever' and was carried away with the enthusiasm of railway builders of the time. They didn't even get half way, it being left to two other companies (The Granada Railway and La Compañía de los Caminos de Hierro del Sur de España) to finish the work, meaning that the concession to build a railway between Murcia and Granada became a railway between Lorca and Baza with the branch line to Águilas. The Baza to Granada section included five tunnels, a 325 metre viaduct and two iron bridges as well as many cuttings and embankments.

It is interesting that Edmund Sykes Hett increased his shares from 200 in 1885 to 300 in 1890 (when Hett, Maylor declared bankruptcy). He must have known which way the wind was blowing. Was he trying to shore up the company?



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