Metropolitan Railway takeover of the Aylesbury and Buckingham Railway
In 1837 Euston railway station opened, the first railway station connecting London with the industrial heartlands of the West Midlands and Lancashire. Railways were banned by a Parliamentary commission from operating in London itself, and thus the station was built on what was then the northern boundary of the built-up area. Other main line termini soon followed at Paddington (1838), Bishopsgate (1840), Fenchurch Street (1841), King's Cross (1852) and St Pancras (1868). All were built outside the built-up area, making them inconvenient to reach.[note 5]
Charles Pearson (1793–1862) had proposed the idea of an underground railway connecting the City of London with the relatively distant main-line termini in around 1840. Construction began in 1860. On 9 January 1863 the line opened as the Metropolitan Railway (MR), the world's first underground passenger railway. The MR was successful and grew steadily, extending its services and acquiring other local railways north and west of London. In 1872 Edward Watkin (1819–1901) was appointed its Chairman. A director of many railway companies, he had a vision of unifying a string of railways to create a single line from Manchester via London to an intended Channel Tunnel and on to France. In 1873 Watkin entered negotiations to take control of the A&B and the section of the former Buckinghamshire Railway north from Verney Junction to Buckingham. He planned to extend the MR north from London to Aylesbury and the Tramway southwest to Oxford, creating a through route from London to Oxford. Rail services between Oxford and London at this time were poor: although still an extremely roundabout route, this scheme would have formed the shortest route from London to Oxford, Aylesbury, Buckingham and Stratford upon Avon. The Duke of Buckingham was enthusiastic, and authorisation was sought from Parliament. Parliament did not share the enthusiasm of Watkin and the Duke, and in 1875 the Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire Union Railway Bill was rejected. Watkin did, however, receive consent in 1881 to extend the MR to Aylesbury.