The country house which links a private Yorkshire school to an exiled 19th century Railyway King

Author Robert Beaumont with  Queen Mary's pupils.  Left to right: Headgirl, Lillia Schiable, Frederica Crouch, and Imogen Patrick. Photo: Mike Cowling
Author Robert Beaumont with Queen Mary's pupils. Left to right: Headgirl, Lillia Schiable, Frederica Crouch, and Imogen Patrick. Photo: Mike Cowling
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A MAN WHO was expelled from school and his village before becoming an exiled bankrupt does not sound like an ideal role model for school pupils.

But the fascinating life of the Railway King, George Hudson, has particular significance for students at Queen Mary’s School near Thirsk.

The independent school’s base in the Grade I listed Palladian country house at Baldersby Park was once the favourite home of the 19th century entrepreneur who helped create Britain’s modern railway network, and became one of the richest men of his time before losing it all.

Baldersby Park is featured in the current BBC TV series, “Railways: The Making of a Nation”. Presenter Liz McIvor is filmed being shown round the school by Hudson’s biographer and local historian, Robert Beaumont. He has now shared his experiences of working with the film crew in a talk to pupils, parents and staff, bringing to life the Railway King’s career and the relevance of the school.

Mr Beaumont said: “Baldersby Park was George Hudson’s much loved home; it was his favourite. He lived there for almost ten years between 1845 and 1854 and although he owned other properties, he loved it the most and took refuge there when his career collapsed. It broke his heart when everything went wrong for him and he had to sell it in 1854.”

Hudson was a farmer’s son from Howsham near York and as a 15 year old, was expelled from school.

Despite that, he rose to fame as the railways caught the nation’s interest and he became the richest man of his time.

Carole Cameron, Head of Queen Mary’s said: “George Hudson is a major character in our industrial history and is incredibly interesting on many levels, particularly his links

with Baldersby Park.

“His life shows how you can overcome humble beginnings, that Yorkshire grit and focus can achieve great things, but that honesty and integrity really matter.”

“On a personal level, he was very much a family man, with three sons and a daughter, and the value of a strong family community is something which underpins the

ethos of Queen Mary’s today.”

Hudson moved in the highest circles counting Prince Albert and the Duke of Wellington amongst his friends before his career collapsed, he was branded a fraudster and fled to

France.

His life is captured in Robert’s biography – “The Railway King: A Biography of George Hudson” which is published by Hodder Headline.