The Church of St Wilfrid, near my home in Northenden contains a memorial to 19th-century railway chairman Sir Edward Watkin, born in Salford, Lancashire on 26 September 1819. He was the son of wealthy cotton merchant Absalom Watkin, famous for his involvement in the Anti-corn Law League and a key figure in passing the Reform Act 1832.
Edward Watkin became a Member of Parliament and railway entrepreneur who founded the Channel Tunnel Company. A visionary of his time, he was responsible for the expansion of the Metropolitan Railway, part of today's London Underground network and the construction of the Great Central Main Line, the UK’s first purpose-built high-speed railway line. He was also the first to contemplate a channel tunnel connecting the UK rail network to France, although he failed in his attempt to get the project going.
The High Speed 2 line will pass underneath Northenden just metres from where he is buried. I think he would approve if he were alive today!