In the 1830s several companies were formed with the intention of building railways in the Midlands. This included the Midland Counties (Nottingham to Derby) North Midland Railway (Derby to Leeds), York & North Midland (York to Newcastle-upon-Tyne) and Birmingham & Derby.
The chairman of the York & North Midland, was George Hudson. In 1844 Hudson arranged for his own company to amalgamate with Midland Counties, North Midland Railway and the Birmingham & Derby. Hudson became chairman and leading shareowner of what was now known as the Midland Railway. This was the first large scale amalgamation of several small railway companies into one large company.
In 1845 George Hudson added the Birmingham & Gloucester and the Bristol & Gloucester to the Midland Company. Hudson's companies now controlled 1,016 miles of railway track and he obtained the title, the Railway King. A survey that year revealed that Hudson had £319,835 invested in railway shares.