Thorold Road, IG1

Place name

Reverend James Edwin Thorold Rogers (March 23, 1823 – October 14, 1890) was a political economist, liberal MP, and, in 1870, the first man to legally withdraw from his clerical vows. But it was because of his association with crooked businessman Jabez Spencer Balfour that this street was named after him. Rogers was chairman of the National Liberal Land Company (NLLC) one of a network of interlocking companies set up by Balfour to inflate the price of his own assets. Balfour was using money from savers of the Liberator Building Society, of which he was the head, to buy up land which in turn he sold to his own companies. In September 1882 his Lands Allotment Company bought Ilford Lodge Estate for £52,000 but sold it a few months later for £60,000 to the House and Lands Investment Trust… which was also owned by him. This in turn was sold for £74,000 to JW Hobbs and Co, the builders who would lay out the roads and build the houses, and another of Balfour’s interlocking companies. This scam went on for years all the while amassing combined debts of £7m, the equivalent of nearly half a billion pounds today, until eventually, in 1892, the entire edifice crashed. Balfour fled to Argentina to escape justice, where he was joined by his mistress and her sister (his wife having been confined to a mental hospital). With no extradition treaty, Balfour considered himself safe but after 13 months on the run he was arrested and smuggled out of South America to stand trial. In November 1895 he was sent down for 14 years, of which he served 11, sewing mailbags in a variety of prisons including Wormwood Scrubs, Parkhurst and Portland. He died in August 1915, aged 71. Rogers appeared to escape the scandal largely on account of the fact he died before it broke. An Ordnance Survey Map published in 1896 shows Thorold Road starting to be laid out. It was first named and partly occupied by 1890. This is one of a number of local roads connected with Balfour and his companies.

 

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