Sir Edward William Watkin (September 26, 1819 – April 13, 1901) was an MP, railway entrepreneur and visionary – although not all his ideas worked. In 1881 Wembley Park estate, north-east of the original hamlet, was sold. Part of it was acquired by the Metropolitan Railway Company and eight years later Sir Edward, chairman of the board, acquired 280 acres of it. His idea was to create London’s greatest pleasure ground, overlooked by a structure which was to surpass the Eiffel Tower. The Metropolitan Railway opened a station at Wembley Park on the line from Baker Street in 1894 and the pleasure grounds were opened in 1896. However the Metropolitan Tower Construction Company’s plans had gone awry, drainage had proved difficult and the tower had reached only 200 feet when funds ran out. Within two years the Tower company went into liquidation and the property was taken over by the Wembley Park Estate Company Ltd. The first stage of the tower survived as Watkin’s Folly until it was dismantled in 1907. It wasn’t his first failure in business, in 1880 he was behind a failed attempt to dig a tunnel under the English Channel to connect his railway empire to the French rail network.
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