Pearson failed to find any funding for his plans; however, the Bayswater, Paddington and Holborn Bridge Railway Company had more success. Founded in 1853, its directors secured funding from the Great Western Railway (GWR) and acquired the City Terminus Company. Later that year they received the approval of a Royal Commission for their plan, resulting in the passage of an Act of Parliament in the following year.
This act authorised the construction of an underground railway between Praed Street in Paddington (near the GWR’s London terminus) and Farringdon in the City of London, to be known as the Metropolitan Railway. Although not a director of the new company, Pearson continued to promote the scheme, even managing to secure some £200,000 funding for the railway from the City of London Corporation. In February 1860 construction work finally began.
The work did not go smoothly: the cut-and-cover method favoured of tunnel construction by the chief engineer, John Fowler, involved digging up the streets that the line would follow causing a great deal of traffic congestion. At one point the Fleet Sewer burst filling the recently dug tunnels with London’s effluence. Nevertheless, the work was completed in less than three years.
On 10th January 1863, the world’s first underground railway opened to the public. On the previous day, the directors of the company travelled with several hundred invited guests in two trains from Paddington to Farringdon Street station where they had an elegant lunch. The line proved to be a great success with an average of over 25,000 passengers using the railway each day, but sadly Pearson was not one of them as he had died in September of the previous year.
You can read the Guardian’s account of the Opening of the Metropolitan Railway to the public on the newspaper’s website.