William James and Joseph Sandars were two business partners who took the first serious steps to build the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. William James was a lawyer and land agent and Joseph Sandars was a corn merchant. In 1822, James surveyed a possible route, which was similar to the one actually chosen. Inevitably there was opposition from canal companies, landowners and turnpike trusts, and these difficulties were compounded in 1823 when James went bankrupt.
"At Manchester the subject of the railway encourages all men's thoughts. The canal companies are alive to the danger. I am the object of their persecution and hate;they would immolate me if they could."