It was founded as a construction business in the 1840s but switched to publishing in the 1920s. It is the largest education company and was once the largest book publisher in the world. In 2013 Pearson merged its Penguin Books with German conglomerate Bertelsmann. In 2015 the company announced a change to focus solely on education. Pearson has a primary listing on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. It has a secondary listing on the New York Stock Exchange in the form of American depositary receipts.
The company was founded by Samuel Pearson in 1844 as a building and engineering concern operating in Yorkshire under the name S. Pearson & Son. In 1880, control passed to his grandson Weetman Dickinson Pearson , an engineer, who in 1890 moved the business to London and turned it into one of the world's largest construction companies. Another of its prominent engineers was Ernest William Moir who, after working for Pearson on tunnels in New York City, became the contractor's agent on construction of the Blackwall Tunnel under the River Thames in London between 1892 and 1897. The company also built the Admiralty Harbour at Dover, the Halifax Dry Dock in Canada, the East River Railway Tunnels in New York City, the Mexican Grand Canal that drained Mexico City, the Tehuantepec Railway in Mexico, and railways and harbours around the world. In November 1915, the firm began construction of HM Factory, Gretna, the largest cordite factory in the UK during World War I. In 1907 Weetman Pearson founded inventment company Whitehall Securities Corporation Ltd which played an important role in the development of British airlines in the 1930s.
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