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North East England, 1850-1914

North East England, 1850-1914: The Dynamics of a Maritime-Industrial Region

Graeme J. Milne
Volume: 4
Copyright Date: 2006
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    North East England, 1850-1914
    Book Description:

    The North East produced coal, iron, steel and ships on an unprecedented scale in the decades before the Great War, a time at which it acquired its persistent image as one of the world's great export-driven industrial districts. However, the North East was far from being a single and unified region, and its constituent towns and rivers often worked in fierce competition with one another. This book examines these tensions from a variety of perspectives, building a new picture of a place that seemed so uniform from the outside, while maintaining an intense localist particularism in its politics, institutions and economy. The development of the coalfield and the riparian manufacturing districts moulded new industrial landscapes; the growth of ports and conurbations demanded innovative approaches to government and administration; and the business strategies of North East entrepreneurs challenged conventional boundaries. The author concludes that riverside districts, on the Tyne, Tees and Wear, represented more viable working horizons than any 'regional' North East in this era, and raises important questions about the study of the English regions in their historical context. Dr GRAEME J. MILNE is a Researcher at the University of Liverpool.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-494-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-ix)
  5. [Map]
    (pp. x-x)
  6. 1 The North East in time and space
    (pp. 1-15)

    These words were written by William Clark Russell, a Victorian mariner turned writer who knew something about living on edges, geographically as well as socially. Russell’s Tyneside was just such a place on the margin, oriented toward shipping and maritime trade, sometimes seeming only vaguely connected to the land-based nation-state behind it, and the subject of much metropolitan ignorance and condescension. Being peripheral and being different are common themes in studies of the North East more generally, whether approached from a historical perspective or from those of the social sciences in assessing more contemporary policy issues. At the time of...

  7. 2 Horizons: Ports, trade and mobility
    (pp. 16-50)

    The British liked to see themselves at the hub of a shrinking and increasingly interconnected world in the later nineteenth century, and one that was being created by their own technical and scientific prowess. In 1881, Joseph Cowen, a radical Tyneside newspaper proprietor, claimed that ‘the city of Chicago now is as near Newcastle, for commercial purposes, as the city of York was one hundred years ago’. Cowen was speaking at an event celebrating the life of the engineer George Stephenson, and thinking, as he often did, with one eye on his local roots and another on wider horizons. Cowen’s...

  8. 3 Hinterlands and industrial districts
    (pp. 51-79)

    Ports are Janus-faced, looking outward to the wider maritime forelands that were the subject of Chapter 2, and also back into their hinterlands. In the North East, those hinterlands were complicated spaces, comprising the sprawling coalfield and a range of commodity-trading networks and manufacturing centres, and pulled together by an extensive railway network. Most strikingly from the external perspective, the hinterlands of the various North East ports encompassed one of England’s most distinctive industrial areas – by the later nineteenth century this had become the great stereotype of a coal, shipping and heavy-metal industrial district, standing in contrast not only to...

  9. 4 Making and managing the maritime landscape
    (pp. 80-110)

    Most economic history textbooks emphasise that being close to water was a fundamental element in industrialisation. Water was a raw material in many processes, and it was a source of power for machines. More generally, water transport was, and remains, the only economic method of carrying bulk commodities over long distances. Being close to water, however, is not the same thing as being close to useable water, especially in the transport sense. The textbooks are less forthcoming on the enormous technical, financial and political effort needed to turn shallow rivers and exposed coastlines into ports and transport arteries capable of...

  10. 5 Cohesion and diversity in the maritime urban system
    (pp. 111-138)

    J. B. Priestley called the Thames ‘London’s broadest street’.¹ This provokes a number of thoughts about the relationship between waterways and towns, which go well beyond the constitutional and jurisdictional concerns of town councils introduced in Chapter 4. Having navigable water in the centre of a town has historically offered lucrative long-distance connections but also posed short-distance challenges, and maritime towns have found themselves both liberated and limited as a result. Streets made from water are obviously harder to cross than those made of earth, and the urban spaces on either side of them face difficulties in forming a united...

  11. 6 The horizons of North East shipowning
    (pp. 139-168)

    This book has stressed the division of the North East’s economic and administrative landscapes into riparian and urban spaces, which were themselves arenas in which local interests contested the direction of policy and practice. Many of those interests were business-oriented, either in the shape of individual firms, or of firms grouped in industrial sectors; the task of this chapter and the one that follows is to assess these business-level interactions as part of the wider interplay of forces at work in moulding the North East. The firm is an important actor in any market economy, and, along with its creator,...

  12. 7 Business and the maritime-industrial complex
    (pp. 169-202)

    The investing horizons of shipping firms are an important indicator of the boundaries of North East business in the later nineteenth century, but shipping was just one part of a much larger industrial complex. As was noted in Chapter 3, the Victorians were fond of proclaiming the interconnection of the North East’s industries, with coal and iron mining being vital for iron and steel making, which was vital for shipbuilding, which supplied a flourishing shipowning sector, and so on.¹ An integrated industrial system, however, is not necessarily the same thing as an integrated business system, because individual firms and companies...

  13. 8 Conclusion
    (pp. 203-207)

    A common popular art-form of the later nineteenth century was the aerial, bird’s-eye view employed by early marketing men and civic boosters to offer a clear, accessible perspective on towns, factories and districts, and one that down-played boundaries on the ground. From such angles, the North East that emerges from this book had many regional characteristics. Its maritime orientation was striking, with much of its economic activity being directed toward river and coastal ports from the Tees to Blyth. The combined hinterlands of the North East ports – the coalfield, the industrial zone and, to a large degree, the North Eastern...

  14. Sources and bibliography
    (pp. 208-224)
  15. Index
    (pp. 225-230)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 231-231)