Economic and social change in Wensleydale and Swaledale in the nineteenth century

Hallas, Christine Sarah (1988). Economic and social change in Wensleydale and Swaledale in the nineteenth century. PhD thesis The Open University.



Although rural areas share certain common characteristic's, individual districts and their communities exhibit many important differences. This study provides a detailed analysis of economic and social change in the nineteenth century in a specific rural upland area in the north Yorkshire Pennines. It is intended both to add to r the limited body of detailed knowledge which already exists in respect of rural, and specifically upland rural, areas and to test generalizations concerning the economic and social structure of such areas against the individual experience of Wensleydale and Swaledale.

The major industries of the two dales in the nineteenth century, agriculture, mining, and textiles, formed the basis of the economy of many upland areas. The development and relative importance of these industries within Wensleydale and Swaledale is closely examined and compared with other areas in order to identify the uniqueness or otherwise of the extent and direction of change within the dales. The influence of local and non-local factors on the demise of two of these industries in the nineteenth century and on the structural changes in the third is also studied.

The survival of upland areas in an increasingly industrialized and competitive society was constrained by inaccessibility. The extent to which road and rail transport assisted the two dales to overcome the problems of isolation is, therefore, examined.

Although the present work is an economic and social study, it concerns itself primarily with economic change since a healthy economy was essential for the maintenance of a viable local community. The social condition of the community is studied in the context of its response to the rapidly changing economy in the nineteenth century. In particular, a detailed analysis is undertaken of the extent to which population growth and decline, and attendant migration, affected the well-being of the local community.

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