Great Marlow 1835-1891, the Impact of the Railways and Industrialisation

Baxter, Adam (2019). Great Marlow 1835-1891, the Impact of the Railways and Industrialisation. Student dissertation for The Open University module A826 MA History part 2.

This dissertation was produced by a student studying the Open University postgraduate module A826 MA History part 2. The research showcased here achieved a distinction.
Please note that this student dissertation is made available in the format that it was submitted for examination, thus the author has not been able to correct errors and/or departures from academic standards in areas such as referencing.
Copyright resides with the author.


In the early 1830s Great Marlow was one of the larger ports on the River Thames which linked London to the Midlands and Bristol via the canal networks at Oxford and the Avon and Kennet canal. The arrival of the Great Western Railway in nearby Maidenhead in 1838 led to a significant reduction in commercial traffic on the Thames and the almost immediate collapse of the stagecoach route between Hatfield and Reading which passed through Great Marlow. This reduction in commercial traffic on the river eventually caused the collapse of the Thames Navigation and created a crisis in the management of the river which led to the setting up of the Thames Conservancy in the 1860s. The primary use of the river gradually changed from commercial transport to leisure. After a prolonged campaign, the local people provided funding to build a branch line, known as the Great Marlow Railway, to the edge of the town in 1873. Apart from brewing and paper making there was very little manufacturing in the town and the craft industries which were practised suffered from increasing mechanisation elsewhere in England. As a result the population of Great Marlow stagnated between 1841 and 1871 and only started to grow again after the construction of the Great Marlow Railway increased leisure visitors and encouraged the building of new homes which attracted more affluent residents. An analysis of census returns for the years 1851 to 1891 identifies how the railways and mechanisation impacted on the geographical origins and social mix of those living in the town and caused changes in employment patterns. The premise of this dissertation is that while industrialisation and the railways led to a boom in much of England their adverse effect on craft industries and other forms of transportation caused the stagnation and relative decline in areas they bypassed. In the case of Great Marlow it was only after the Great Marlow Railway was built that the town began to recover and grow.

Viewing alternatives

Download history

Item Actions