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Industrialisation and de-industrialisation: England divides

Jones, Eric (2011): Industrialisation and de-industrialisation: England divides.

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National averages conceal powerful interactions underlying English economic development in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The simplest operational divisions are north, south and London. Initially industry and business culture predominated in the south but this culture was seduced by the gentry lifestyle and entrepreneurship redirected towards producing food and transporting it to London. The twin attractions of landed society and the London food market caused manufacturing to atrophy: the south deindustrialised. In the north a business culture expanded, capital having come into the hands of small farmers in Lancashire and Cheshire during the sixteenth-century rise in food prices. Entrepreneurship and skills were also fostered by religious independence, accompanied by only limited conspicuous consumption. Four main industries developed: metal working (especially clock- and watchmaking), cheese making, salt production and cotton manufacturing. But the mechanisation of cotton lagged because it was unacceptable to throw large numbers of hand spinners out of work. The technical challenge was minor compared with clock- and watchmaking, from which skills were borrowed by cotton manufacturers once demand began to expand fast.

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