The Industrial Development of South Wales, 1750-1850: An Essay

The Industrial Development of South Wales, 1750-1850: An Essay

The Industrial Development of South Wales, 1750-1850: An Essay

The Industrial Development of South Wales, 1750-1850: An Essay

Excerpt

The greater part of this book was written during the tenure of the Rhondda Research Studentship at Gonville and Caiu's College, Cambridge, from 1936 to 1939, and I acknowledge with gratitude the opportunity for research thus provided me by the Master and Fellows of that College. The work was then intended as a short study, preparatory to a more detailed examination of the industrial development of the coalfield. Military service, and subsequent administrative work, prevented this larger undertaking and it was decided to publish the essay more or less in its original form.

The economic history of South Wales, especially in the 18th century, is essentially a matter of primary records, for contemporary printed matter is extremely sparse and much of it is also unreliable. The Public Record Office, the various provincial libraries, especially the National Library of Wales and the estate archives have been the chief sources from which documents have been obtained. The latter were particularly fruitful and an extensive use of them would reveal important evidence, not only on economic but also on the wider problems, of the social life of the area. In the 19th century, especially from the second quarter onwards, the printed matter increases, and use has been made of the local newspapers, the accounts of travellers, and the great Parliamentary Papers of that period. For the chapter on technique, the early technical literature in the Patent Office Library has been used.

In dealing with the more elusive aspects of economic development, such as the financing of industry, it is inevitable that evidence would not be as comprehensive as could be desired. Complete business records are rarely found, and it would be dangerous to generalise from the few which exist. Frequently, the existence of the small concerns is only recorded by an expired lease in an estate office, and their struggles deduced from obiter dicta contained in a pile of dusty letters referring to such technical matters as quarterly royalty accounts.

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