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"This is the place for toil": Neighbourhoods at work in the later Victorian Black Country

Cort, Larry Edward; (2001) "This is the place for toil": Neighbourhoods at work in the later Victorian Black Country. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Work and the places where work was performed were fundamental components of the cultural and morphological traditions of nineteenth century English towns and cities. However, while considerable attention has been directed to work as a significant occupier of time, the role of the workplace as an occupier of physical and social space is less well known. This thesis seeks to explain how differing urban geographies of work placed distinctive demands on both space and time in local neighbourhoods. The focus is the industrial workplace itself: as an enduring and recognisable feature of the local landscape; as a place where livings were made within a complex social and market context; and as a neighbour to labour and part of a negotiated industrial culture. Industrialisation is shown to be at once an agent of geographical change and a beneficiary of customary, home grown forms of work and workplace. This study looks specifically at two Black Country towns - Walsall and West Bromwich - to illustrate how the mantle of industrialisation was shouldered largely through a process of adapting to prevailing customs of work. Through a focused examination of a single neighbourhood in each town, using institutional, business, newspaper, photographic and physical evidence, it is demonstrated that local manifestations of industrial capitalism were indeed quite diverse, even in a region commonly interpreted by contemporaries as exhibiting an encompassing level of blackness. Sometimes striking levels of differentiation between the two neighbourhoods are examined in successive chapters on the form and design of workplaces, the organisation and experience of labour, the perception of working spaces held by neighbours and the extent to which work cultures extended beyond the factory. In the end, the conclusions of the thesis challenge several accepted notions of modernity within nineteenth century regional centres, arguing that the role of capital in rationalising an industrial landscape was neither universally applied nor universally destructive.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: "This is the place for toil": Neighbourhoods at work in the later Victorian Black Country
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Social sciences; Industrialization
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10100175
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