An historical geography of the British quarrying industry, c.1850-1950
This thesis presents an historical geography of the British quarrying industry, c.1850-
c.1950. During this time of significant spatial and structural change in British industry,
the quarrying industry was important as an industry which achieved a dramatically
increased level and value of output, was an important employer, and was highly
significant in terms of supplying the raw materials required for industrialisation and
urbanisation. Despite this, there is no existing account of overall spatial and structural
change in this industrial sector for this period. The literature on this period comprises
only isolated case studies of particular quarrying industries or firms.
This thesis thus makes a contribution to knowledge in three key areas. First, it
undertakes a description and evaluation of the sources available for the study of the
quarrying industry. In particular it focuses on the neglected official statistics of the
quarrying industry, outlining their nature and limitations and illustrating how they offer
a unique insight into an industrial sector in this period, providing as they do, a
systematic record of change at the county ani national level from 1895-1948.
Second, after outlining the nature of the quarrying industry in the mid-nineteenth
century, the thesis uses these statistics to present an analysis of change in the key
characteristics of the industry, i.e. level and value of output, labour, number of firms
and quarries between 1895-1948. The overall pattern for the quarrying industry is one
of a dramatically increasing level and value of output, but a decrease in labour, firms
and quarries. Thus the national picture is one of rationalisation to increase output,
particularly rnsociated with mechanisation and the amalgamation of firms.
Third, for the period 1895-1948 an analysis is presented of the spatial location of quarry
production, and of the spatial variation in structural change within the industry, i.e. in
output, employment and number of firms and quarries. This allows the identification of
the spatial dynamics of change in the industry. A complex picture is revealed of how
the dramatic increase in output was achieved by different regional dynamics, with
spatial variation in the restructuring oflabour, number of firms and quarries.