The experience of peripheral regions in an age of industrialisation : the case of Devon, 1840-1914
This thesis addresses the unresolved question of whether industrialisation helps or hinders progress in the peripheral regions of developing economies. Devon is seen as a 'sample of space' within which the breaking down of regional identities by changes in the Victorian transport infrastructure can be monitored. As the county's fortunes were thus primarily dependent upon the course of development in the wider national economy the survey of changes in economic activity within Devon is concerned mainly with relating internal adjustments to external pressures and opportunities. The balance of these appears to have resulted in a demand 'leakage* from the county's economy, and a net outwards flow of migrants, for there was a chronic deficit in Devon's balance of payments with the rest of Britain. This was probably exacerbated by an outflow of capital. But the relative contraction of employment within the county took a selective form in accordance with the developing specialisation of activity across the' national economic space. On the evidence of comparative wages in agriculture it seems that direct external demand was of central importance to the elimination of spatial differentials after 1870. But for the county as a whole there was no narrowing of the large shortfall between local wages and the national average before 1914. Sectors that benefited from external demand were few in number and their linkages with the rest of Devon's economy were too weak to stimulate general growth in the county, and the relatively unchanging distribution of demand throughout the nation that this refle-cted helped to maintain residual regional barriers to internal adjustment. The British economy was mature enough to pull the least developed regions away from pre-industrial levels of poverty but there was no inherent tendency to eliminate the broad tail which lagged behind the cutting edge of industrialisation.