Rural production in transition : three parishes around Coleorton Moor, north-west Leicestershire, c. 1650-1850
This thesis is concerned with the progressive commercialisation of rural production between 1650 and 1850. Its context is mainly, but not exclusively, three parishes in north-west Leicestershire. Together they surround Coleorton Moor. One of them, Whitwick, also bordered Charnwood Forest. The parishes nurtured a mixed economy based initially on exploitation of the resources of their common wastes, and more formal agriculture in other areas of their countryside. The thesis examines early modern examples of unspecialised production in the area, as well as the development of more specialised activities in the fields of agriculture, manufacturing and various extractive industries.;The thesis notes the different structures of landownership in the various townships around the moor and discusses their influence on their development. It also examines the organisation of rural production, and the influence of new technologies on the area's production cultures. However, the major influence on trends in rural production, as it becomes more commercial, was a changing relationship between town and country. Low cost rural production for commercial purposes, underpinned by cheap rural living, grew in order to supply the consumption needs of the urban labour force. If a landlocked town like Leicester was to grow it needed to be provisioned with items such as grain and coal carried on lower cost transport. It could then compete more effectively in the mass market to supply its own and more distant workers with cheap goods. The mines around Coleorton Moor equally needed a more economical transport infrastructure to distribute their coal. The achievement of provisioning the landlocked urban centres more cheaply, than adversely affected the competitiveness and living standards of the countryside in several areas.