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Title: The geography of industrial decline : the Black Country iron and steel industry, 1850-1900.
Author: Medley, Gordon Roy William.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3391 3672
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University of London
Date of Award: 1986
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This thesis considers the role of the entrepreneur in the decline of the Black Country iron industry from 1850 - 1900. The initial chapters consider the changing fortunes of the industry from 1850 onwards. The period 1850 - 1870 was one of piecemeal growth and prosperity. New heights were reached in production totals and prices in pig and wrought iron and rolled products. From 1870 onwards, decline became a characteristic feature, reflected in increasing problems of raw material supply, cash flow and mounting liabilities. Various firms and sectors reacted to these changes in different ways. Some diversified production or re-structured companies; others went bankrupt and left the industry. To explain this decline, some observers have given prominence to the diminishing resource base, the emergence of new competitive products, poor technological progress and the discriminatory nature of freight rates. Others saw changes in the general economic climate coupled with increasing competition from abroad as the prime cause. It was shown that all of these variables added to the pressures and anxieties experienced by the regional entrepreneurs. It was not until the mid 1870s that the underlying difficulties in the iron industry became apparent to the majority of the ironmasters. Bankruptcies and sales frequently took place, affecting a variety of firms with the result that some re-structuring of the industry took place. Whilst experiencing these changes, the entrepreneur was actively engaged in lease and mortgage arrangements; legal and structural devices adopted to improve management, for resource provision, or, as a purely defensive measure. All provided the framework within which management decisions were taken. An assessment of the various reasons for the decline of the region's iron trade was then made, suggesting that it was the quality of management and the failure to appreciate and combat the increasingly difficult environments that stands at the heart of the explanation of decline.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History