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Title: After the railway : a study of social change in five rural Thameside parishes, 1831-1901
Author: Stewart-Beardsley, Rosemary
ISNI:       0000 0004 2681 3448
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2009
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This thesis examines the impact that the coming of the Great Western Railway had on the social history of a cluster of rural riparian parishes in south central England between 1830 and 1901. The parishes of Basildon, Goring, Pangbourne, Streatley and Whitchurch are situated in an area of outstanding beauty on the banks of the River Thames approximately fifty miles west of London and eight miles north of Reading. The Bristol to London line (opened in June 1840) was built through the area by the Great Western Railway Company who also placed two stations in the area, one in Pangbourne and the other in Goring. For forty or so years after the arrival of the railway, the overarching social landscape of the district remained unchanged. Thereafter, despite being subject to similar economic vicissitudes and opportunities, the socio-economic demographics of the five parishes diverged markedly from each other. The critical factor in both the initial lack of response and also the later asymmetric growth appears lie with the reaction of the large landowners to the wider economic opportunities made possible by the railway. Several significant findings emerged from the research which directly challenged two common assumptions made about the development of rural regions in Victorian England. Firstly, the railway, rather than being the driving agent for socio-economic change, acted more as a facilitator. Whether or not change occurred after the railway was built was controlled in the first instance by the dominant landowners of each parish. Secondly, it became clear that, should they have been of a mind so to do, these leading landowners retained a great deal of power over their local communities into the early twentieth century.
Supervisor: Burchardt, Jeremy Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available