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The Chester and Holyhead Railway and its political impact on North Wales and British policy towards Ireland, 1835-1900

Lloyd, Philip (2017) The Chester and Holyhead Railway and its political impact on North Wales and British policy towards Ireland, 1835-1900. PhD thesis, University of York.

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This thesis presents a theoretical framework for understanding the relationship between technology and politics, and then applies it to the use made of railways by successive British governments in their Irish policies between 1835 and 1850. It questions why the Chester and Holyhead Railway was chosen over its rivals in 1844, and what political influence government applied to ensure its success against a technically superior alternative. The thesis also examines the interaction between politics and technology between 1850 and 1900 in North Wales by assessing the political implications of the London and North Western Railway monopoly, including the Holyhead line. Uniquely, the study shows that successive governments between 1835 and 1850 included railways in their Irish policies, but did not achieve the required results. Politicians failed to implement the impressive 1839 Irish Railway Commission proposals, and then did not focus sufficiently on reducing journey time between London and Dublin. Government allowed regional and personal interests in Britain to guide its decision-making, rather than technical advice. Railways produced paradoxical political results in North Wales between 1850 and 1900. They assisted both Anglicisation and Welsh nationalism, and the thesis adds to knowledge by showing that railways featured on the nationalist agenda of the region, particularly after 1867. By exploring railways and politics in North Wales and Ireland, this thesis enhances knowledge about their role in day to day governance, nation-building and larger imperial ambitions. These novel findings are based on a thorough review of the literature, an extensive use of primary sources and a range of research methods, including mathematical calculation. The thesis suggests that technological solutions to political problems produce more of the intended results when expertise, public priorities and political leadership are aligned so that projects are not, in Henry Thoreau’s words, merely: ‘an improved means to an unimproved end.’

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: railways technology Ireland politics North Wales
Academic Units: The University of York > History (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.733646
Depositing User: Mr Philip Lloyd
Date Deposited: 19 Feb 2018 14:22
Last Modified: 21 Feb 2020 10:53
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/19201

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