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The carrying trade and the first railways in England, c1750-c1850

Dougherty, Carolyn (2018) The carrying trade and the first railways in England, c1750-c1850. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Transport and economic historians generally consider the change from moving goods principally on roads, inland waterways and coastal ships to moving them principally on railways as inevitable, unproblematic, and the result of technological improvements. While the benefits of rail travel were so clear that most other modes of passenger transport disappeared once rail service was introduced, railway goods transport did not offer as obvious an improvement over the existing goods transport network, known as the carrying trade. Initially most railways were open to the carrying trade, but by the 1840s railway companies began to provide goods carriage and exclude carriers from their lines. The resulting conflict over how, and by whom, goods would be transported on railways, known as the carrying question, lasted more than a decade, and railway companies did not come to dominate domestic goods carriage until the 1850s. In this study I develop a fuller picture of the carrying trade than currently exists, highlighting its multimodal collaborative structure and setting it within the ‘sociable economy’ of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century England. I contrast this economy with the business model of joint-stock companies, including railway companies, and investigate responses to the business practices of these companies. I analyse the debate over railway company goods carriage, and identify changes in goods transport resulting from its introduction. Finally, I describe the development and outcome of the carrying question, showing that railway companies faced resistance to their attempts to control goods carriage on rail lines not only from the carrying trade but also from customers of goods transport, the government and the general public. I suggest some reasons why the railway companies were able to establish a monopoly over rail goods transport despite this resistance, and briefly describe the ramifications of the change in control of goods transport.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > History (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.772970
Depositing User: Dr Carolyn Dougherty
Date Deposited: 25 Apr 2019 13:07
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2020 13:08
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/23626

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