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Assess the Impact of the Development of the Railways On Victorian Society and the Economy.

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Introduction

1. ASSESS THE IMPACT OF THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE RAILWAYS ON VICTORIAN SOCIETY AND THE ECONOMY. The impact of the railways on society and the economy in Victorian Britain was immense. Britain had a growing population and was going through an industrial revolution and increased urbanization. The necessity to move larger quantities of raw materials and goods, quicker and cheaper became of paramount importance. In particular there was a high demand for industrial and domestic coal which was heavy, bulky and often difficult to move, due to location. This produced a need for a more accessible transport system. Locomotive developments had already taken place and, together with the flood of support for the use of the railway as a transport network, provided an ideal opportunity for additional construction and investment. The railways had a profound effect on the transportation of goods and people through out the whole Country. They stimulated the growth of new and existing industries, created new employment and investment opportunities, became a means of communication and distribution and opened up new travel possibilities to many individuals. The initial development of the railways had a huge impact on existing industries. ...read more.

Middle

Each railway was run and financed as a separate concern, often competing with each other. Money was raised through private funding and until 1830 was financed by local businessmen who set up joint stock ventures. As costs escalated and financial institutions became aware of the huge profitability and financial return, joint stock banks guaranteed funds and eventually in the 1840s the London banks became involved as railway enterprises reached massive scales. Railways helped the rate of industrial investment to increase because many businesses and individuals, including over 100 members of parliament who had substantial financial interests in the railways, saw the large returns that were being paid and gambled their profits and savings on new railway companies. In the mid-1840s the Stockton-Darlington railway paid investors a 15 per cent dividend and had seen its shares rise from �100 in 1821 to �260 in 1838. Not all railway companies provided profitable returns and many lines were never completed causing investors, both large and small, to lose large sums of money. The railway industries purchased large quantities of land both in towns and the countryside. This had an immediate impact on the landscape and was often met with hostility although many landowners made huge profits on the sale of their land. ...read more.

Conclusion

The railways continued to employ large numbers of workers through out the century. Railways also enabled greater mobility of labour, long distance could be covered in a short space of time and people were able to relocate in areas with more prosperous employment opportunities. The railways had enormous consequences on society, industry and the economy. They stimulated existing industries and provided the foundations for many new ones. Their ability to move people and goods quicker and easier gave the basis for further advancement in an already changing society. Bringing about a more mobile population and the ability to travel to, or move to, areas with better employment opportunities. Being able to bring fresh produce to the entire population and by uniting all parts of the country enabled regional specialization in the production of goods. Railways provided opportunities for investment and helped to stabilize economic growth. Not everything connected to the railways was positive. The demolition of buildings in town centers directly caused many poor members of society to lose their homes. Government legislation was slow and inadequate because of the internal involvement of many members of parliament in the railways. However the railways provided an advanced technological method of transport financed by private enterprise that had a significant and long-lasting effect on society and the economy. ...read more.

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