Townley, William Edward (1969) Urban administration and health: a case study of Hanley in the mid 19th century. Masters thesis, Keele University.

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Abstract

The central theme of this study is the struggle, under the pressure of a deteriorating sanitary situation to reform the local government structure of Hanley, the largest of the six towns of the North Staffordshire potteries.
The first chapter describes the location of the town and considers its economic b asis and social structure in the mid-nineteenth century, with particular emphasis on the public role of the different social classes. Then follows an examination of the sanitary state of the town together with an analysis of the defects in the form of local governnent provided by the various unintegrated local authorities. Chapters Three and Four consider in detail first the abortive attempt to set up a local board of health in the town and then the attempt to incorporate the town which was successfully concluded in 1857. The motives and manoeuvres of the town's social leaders, who sought reform, and the brilliantly organized obstinacy of the working-classes who resisted change form the main themes of the first of these two chapters whereas Chapter Four shows how, between 1854 and 1857, the opponents of reform were in turn outmanoeuvred and a consensus in favour of reform eventually established.
The social structure and the work, particularly in the sphere of public health of the new Borough Council, in the first years of its existence, form the subject matter of Chapter Five. The final chapter involves a brief attempt to draw together the various strands of the study by surveying the changed situation in the town after 1870 and also to relate the changes which took place in Hanley to the greater problems involved in an assessment of the causes and nature of the wider movements for reform which provided one of the characteristic features of Victorian England.
A major point in the study is the imminence a round 1850 of a breakdown in local government under the pressure of urban growth. Incorporation prevented this breakdown but local vision was incapable of resolving the most fundamental of the sanitary problems and in these years the drab urban environment was firmly established, leaving immense problems of urban renewal to future generations.
The reform struggle released antagonisms and highlighted class divisions in the town which help to indicate the problems, prejudices and vested interests which Edwin Chadwick and other sanitary reformers had to meet in the critical years 1848 to 1854, as well as illuminating some of the tensions in urban society at this period. Working class hostility to reform was soundly based for incorporation robbed them of their slender share in the exercise of local power and the new Town Council was dominated by local manufacturers with the tradesmen in subservient alliance.
The Christian benevolence and committment to public affairs of some of the leading manufacturers and the lively state of working class politics in the town form subsidiary themes but in the last analysis the decisive influence for improvement was the pressure exerted by the central government and its inspectorate. Without this pressure there is little evidence that local initiative or Christian charity would have had the vision or the competence to meet the challenge to public health posed by continued urban growth or indeed to prevent the total collapse of local government in the face of that challenge.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain > England—Local history and description—Counties, regions, etc., A-Z—Staffordshire
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Humanities
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 19 Aug 2021 09:10
Last Modified: 19 Aug 2021 09:10
URI: https://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/9923

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