Le Guillou, M (1972) Developments in the South Staffordshire iron and steel industry, 1850-1913, in the light of home and foreign competition. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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When Ebenezer Parkes was discussing the question of foreign competition as it affected the local iron and steel industry at the turn of the century, he stressed that it was a 'many sided thing'. Besides, if South Staffordshire was to reassert itself, then improvements would have to come about in a number of areas - in education, use of labour-saving machinery, practices in the blast furnace and rolling-mill departments, labour relations, canal and rail transport, structure of industry, state support and Colonial trade. This thesis is an attempt to look at the various 'sides' of the South Staffordshire iron and steel industry as it faced up to increasing competition both from other United Kingdom districts and from abroad. The importance of physical factors is considered in conjunction with human ones. Clearly, South Staffordshire could do nothing to prevent the growth of new centres of iron and steel production; furthermore, other older centres of production, notably South Wales and Scotland, fared better in the second half of the nineteenth century because of their tidal locations. Iron ores from Spain or steel 'semis' from the United States or the European Continent tended to emphasise the shift away from a land-locked centre of production. Abroad, tremendous growth was experienced by the iron and steel industries of the United States and Germany, a development which made all the apparent disadvantages of South Staffordshire appear that much more significant. Of these disadvantages, South Staffordshire's almost total dependence on outside supplies of metallurgical coke ranks very high. So, too, do the numerous shortcomings of the transport facilities of the area. On the human side, the failure of the local ironmasters to take full advantage of the proximity of East Midland iron ore supplies was crucial. Their reliance upon outside supplies of iron are, which remained largely out of their control, put them in sharp contrast with producers on the Continent or in the United states. To add to the difficulties being experienced by the local industry, Birmingham and the Black Country proved a very attractive market for foreign producers. The so-called 'dumping' policies of the Americans and Continentals are pursued at some length in the last chapter. Despite the many changes which took place in the district, South Staffordshire remained a very important part of the United Kingdom iron and steel industry. The fortunes of Round Oak, and especially those of Sir Alfred Hickman's Spring Vale Works, illustrate the fact that overall the situation in South Staffordshire was never a totally hopeless one.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Natural Sciences > School of Geography, Geology and the Environment
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2019 16:21
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2019 16:25
URI: https://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/5953

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