The Local Historian - Volume 28, Number 2 - May 1998


1. Local taxes as a measure of commerce in the eighteenth century: the cases of Poole, Dorset and King's Lynn, Norfolk by John M. Barney Show more → Show less ↓

This article examines the practice of assessing personal property or 'stock' to poor rate and land tax as was common in 18th century towns as a supplement to levies based on the rental value of land and buildings. The principal question for consideration is whether such assessments can be used as an indicator of the relative commercial importance of individuals and firms. The origins and changing legal background of the practice are surveyed together with particulars of the differing approaches to assessment adopted by the ports of Poole and King's Lynn, both of them towns where a substantial proportion of taxes were raised by these means. At Poole the practice gave rise to a landmark legal decision; at King's Lynn to a lengthy battle between the merchants and the general tradespeople. The author concludes that much may be learned about the commercial structure of a town, but only in those rather rare cases where adequately detailed records survive.

2. The Victorian development of Whitby as a seaside resort by Andrew White Show more → Show less ↓

The development of Whitby, Yorkshire, from a fishing harbour, shipbuilding centre and industrial port into a significant seaside resort in the second half of the 19th century is analysed in this article. The change was not made without some resistance, and it was closely linked to the ambitions of George Hudson, the 'Railway King', whose takeover of the Whitby & Pickering Railway (at that time still horse-drawn) precipitated a great transformation. Hudson used Dobson of Newcastle as his architect and although their association only lasted a dozen years the dignity and style of the new development on the town's West Cliff was assured. Whitby attracted a distinctive literary and artistic set, including Mrs Gaskell, Henry James, Burne-Jones and George du Maurier. The latter's cartoons for Punch magazine frequently used Whitby as a setting. The article uses maps, diaries, pictures and trade directories to trace the exact progress of the work.

3. 'This electric age is woman's opportunity': the Electrical Association for Women and its all-electric house in Bristol, 1935 by Susanna H. Reece and Gerrylynn K. Roberts Show more → Show less ↓

The building of an all-electric house in Bristol in 1935 was one of the high points of the activities of the Electrical Association for Women (EAW) during the interwar years. Being designed explicitly for women by women, the Bristol house was intended as a material expression of the EAW's aim of applying modern principles of scientific management, using up-to-date electrical tools, in the home in order to free women from domestic drudgery so that they might enjoy both increased leisure and fuller participation in public life. More than 20,000 visitors viewed the house during its single month of public opening and it was written up in a variety of national trade, architectural and women's publications, as well as the local press. The project was supported by the national council of the EAW and its director in London, Caroline Haslett. However, in conception and execution, the house was in fact an independent project of the EAW's Bristol branch, chaired by the indefatigable Mrs Dorothy Newman, wife of the go-ahead chief engineer and general manager of the Bristol Corporation Electricity Department, A.J Newman. This paper examines the building of the house as both an expression of the national EAW ideals with respect to the potential of electricity in the home, and also as an attempt at a practical implementation of such views in a specific local and commercial context. The resulting tensions between the national and local perspectives was characteristic not only of the EAW but of the electricity industry as a whole during the period of electrical expansion when the National Grid marched across Britain.

4. St Helena: British local history in the context of Empire by Alexander Hugo Schulenberg Show more → Show less ↓

As a result of the profound impact of colonisation and imperialism on many areas of the globe, several of which are still British territories today, British local history extends well beyond the confines of the British Isles. These remaining colonial territories can often demonstrate several centuries of British history, and their historians face many of the same substantive and methodological problems as their colleagues whose concerns are with the British Isles, while also having to deal with problems of colonial historiography all their own. Furthermore, as likely as not, much of the local history material of these surviving outposts of the British Empire is researched in the reading rooms of the British Library and the Public Record Office in London, rather than in the territories themselves. This article provides a brief introduction to one of these colonies, St Helena, which - although located in the middle of the South Atlantic - recently laid claim to being the 'lost county of England' and requested that it be accorded the constitutional status of a 'British Island' in the same way as the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. It also provides an introduction to the existing historiography of St Helena, and to the sources available for the study of the island's history. It is hoped that this may contribute to an increasing awareness among British local historians of the wealth of British local history in other parts of the world, especially in the remaining island colonies. Even in so vast an arena as the British Empire, there is something to be learned about the importance of local and 'localised' history.