The Local Historian - Volume 42, Number 4 - November 2012


1. The Local And The Everyday: Interwar Womens Politics by Karen Hunt Show more → Show less ↓

This article is based on the lecture which Karen Hunt, Professor of Modern British History at Keele University, gave at the BALH Local History Day in Manchester in June 2012. Her argument was that between the two World Wars women’s politics—that is their involvement in political activity of all varieties, and not just electoral activity—was heavily shaped by everyday factors, a dimension which has been little researched because of a tendency to focus of suffragism and more publicly visible national dimensions to their role. Taking as her case study the city of Manchester, she shows how politically active women undertook a wide range of roles within the community, and how their domestic circumstances were a significant determinant of this. The article begins with an overview which explains the background to the period in terms of the achievement of the franchise, and then considers approaches adopted by previous researchers, arguing that they have compartmentalised women and seriously underestimated the diversity of roles and linkages with which a woman could be involved.


Hunt then looks at specific examples of politically-active women in Manchester, including Annot Robinson, Dora Taylor and Sarah Laski, each of whom (with others) worked in a variety of organisations and undertook important community work in welfare. She points out that many of these women were active in both political and non-political organisations, and then suggests that we need to research the choices which were available to women and the paths which they sought to follow. For example, ‘political women’ often focused on educating other women on the best way to use their vote, in the context of women’s domestic role. Some recognised that this identification with, and understanding of, the household and women’s place in it offered an opportunity to mobilise politically—it could become a source of political strength not available to men. Housewives were now a political force, and political women such as the well-known Manchester councillor Hannah Mitchell could, in their writing and campaigning, demonstrate real understanding of the circumstances, needs and aspirations of the new voters.


Karen Hunt concludes by proposing a ‘new archaeology’ of women’s politics, excavating the previously hidden levels of activity and showing the crucial role of the local and everyday factors. She suggests that a true national picture of the subject will only be achievable if the local dimension is properly understood, seeking that it should be ‘rebuilt out from the neighbourhood—from the local and the everyday’.

2. First World War Conscientious Objection In South Warwickshire by Philip Spinks Show more → Show less ↓

This article, which first appeared in the journal Warwickshire History, was the winner of the British Association for Local History Publications Awards 2012. It begins with an overview of the history of conscription in the First World War, leading up to the Military Service Act 1916. This provided for exemption from service on the grounds of conscience, and Spinks then considers the range of objections, their rationale for objecting, and the public and political response to their attitude. The procedures for registering objection are then discussed, focusing on the tribunals procedure and, in particular, its operation in Warwickshire (which has comparatively good surviving records). It is noted that tribunals were numerous (37 in Warwickshire excluding Birmingham) and that there were three possible decisions that could be made: absolute exemption; non-combatant exemption; and refusal of exemption. The article then considers examples from South Warwickshire, using the local newspapers as another key source because detailed reporting of the tribunals was common. It then analyses the cases, emphasising that all conclusions must be tentative because much documentation is lost (deliberately destroyed after the war) and local press coverage was not consistent. The statistics draw attention to the very small numbers of men involved (since most cases did not involve conscientious objection but sought exemption for other reasons, such as employment or family circumstances). Only 22 of 1327 known cases in South Warwickshire involved matters of conscience, and of these 16 were dismissed, eight of these being refused leave to appeal. The article concludes by noting the unenviable task of the adjudicators, a point easily overlooked.

3. The Management Of The Harbord Family Estate At Gunton In Norfolk by Peter Monteith Show more → Show less ↓

The author of this article, Peter Monteith, is an archivist who was employed on a major project to conserve and catalogue the family and estate papers of the Harbords of Gunton, Norfolk. The paper sets out some of his findings, drawing attention to the importance of the archive as evidence for eighteenth and nineteenth century estate management and highlighting the value of comparing the management of different estates owned by the same individual or family. The article begins with a brief overview and then sets out as simple an account as is possible of the extraordinarily complicated history of the family and its frequent name changes. The content of the archive is then analysed, covering topics such as the social standing of the Harbord family and its choice of eminent professions for design, survey and management work; the impact of the agricultural revolution, including matters such as rents, farm sizes, specialisation and diversification; the evidence which correspondence provides for the sharing of knowledge and ideas between landowners; the relationship between tenants, agents and landowner; and the crucial importance of the different approaches of individual agents.

4. Rethinking The English Village by John Beckett Show more → Show less ↓

In this essay, which is based on an earlier Wolfson Lecture in Local History, the eminent historian Professor John Beckett, former director of the Victoria County History, gives his perspectives on the English village, a subject which he is actively researching. He begins by pointing out the idealised image of villages and village communities, and then suggests that in many parts of the country villages were the exception rather than the rule, because patterns of dispersed settlement were there much more typical. Earlier writers knew that this was the case, and indeed drew attention to it, but, Beckett suggests, they did not provide an explanation of why that should be so. He then argues that three key factors help to explain the patterns and characteristics of rural settlement: i) the economics of farming, including the key variable of soil quality; ii) the importance of proximity for community interaction and the sharing of resources, so that in areas with fewer resources clustering was less likely; and iii) the role of the church. In the context of the third of these, he discusses the variability of parish size, and the characteristic very large multi-township parishes of the northern counties which contrasted so sharply with the numerous small ‘one community’ parishes of the south and midlands. These highly distinctive regional variations relate to the viability of unit sizes but also had a close relationship with community activity and community identity.


The article then considers the variations on the village theme, highlighting (in what Beckett agrees is an incomplete list) industrial villages, estate villages, utopian villages (such as Saltaire), and recent villages. Each of these relates to community living but in none of them is the original rationale apparent—each has been created, or has emerged, for different reasons, but the notion of community and linkage remains. Finally, Beckett suggests that classifying villages might seem straightforward and feasible, but that once we move away from midland England the problems become apparent. This is partly because of deep-rooted regional variations but also because of the transformation of villages and other communities since the First World War.

5. Bedfordshire Historical Record Society And The Bedfordshire Record Office: Their Contribution To Local History Over A Hundred Years by James Collett-White Show more → Show less ↓

This article commemorates the centenaries of two closely-linked organisations. The Bedfordshire Historical Record Society was founded in 1912, and in the following year the Bedfordshire Record Office (the first county record office in the British Isles) was established. The paper begins with an overview of local history and antiquarian studies and publishing in Bedfordshire before 1912, and then charts chronologically the intertwined history of the two organisations from 1913 to the present day. It provides a valuable perspective on the changing circumstances of both, including the choice of texts and documents for publication; the impact of key individuals such as George Herbert Fowler, editor for the Record Society and founder of the Record Office; the drive to secure and preserve private archives; the vicissitudes of war; the widening of the scope of collection and publication to include more recent chronological periods and more diverse types of material; the importance of the educational role of both organisations; the longstanding neglect of certain places (notably Luton) and the redressing of that balance; and, semi-rhetorically at the end, the question of the future of publishing societies and record offices as we have known them.

6. Local History Internet Sites: An Update For 2012 by Jacquelene Fillmore Show more → Show less ↓

This article continues Jacquie Fillmore’s well-established annual series, which provides an update of internet sites of interest and relevance to local historians. Inevitably selective, it is a valuable resource for all practitioners who make use of the internet, not only because of its breadth of coverage and eclectic diversity but also because it includes reviews of four websites which are considered to be of particular quality—thus helping to guide good practice. In this article 92 sites are identified with brief notes on their content and addresses, ranging from the Virtual Firework Heritage Museum, via the History of Tea, to the Alexandra Palace Television Society. Apart from its practical value, the article reminds us of the truly remarkable variety of research and enthusiasm which local history, family history and community heritage generate.


1. Westbury On Trym Monastery And College by Claire Cross Show more → Show less ↓

WESTBURY ON TRYM Monastery and College by Nicholas Orme and Jon Cannon (Bristol Record Society vol.62 2010 210pp ISBN 978 0 901538 31 4) details of availability from Bristol Records Society, c/o Regional History Centre, University of Western England, St Matthias Campus, Oldbury Court Road, Fishponds, Bristol BS16 3JP

Westbury-on-Trym, once an independent village but now a suburb of Bristol, possessed a church from a very early date, and the unusual apsidal east end and crypt of the present much later building may well reflect its Anglo-Saxon past. In 804, when it was already an oversight of the bishop of Worcester who owned lands in Westbury and the neighbouring parish of Henbury, the church was being referred to as a minster, or mother church, and had a staff of priests to serve the surrounding area. Both before and after the Norman Conquest reforming bishops of Worcester made abortive attempts to transform the minister into a regular monastery, but neither experiment lasted for more than a few years, and by the beginning of the twelfth century they had come to appreciate the advantages of having an institution upon which they could base their diocesan administration. By this date the clergy attached to Westbury comprised a dean and five canons maintained by the income from their separate estates or prebends. Only the dean, who had cure of souls, was under an obligation to live in the parish; provided they appointed vicars or deputies, the other five canons had no need to reside. Although in general worth less than the most lucrative cathedral canonries, the Westbury prebends valued at between £20 and £13 a year nevertheless attracted an eager stream of applicants, and over the centuries the bishop, the Crown and on occasions the pope himself used them to reward senior clerics in their entourage. Members of the two English universities, particularly Oxford, also benefited from this system of patronage and no less a figure than John Wycliffe held the prebend of Aust for nearly two decades from 1366 to his death in 1384, though his less fortunate contemporary poet and translator John Trevisa failed to make good his claim to the Westbury prebend he had been promised.

In this way for the greater part of the Middle Ages the minster continued to subsidise the higher clergy, until the nomination of John Carpenter to the see of Worcester in 1443. At a time when Lollardy was threatening the unity of the English Church, Carpenter fervently believed in the importance of education in defining orthodoxy. For some decades ecclesiastics and leading noblemen had been creating chantry colleges which combined prayer for the dead with schools and hospitals for the living, and almost as soon as Carpenter reached Worcester he seized the opportunity to remodel the antique minster of Westbury. Having first deprived the prebendaries of their income, apart from a nominal £2 a year, and placed the revenues from their prebends into a common fund, he more than doubled the college’s endowment out of his own resources. Under the new statutes he now expected the dean to be an academic, though he allowed him periods of absence since the responsibility for administering the parish now passed to the sub-dean. The six fellows, the stipendiary priests and clerks, the six retired priests and the twelve boy choristers had all to reside continuously and Carpenter built a college on the pattern of a university college to accommodate them. He also set up separate almshouses for six poor men and six poor widows and appointed a grammar master to teach both the choristers and local boys without charge.

Carpenter also made major alterations to the church, completing the tower, constructing a two-storied porch and a chapel dedicated to St John the Evangelist at the east end of the south aisle, and most significantly of all changing the crypt under the sanctuary into the chantry chapel of the Holy Cross where daily masses were to be offered in perpetuity for the salvation of his soul. On his death in 1476 he was duly buried in this chapel, and the college appears to have functioned as he intended until the Henrician Reformation when the collegiate churches suffered the same fate as the monasteries. The last dean, John Barlow, surrendered the college to the crown in 1544 and the church was reduced to a mere parish church served by a single incumbent. The diplomat Sir John Sadler subsequently paid a thousand marks (£666 13s 4d) for the college buildings and the right to present the living, and turned part of the college into a private house. Perhaps because the provisions for creating the new diocese of Bristol specified a new grammar school alongside the cathedral, and the city of Bristol already had numerous institutions for the relief of the poor, neither the school nor the almshouses at Westbury-on-Trym survived.

This study falls into three parts, the first a wide-ranging historical account by Nicholas Orme of the minster and college from its Anglo-Saxon beginnings till its demise in the sixteenth century, the second a detailed architectural and archaeological description of the church and college buildings by John Cannon, while the third is given over to a biographical listing of the Westbury clergy and alms folk. The volume contains sixteen plates in addition to numerous maps and plans, and the appendices include a translation of John Carpenter’s will together with a catalogue of the college’s properties as they appear in the Valor Ecclesiasticus of 1535. The last few years have seen a renewed interest in medieval English collegiate churches and this publication by the Bristol Record Society will make a very welcome scholarly contribution to the field.

Claire Cross

3. FURLONG AND FURROW A 14th century survey of the open fields of Great Bowden, Leicestershire by Heather Falvey Show more → Show less ↓

FURLONG AND FURROW A 14th century survey of the open fields of Great Bowden, Leicestershire edited and with introduction by Great Bowden Heritage and Archaeology (Great Bowden Heritage and Archaeology 2011? 48pp no ISBN) £5+£1 p&p from Steve Allen 01858 433021 or; AXELLTREES TO WINNOWSHEETS The wills and inventories of forty-eight women who lived in the area now within the St. Helens Borough Boundary 1625-1698 ed. Mary Presland et al. (St Helens Association for Research into Local History 2011 x+129pp ISBN 978-0-9536904-2-8) £8.50+£1.50 p&p from Mary Presland, 19 Millbrook Lane, Eccleston, St Helens WA10 4QX

Documents concerning a particular community in the past—whether the recent or more distant past—are always of interest to the local historians of that community. Some local history societies take it upon themselves to transcribe and publish such documents, usually to benefit and educate local inhabitants, but also to inform a wider audience. Two such publications are those detailed above and reviewed here. The source documents are very different: one, a fourteenth-century field survey, is a rare survival and a difficult text; the other, a collection of seventeenth-century women’s probate material, is less unusual but nevertheless instructive.

Inspired by the work of the historian and presenter Michael Wood, and fortunate to secure a foreword by him, the Great Bowden Heritage and Archaeology Group have published a translation of a detailed but incomplete survey of the common fields of Great Bowden—incomplete since the text clearly states that only fourteen of the eighteen carucates in the four great open fields were included. To local people, the actual details of the survey are surely fascinating. To an outsider, the survey’s primary attraction lies in its survival, since it provides an insight into the field-system operating in that part of the Midlands in the early fourteenth century (i.e. before the Black Death) and, as highlighted by Michael Wood, the origins of the field-names in the survey indicate that the village was not taken over by the Vikings but that the ‘English villagers of Bowden … lived alongside their Danish neighbours’. Before the survey’s text (Section 4) the Group has provided a description of the document itself (Section 1), an account of the trials and tribulations of reading, transcribing and translating such a text (Section 2), and also a note on the measurements used therein (Section 3). When the survey was produced, it would not have been accompanied by plan, let alone a map; the group did try to relate the field strips to the surviving ancient landscape, but this proved impossible. The 1885 6-inch OS map of Great Bowden has been redrawn on the inside cover to show the various roads and fields: might it have been possible to identify some of the fourteenth century strips in this? Section 5 comprises an alphabetical list of the furlong names mentioned in the text and possible interpretations of them: along with numerous topographical details, these provide the names of various inhabitants, whether living at the time of the survey or earlier. Unfortunately the book has no ISBN and therefore will not benefit from the exposure that such cataloguing brings.

The 89 probate documents selected from the area of the modern borough of St Helens provide information about the families of, and goods belonging to, 48 local women of varying status and wealth. The book appears to be a sequel to Angells to Yarwindles, published by the Association in 1999 and now out of print, which contains the wills and inventories of 26 Elizabethan and Jacobean women. The brief introduction describes in general terms the contents of wills and inventories, illustrating various points with examples from those transcribed. As the documents are numbered according to their chronological sequence in the main text, pages 1-5 comprise a list of decedents in alphabetical order. Unsurprisingly, some of the women were ill when they made their wills, but I wonder what exactly ailed Isabell Kenwricke, who described herself as ‘being something Distempered of body’? The contents of the wills range from the detailed instructions of Margaret Holland that carefully outline the assignment of her property, to the very brief bequests of Katherine Wainwright. As is frequently the case, some these women’s wills and inventories reveal much about everyday items such as clothing and  household goods: Elizabeth Baines’s clothes included an ‘old fashion under waistcoat’ and ‘three hatts and the hatt-cases’; Margaret Cropper’s included ‘4 Waste Coates’, ‘2 Red Petticoates’ and ‘A Bleu petticoate and 2 paire of Stockings’. Many of the women owned spinning-wheels, and both Elizabeth Hatton and Margaret Houghton had ‘Muggs’. There is a glossary and also index of names, which will, of course, appeal to family historians—but they are not the only other historians out there. An index of subjects, listing all of those household items, garments, and farming implements, would have widened the book’s appeal to early modern social, economic and agricultural historians to name but a few. 

It is great that these two local societies have published these transcripts and/or translations, thus making two very different types of pre-modern documents more widely available, but both could have extended considerably their intended audience. Several years ago I reviewed Bob Trubshaw’s How to Write & Publish Local & Family History Successfully(Heart of Albion Press, 2005). The excellent advice in that book still holds good. 


4. DARTMOOR’S ALLURING UPLANDS Transhumance and pastoral management in the Middle Ages by Jonathan Kissock Show more → Show less ↓

DARTMOOR’S ALLURING UPLANDS Transhumance and pastoral management in the Middle Ages Harold S.A. Fox (University of Exeter Press 2012 xii+291pp ISBN 978 0 85989 864 5 paperback: ISBN 978 085989 865 2) £55 or £30

When Harold Fox died in 2007, at the tragically early age of 62, he left behind the unpublished manuscript of a monograph. This, a study of Dartmoor in his native Devon, has been brought to publication by two of his colleagues—Christopher Dyer and Matthew Tompkins. It appears that Harold had completed and revised five of the book’s seven chapters and prepared about half the illustrations; sadly none of the footnotes (of which he was a master craftsman) seem to have been compiled. Dyer and Tompkins have also added an introduction and conclusion to this attractive and well-illustrated volume.

The focus of the book is transhumance—the transfer of cattle (and sometimes their attendant peoples) from lowland to highland to exploit seasonally available pastures. Harold may also have intended to delve into the deeper themes of the relative importance of pastoral agriculture (and of particular types of beast) in the medieval economy, the nature of the landscape and of property rights, and the uses and value of the moorland. Underpinning all of these is his typically extensive knowledge of the minutiae of people and places. The first chapter sets the scene with a consideration of the definition of various types of transhumance (one that is based on impersonal and personal management of the process rather than just on distances covered.) The second looks at how the process was organised in the period from c.1280 to c.1550 when the ‘red tides’ of cattle moved through the Devon landscape. This chapter is restricted to the central moorlands of the Duchy of Cornwall’s estate; the balance is restored by an examination of the same themes in an outer area, which was controlled by various manorial lords. The scale is then further widened to look at those distant communities which had detached portions of grazing land on Dartmoor, an exercise which Harold admits involves much speculation. In the fifth chapter Harold considers the archaeological, topographical and toponymical evidence for transhumance. To this reviewer and others, the recognition of seasonal settlement through excavation alone is not possible and Harold, although a historian not an archaeologist, might initially have trodden more carefully here. Ephemeral settlement in upland areas is not necessarily seasonal settlement.

The transition from seasonal settlement to permanency and from personal to impersonal transhumance is considered in depth with many examples. Harold dated this, perhaps controversially, to the Saxon era. Crucial to his argument is the skilful analysis of place-names. Yet as the Domesday Book is always reticent about the distribution of pasture and, indeed, contains no mention of Dartmoor, there has to be a discontinuity in his discussion of the evolution of the landscape. The last, obviously incomplete, chapter deals with the routeways on which transhumance depended and on the impact the practice had on the wider economy. The book ends inevitably on a sad note—one of what might have been and of how his work might have been developed in later studies. Harold once confessed to me that he had no intention of retiring: a life without scholarly activity, I think, actually frightened him. This his last publication, typically questioning and skilfully executed, stands as tribute to that life.


5. Late Medieval Ipswich Trade And Industry by Rosemary Horrox Show more → Show less ↓

LATE MEDIEVAL IPSWICH Trade and industry Nicholas R. Amor (Boydell Press 2011 300pp ISBN 978-1-84383-673-5) £50

This is the latest volume in the series of works on Suffolk history produced under the aegis of the Centre of East Anglian Studies and with financial help from the Ann Ashard Webb bequest. Its focus, dictated in part by the availability of source material, is on the fifteenth century, but the author emphasises that this is not a discrete period and he does in practice consider the ‘long’ fifteenth century and its relationship with what came before and after. Similarly, although the emphasis is avowedly on the town’s economy, other issues are touched on, often through the medium of cases brought in the local courts, which provide much of the human interest here. Seven appendices offer detailed factual underpinning, such as the value of individuals’ shipments, and, in the most substantial appendix, biographical information on Ipswich townspeople, although in this case without providing references.

The book is explicitly a contribution to the ‘urban decline’ debate, which was at its most vehement in the 1970s and has since quietened down, although remains a live issue. The author offers a fairly neutral survey of the debate, which is tactful since initially parts of it were largely sterile—vitiated by a failure to distinguish between the corporate wealth of towns and the private wealth of their inhabitants. What became clear quite quickly is that generalisation was dangerous, not just because losers might generate winners (and vice versa) but also because the particular circumstances of towns were so variable. As Amor emphasises, the way forward is by looking closely at individual towns, which demands the deployment of local records rather than relying on the view from the centre. Inevitably these can be patchy, and although Ipswich is clearly quite well-endowed in archival terms it is noticeable that the largely chronological approach of the book is also shaped by the fact that certain categories of document survive in significant numbers for some periods more than others. Inevitably this makes mapping changes across the period tricky because one is not always comparing like with like, but the author is well aware of this and does not push the evidence further than it will go; indeed he draws attention to places where the sources seem to be sending out contradictory messages,

The result is a valuable addition to local urban studies, both for readers interested in pointers to the state of the national economy and for those more concerned with the local experience. A sensible balance is struck between the often necessarily anecdotal local evidence and the general conclusions to be drawn from it. The author is careful to locate his discussion of Ipswich within the context of national developments and by comparison with other East Anglian centres, notably Colchester and Bury St Edmunds. There are places where one would like to hear more. The impact of the Black Death remains in the wings rather than coming centre stage, for instance, and it would be good to have more discussion of the composition and jurisdiction of the local courts whose records have been so effectively quarried for examples. But the author has succeeded in marshalling an impressive array of evidence from what are often intractable and patchy sources, and deployed it in a persuasive account of one town’s experience in the economic squalls of the fifteenth century.


6. Victoria County History Of Essex Vol.11: Clacton, Walton And Frinton: North Essex Seaside Resorts by Sean O\\\'Dell Show more → Show less ↓

Victoria County History of Essex vol.11: CLACTON, WALTON AND FRINTON: NORTH ESSEX SEASIDE RESORTS, ed. Christopher Thornton and Herbert Eiden, with contributions from Peter Boyden, Andrew Senter, Shirley Durgan, Paul Rusiecki and James Bettley (Institute for Historical Research/Boydell & Brewer 2012 xx+373pp ISBN 978 1 904356 39 4) £95

The eleventh of the ‘Big Red Books’ of Essex brings the focus of the Victoria County History to the holiday resort towns of Clacton-on-Sea, Walton-on-the-Naze and Frinton-on-Sea. As historians become increasingly interested in domestic tourism and resort development it is indeed a timely publication; this corner of Essex (often promoted as ‘The Tendring Peninsula’ in recent years) has witnessed significant historical developments in this regard. The three resorts on the coastal strip, diverse in character but having shared tourism-centred economy, developed relatively late by comparison with the earlier eighteenth–century seaside resorts such as Brighton and Margate, but grew at a remarkable rate from their nineteenth century beginnings. Their very nature presents a common challenge to the editors of, and contributors to this volume: among the details and minutiae that must necessarily be covered, a clear sense of place and an understanding of the developing character and social tone of the resorts should emerge. Happily, this has been achieved throughout the work.

The editor’s introduction gives a comprehensive overview of the subject matter which sets up the subsequent chapters well and effectively contextualises the more focused studies that follow. The resorts were established on land typical of much of the Essex coast: inaccessible marsh, and areas hard to reach by sea because of shallow beaches and large tidal ranges. Nevertheless Walton-on-Naze, established around 1830 by a consortium of Colchester businessmen, was followed by the development of Clacton from 1870 and Frinton towards the turn of the century. Chapters dealing with each resort up to 1914 follow, examining the early development (including the important new rail links), economy, local government, politics, social and cultural lives of each town. Such themes are subsequently explored in chapters dealing with the First World War, the inter-war years, the Second World War, 1945 to 1970, and 1970 to 2009.

Walton, an agricultural settlement of just over 200 inhabitants at the beginning of the nineteenth century, has its subsequent development to 1914 analysed, including a brief consideration of the area’s earlier history. The early growth of the resort with its vital rail link is clearly laid out in detail: the contributions of key figures to the new local economy, its governance and politics allow the reader to gain a clear understanding of this important phase. The developing social and cultural character of the new town up to the outbreak of war is comprehensively considered.

Clacton is analysed from its establishment on the coastal stretch of the extensive rural parish of Great Clacton. This chapter provides a detailed account of the town’s exponential expansion (the population grew by some 811 percent between 1871 and 1911) up to the outbreak of war. Again, the contribution of key figures and the establishment of rail and maritime connections are painstakingly covered, thus providing an authoritative narrative for the birth of the resort. Maps, tables and illustrations are used judiciously to further illustrate the developing geographical and economic aspects of the town, including residential development and trades, businesses and occupations other than tourism. In dealing with the social and cultural aspects of Clacton’s early growth, the contentious ‘lowering of social tone’ as a result of the popularity of cheap rail and steamship excursions (which ran against the early developers wishes for a high-class resort) is comprehensively studied.

The transformation of Frinton, from a small and sparsely populated agricultural parish in 1880 to a new and exclusive modern resort by the turn of the century, is detailed in a similar manner. The provision of a railway station and water supply created investment opportunities here, and the sale of agricultural holdings meant that Frinton’s earlier small population was almost entirely replaced by incomers. As the resort grew and maintained its exclusivity, the story of local politics in particular is fascinating.

The First World War brought considerable disruption to the economies of the three resorts; with the threat of invasion they saw tourism replaced by troop billets and defensive measures. Harsh restrictions had a considerable effect upon daily routine and trade, despite the efforts of local chambers of commerce to keep business alive. The chapter covering this period for all three resorts examines this in relation to the national picture and also details local defence and responses to hardship. The inter-war years were particularly significant for the locality as developments during the 1920s and ‘30s had a profound effect upon the physical, economic and social character of the resorts and their immediate environs. This period is therefore given in-depth analysis. Growth in population and housing and the increasing importance of town planning are evidenced, with illustrations of how growth affected each locality. The creation of the Jaywick Sands Estate to the west of Clacton, a significant development that continues to have a turbulent relationship with its local authority, is examined here, as is the arrival of the pioneering Butlins commercial holiday camp at Clacton. Analysis of the three towns during the Second World War again reveals that coastal defences were a prominent feature. The inevitably severe disruption to trade was felt by hoteliers and guest house proprietors who had thus enjoyed brisk trade during the late 1930s. Clacton saw heavy evacuations and the transformation of Butlins Holiday Camp to military use. This section also deals with the casualties and damage that these vulnerable east coast towns experienced: Clacton, for example, suffered the first civilian war deaths in mainland Britain.

Further development between 1945 and 1970, from political, economic, social and cultural viewpoints, is given close scrutiny. A wealth of information which chronicles this turbulent and dynamic period, including the post-war housing shortages, the re-establishment of tourism, the catastrophic floods of 1953, the violent disturbances at Clacton in 1964 caused by visiting bands of Mods and Rockers, and Enoch Powell’s controversial 1969 visit to the town provoking students of Essex University to protest. We gain clear insight into the machinations of local politics and a strong understanding of the local experience within the wider social and economic history of the post-war years. Examination of the period from 1970 to 2009 addresses local population growth against a backdrop of the decline of the traditional English seaside holiday nationally. Seasonal unemployment, a typical feature of holiday resorts generally, worsened in this period and national advertising campaigns were undertaken to draw visitors. Frinton, maintaining its exclusivity, was less vulnerable to decline. Despite the demolition of the Butlins holiday camp in 1987 and its redevelopment for housing, Clacton and Walton continued to be promoted by the local authorities as family holiday resorts, although several regenerative schemes sponsored by local and national government were adopted to counter the their difficulties. Here we can examine in sharp local focus the effects of trends echoed in the works of John K. Walton, John Urry, Julian Demetriadi, Sheela Agarwal, Gareth Shaw and Allan Williams, among others. The final two chapters analyse institutions (places of worship, educational and medical establishments) and the built environment.

This volume is therefore a first-rate resource for historians and a fascinating reference work for general readers. It is meticulously researched and written in a detailed yet accessible manner, and although tourism is a central theme, all other aspects of the resorts evolution are covered. There is a comprehensive bibliography and the footnotes detail extensive and wide-ranging primary and secondary sources. High quality maps, tables, monochrome and colour plates illustrate the work throughout. The alphabetical index combines places, persons and subjects. Despite administrative and funding difficulties during its compilation, this volume was completed with the aid of the trusts, societies and individuals that supported the VCH Essex Appeal fund.