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Going beyond social savings: how would the British economy have developed in the absence of the railways?: a case study of Brunner Mond 1882-1914

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  • Edward Longinotti
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    Abstract

    This paper confirms the conclusion of the social savings methodology that industrial development was not dependent on the railways. However, it finds that there would have been a significant change in the distribution of industry without rail, a point underestimated by the social savings methodology because of its flawed assumption that in the absence of the railways the cost of water transport would have remained constant. The paper uses a case study of the large industrial chemical firm Brunner Mond to demonstrate that bulk transport requirements could not be absorbed by the narrow capacity waterways that constituted 40% of the UK waterway network without significant price increases. As a result, industrial development would have been dependent on access to high capacity water transport. Some waterways could have provided such capacity inland but water supply would have limited the extension of the high capacity inland waterway network. Thus, in a non-rail economy sustained industrial development would have predominantly occurred in coastal locations.

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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/45562/
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History in its series Economic History Working Papers with number 45562.

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    Length: 45 pages
    Date of creation: Jul 2012
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:ehl:wpaper:45562

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    Postal: LSE, Dept. of Economic History Houghton Street London, WC2A 2AE, U.K.
    Phone: +44 (0) 20 7955 7084
    Web page: http://www.lse.ac.uk/economicHistory/
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    1. Jenks, Leland H., 1944. "Railroads as an Economic Force in American Development," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(01), pages 1-20, May.
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