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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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  • Longinotti, Edward

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Longinotti, Edward, 2012. "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," Economic History Working Papers 45562, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:wpaper:45562
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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/45562/
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    References listed on IDEAS

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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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    JEL classification:

    • N73 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - Europe: Pre-1913

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