Industrialisation changed every aspect of rural life in the reign of Queen Victoria. It caused a greater diversification in industry which resulted in a decline in agriculture, and people moved from the country to the manufacturing towns in droves. In 1851 only half the population lived in towns but by 1901 three-quarters did so.
This book outlines the changes and why they occurred. It paints a picture of country life as it was when Victoria came to the throne and shows how a recognisably modern British way of life had established itself by the end of her reign. During that time there was a population boom which drew people off the land to the towns and cities. Cheap food from overseas meant that Britain was no longer self-sufficient but it freed up money to be spent on other goods. Village industries and handcrafts were undercut by the new industrial technology which brought about mass production. Markets were replaced by shops that grew into department stores. And the coming of the railways meant that goods and people could be transported en masse throughout the land.
The countryside responded to urbanisation in a variety of ways and both rural and urban cultures exist side by side to this day. But the Victorian period was one of massive change and the challenge was how rural society could integrate itself into the modern industrial state – and this is its story.