Bourgeois Portsmouth : social relations in a Victorian dockyard town, 1815-75
Field, John (1979) Bourgeois Portsmouth : social relations in a Victorian dockyard town, 1815-75. PhD thesis, University of Warwick.
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Official URL: http://webcat.warwick.ac.uk/record=b1751020~S1
Nineteenth century Portsmouth experienced greater continuity
of development than most industrial towns. Its size, the
military and naval presence, and a large working class,
were already well-established by the late eighteenth
century. State ownership meant that the Yard was not
producing for a competitive product market; other than
politically-inspired demands for economy, management had
little incentive to rationalize production. The civilian
trades were more typical of other areas: mainly small-scale
clothing production, often employing women and often based
Thanks to the large state sector and the consequent underdevelopment
of commercial activities, Portsmouth had few
extremely wealthy inhabitants, but many in comfortable
circumstances. The most wealthy were often women, followed
by retailers, commercial men, building employers, brewers,
and a few professional men. Despite a widely-held belief
that the town was not sharply differentiated, by wealth,
cultural activities were greatly affected by class and status.
Yard officials were infrequent participants in high-status
activities, unless they held existing naval officer rank.
Officers and the Southsea elite were the most frequent
The Borough continued to be dominated by %Thig-Liberals after
the 1830s. In particular, the role of the Carter family was
undiminished for some years. Growth of the electorate,
fears for the future of the Dockyard, decline of reformist xenthusiasm,
and resentment at Whig policies fed an expanding
populist Toryism. Always characterized by high participation
by retailers, the status of Councillors fell steadily.
Rating was the most important issue in local politics.
Authority in the Yard was shared, between the Admiralty,
local management, and key groups of craftsmen. Most Yard
workers saw no need for trade union organization. Friendly
benefits were already covered by non-contributory provision
from the employer; repre s ent ationh took place through the
committee system and petitioning. Only with the onset of
serious demarcation disputes did the labour force start to
organize. Outside the Yard, the only permanent organizations
were among skilled building workers. Workers were more
likely to organize as consumers, through cooperatives; local
social leaders could be asked to take up Dockyard issues.
The concept of social control has limited value. The i834
Poor Law Amendment Act was not fully implemented, and the
provision of a workhouse was unwillingly undertaken.
Charities were more important in creating or confirming
status than in controlling working people. While both poor
relief and education were seen as means of social control,
working people evaded poor relief through friendly societies
or Admiralty provision, and schools met many disciplinary
difficulties. The Borough Police demonstrated class bias;
only with difficulty were the police themselves brought to
accept their role. Most moral reform movements were conspicuous
for their failure to secure their ends.
|Item Type:||Thesis or Dissertation (PhD)|
|Subjects:||D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain|
|Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH):||Portsmouth (England) -- Social life and customs -- 19th century, Portsmouth (England) -- Social conditions -- 19th century, Portsmouth (England) -- History -- 19th century, Shipbuilding industry -- Employees|
|Official Date:||May 1979|
|Institution:||University of Warwick|
|Theses Department:||Department of Social History|
|Supervisor(s)/Advisor:||Shepherd, Michael, 1923-1996|
|Extent:||xxix, 665 leaves|
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