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The finance of manufacturing industry in the Sheffield area, c.1850-1885

By Lucy Ann Newton


The thesis analyses the finance of manufacturing in Sheffield's economic region between 1850 and 1885, concentrating upon its main trades. Industrialists had to cope financially with both national economic fluctuations, especially the early 1870s boom and the depression of 1874-79, and rapid changes in technology. Cyclical expansion, survival during a slump, or the adoption of new techniques, all required financing. Initially, to determine financial demand, the scale and structure of manufacturing was considered and comparisons drawn between 1850 and 1885.\ud The demand for funds has also been reviewed through study of five particular local firms. From the supply side, undertakings which adopted limited liability as a form of organisation and a method of financing were analysed with respect to geographical and social sources of subscriptions, together with provincial banks in terms of their particular provision of funds. The research is empirically based and analysis has involved the extensive use of computer software. The work has revealed a continuing, interrelated pattern of very localised manufacturing, banks and system of finance. Indeed, the financial system mirrored the area's productive structure. Industry remained predominantly small-scale and banks continued to operate at a parochial level. Consequently, a regional financial network has been revealed which, along with the plough-back of profits, generally appears to have provided manufacturing with adequate funds. This system came under strain, however, especially when the banks could not adequately meet the needs of either the few large-scale firms that emerged, or, more generally, demand during the deep cyclical slump of 1874-79. Therefore, the thesis provides a wide ranging analysis of the finance and organisation of industry in the Sheffield region - an area of considerable industrial importance - during the mid-nineteenth century, a period of incomplete transition from the workshop to the factory

Publisher: University of Leicester
Year: 1993
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