The continuous industrialisation of Britain following the so called industrial revolution affected both large urban towns as well as small semi-urban communities. The financial advantages of mass production, during the second half of the nineteenth century, caused many manufacturing companies to be formed and various existing businesses grew to extensive sized firms.\ud The main purpose of this thesis is a comparative study into the development of four industrial company communities in four rural towns. Samuel Courtauld and Company at Halstead, and R. Hunt and Company at Earls Colne, both in north west Essex, D. Gurteen and Sons at Haverhill, south West Suffolk and Richard Garrett and Company at Leiston, East Suffolk. A holistic approach is taken, not only in the way the communities evolved into urbanised towns dominated by the companies’ entrepreneurs, but also how, by sheer entrepreneurial skills, these businessmen created extensive industrial international companies. Without the prosperity brought about by the success of their businesses, no company community could have been created. Thus the entrepreneurial skills of these family businessmen were critical to running their businesses and dominating their towns. The ‘family firm’ was the crucial element that drove the four case study entrepreneurs and the one that dictated many of their successful strategies and policies.\ud A thorough synthesis of the literature of company communities, nationwide, allowed these four study towns to be compared and contrasted to the mass of differing communities in size and character. One key research question, thrown up by this thesis, is whether small to medium sized company communities were distinctive or simply mimicked the characteristics of the larger and better known examples of Saltaire, Port Sunlight or Bourneville. Underlying this is the view that smaller companies have been neglected by historians and as a result may have been more common than is generally recognised
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