The Influence of Railways on the development of Accrington and District, 1848-1914

Haydock, Mark A (2009) The Influence of Railways on the development of Accrington and District, 1848-1914. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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The project explores the complex and counter-intuitive historical relationships between railways and development through a local study of Accrington and the surrounding smaller towns and townships in East Lancashire. This distinctive, yet little-researched, district formed a compact and self-contained mini-conurbation by 1914 flanked by its larger neighbours Blackburn and Burnley. Accrington itself flinctioned as the transport hub for the sub-region, dominated by cotton, coal, engineering and brick making, and served by the East Lancashire Railway from 1848 to 1859, and then by the successor amalgamated company, the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, until 1922. The important and unusual T-shaped rail network linked the district to Preston, Liverpool and West Lancashire, Leeds, Bradford and West Yorkshire, and towards the south, Bury and Manchester. The railway companies ran intensive passenger and freight services to connect the thriving industries and towns along the highly-developed trans-Pennine corridor. The Leeds and Liverpool canal, roads and tramways provided specialised services which complemented railways well in a sophisticated "transport-scape".
Accrington was a railway town which experienced exponential growth during the mid and late Victorian eras. Its industries became both increasingly diversified and specialised, its economic base was independent yet interdependent as intra-regional and inter-regional trade and business networks grew rapidly, the rail hub organised the structure of urbanisation. Within the sub-region, multiple nuclei of growth emerged suddenly and rapidly without urban precursors during the railway era. There were no significant commuting flows or suburban developments.
These striking phenomena cannot be explained by conventional approaches such as metropolitan central-place theory and cliometric counter-factual modelling. W.W. Rostow's "take-off' and F.J.Turner's "frontier" concepts are selectively rehabilitated, re-interpreted and synthesised to build an innovatory framework to describe and explain the observable patterns in East Lancashire. The theoretical synthesis is briefly applied to case-studies from northern England to explore the widely diverse impact of railway investments, and to highlight the potential for an extended comparative research agenda.

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