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The Vital SparkThe British Coastal Trade, 1700-1930$
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John Armstrong

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780986497308

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9780986497308.001.0001

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Coastal Shipping: The Neglected Sector of Nineteenth-Century British Transport History

Coastal Shipping: The Neglected Sector of Nineteenth-Century British Transport History

(p.91) Chapter 6 Coastal Shipping: The Neglected Sector of Nineteenth-Century British Transport History1
The Vital Spark

John Armstrong

Liverpool University Press

This essay argues against previous maritime scholarship which suggests that the advent of the railway was evidence of the supremacy of modern over pre-industrial technology, and quickly rendered other modes of transport obsolete. It asserts that coastal shipping remained essential despite rail technology, and indeed achieved growth and expansion throughout the nineteenth century and up to the start of the First World War. It examines government records of tonnage, cargo, and profit; the naval potential of coasters; and newspaper resources in order to determine the prevalence of the network of coastal liner services. It analyses the approach of coastal industry when competing with rail - the development of new technology and the offer of rapid cargo turnarounds. It concludes that rail and coastal trades benefitted one another throughout the nineteenth century, contrary to the dominant narrative that rail rendered the majority of transport obsolete upon inception.

Keywords:   Pre-Industrial Shipping, British Railways, Coasters, Shipping Statistics, Coastal Liners, Canal Networks, Steam Tramps

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