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To What Extent Was the Decline of the Staple Industries

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    To what extent was the decline of the staple industries the most significant development affecting the people of Wales and England 1880 – 1929? The decline of the staple industries was a very significant development in people’s lives. Before the decline of the staple industries, Britain was known as the “workshop of the world” this was due to the fact that Britain producing 2/3 of the worlds coal, 50% of the worlds iron and 5/7 of all the worlds’ metal.

    This all changed when countries like Germany and the US used cheaper methods of extracting and producing these resources that Britain’s buyers looked else wear, the decline of these main industries caused a wave of job losses and other main industries to suffer. Britain lost its place as the most powerful empire; there were many reasons for this. Britain didn’t have the necessary raw materials needed for industrialisation; Britain’s farming industry couldn’t produce enough food to feed the growing population.

    The Liberal reforms were very significant in people’s lives. There were many reasons for why the liberals decided to reform Britain and these issues are highlighted in Booth and Rowntrees reports about people living below the poverty line. These reports tell us that if someone lost their job before the reforms they had to rely on their savings, family and friends, and the pawn brokers or depend on the poor laws which were the only sort of social protection they had.

    The government hardly ever stepped in to help people, the conservative government and member of the House of Lords all believed that if a person was poor that meant they were lazy; these reports discovered that that wasn’t the case and that in fact the majority of the poorest in society were born there. Some shocking statistics had shown that 11% of primary school children were malnourished and in 1900 the height for enlisting was reduced to 5 feet and even 50% who enlisted were in too ill health.

    There was a major need to reform, because working conditions needed to be improved in order to improve Britain’s employed for the future. Another significant factor that affected the people of Britain was the changing role of women in Britain. The main cause in the change to women was primarily down to world war one. The war opened up a wider range of occupations to female workers and hastened the collapse of traditional women’s employment, particularly domestic service. From the 19th century to 1911, between 11 and 13 per cent of the female population in England and Wales were domestic servants.

    By 1931, the percentage had dropped to under eight per cent. For the middle classes, the decline of domestic servants was facilitated by the rise of domestic appliances, such as cookers, electric irons and vacuum cleaners. The popularity of ‘labour-saving devices’ does not, however, explain the dramatic drop in the servant population. Middle-class women continued to clamour for servants, but working women who might previously have been enticed into service were being drawn away by alternative employment opening up to satisfy the demands of war.

    The number of women in the Civil Service increased from 33,000 in 1911 to 102,000 by 1921. The advantages of these alternative employments over domestic service were obvious: wages were higher, conditions better, and independence enhanced. Another reason was the general strike. The general strike was called by the TUC to support the miners in their quarrel with the mine owners, who wanted to reduce their wages by 13 per cent and increase their shifts from seven to eight hours.

    Workers in industries such as iron, steel and coal were encouraged to stay off work. The strike affected people across the country because these industries were at a standstill this caused the rest of the country to suffer. To conclude, I think that there were many significant factors that affected the British people and the declined of the staple industries was one of them. However, i think that the most significant factor was the war, as this affected all sexes and age groups across the country and no one was left unscathed by it.

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