Urbanisation

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What impact did urbanisation have on London throughout the 18th Century?

London in the 18th century brought about a revolution in urbanisation and the expansion of an urbanised city began in England and spread rapidly all around Europe. Urbanisation brought a dramatic and radical change to London, significantly in the impact of the Industrial Revolution which was effected urban society. There were both general and particular reasons why the eighteenth century was a century of urban growth and amoung the general reasons were the rise in national population, the expansion of industry and commerce, and the displacement of growing numbers of country-dwellers by an agricultural revolution.[1] At the beginning of the 18th century, Britain was primarily an agricultural country with most people living in rural areas and the majority of workers and industires operated within a domestic system.[2] This involved people working in their own homes to produce goods and also to cultivate food on their own farm or piece of land. During the 18th centuy, there was a gradual move away from this way of working and the growth of urbanisation changed the domestic system to improve the lives of the British public. Urbanisation brough together all the manpower it required, whether for manual work or for the 'tertiary sector' where the new age was creating more and more jobs, especially once London became more urbanised.[3] A further indicator of the abundance of the labour supply was the enormous number of domestic servants and at the end of the 18th century, domestic servants made up over 15% of the population of London and ultimately, England had no labour shortage as it was being urbanised.[4] The invention of machines after the industrial revolution led to a transformation in the ways in which goods could be produced and the speed and scale of the process of the 18th century, saw significant changes in the size, location and lifestyle of the British population.[5] Industrialisation was a very important influence in stimulating the movement to urbanisation and the growth of factories and the availibility of work in them attracted people from rural areas and sustained higher densities of people in London. Industrialisation was a majour factor in the population growth and urbanisation in London in the 1700s and although it initially created a new urban poverty, the living standards of the working class rose from the mid-18th century onwards as new employment opportunities became available.[6] During the 18th century, major improvements occurred whilst London was being urbanised, especially in agricultural prodoction. Modern scientific farming methods brought about new tools and farming machines, new methods, improved crops and employment rose.[7] In 1702, 1757, 1769 and 1773 Parliament passed legislation, liberalizing the economy and this led many to conclude that libralization significantly contributed to accelerate growth, due to urbanisation.[8] The vast majority of economic historians do not believe that any of these variables alone was responsible for the boom in the British economy, although many believe that urbanisation was essential for the London's improvement in its economy beause it is frequently asserted that it was the concomitant effect of all of them that delivered the improved performance.[9] Farming was modernised through the use of enclosure, the enlargement of farms, the use of new methods, new crops and the population grew, commerce expanded, and London promoted exports.[10] Due to urbanisation and the industrial revolution, the English countryside intergrated into the island's national market; as a component part of this network, English farms fed the population of the towns and industrial conurbations; they were the essential component in a domestic market which provided London to continue to develop in its early days.[11] It also had colonies, and London enjoyed the same stock of natural resources as it did a...
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