Iron Shipbuilding on the Thames, 1832–1915
An Economic and Business History
This title was first published in 2000. 'Little better documented than King Arthur or Robin Hood' complained one historian in 1998 describing the lack of information on Thames shipbuilding. This study of iron shipbuilding on the capital's river fills this noticeable gap. A.J. Arnold examines the initial domination of the iron shipbuilding trade by Thames firms from the launch of the first iron vessel on the river in 1832 to the end of serious Thames-side shipbuilding in 1915. For the first time, the factors that caused the industry's demise are explored fully, together with an analysis of the effect it had on its locality. Extending existing series of data, the book includes information on annual shipbuilding tonnage and the number of vessels constructed, and further looks at tonnage built for foreign citizens, companies and navies, and for the British Admirality. This broader and deeper statistical survey is supplemented with less systematic documentation such as memorabilia and business records to arrive at the most complete picture yet of a once pre-eminent British industry. A.J. Arnold is Professor of Accounting and Business History at the University of Essex.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction; Iron shipbuilding comes to rural London, 1832-46; Vertical integration, 1847-53; The Crimean War and the first crisis, 1854-59; Trade boom and the effects of ’shady finance’, 1860-67; The long slump, 1868-88; An excessive dependence on the state, 1889-1915; Conclusions; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.
'...the first comprehensive study of this episode in London's industrial history...Arnold adds to our knowledge both of the history of shipbuilding and of London industry, providing new data and new insights into the history of the main firms.' Business History '... by 1915 there were no significant shipbuilding firms left on the river. A re-assessment of this dramatic decline was long overdue. Arnold's important new book takes up the task, examining business strategies, industrial and economic issues.' The Northern Mariner 'Arnold's work constitutes a significant addition to our understanding of Britain iron shipbuilding industry during its heyday... A. J. Arnold addresses a difficult and long-standing pair of problems in this volume... deserves great credit for eschewing the obvious and tackling the difficult... Arnold has both enlightened us and given us pause for thought... an impressive book... The research is thorough... In terms of the research, Arnold charts new waters... Iron Shipbuilding on the Thames should be the new starting point for understanding this London industry... an important contribution to the history of British iron shipbuilding... it will justifiably become the standard text on the London industry... shipbuilding historians owe a debt of gratitude to A.J. Arnold.' International Journal of Maritime History '... a welcome addition to a poorly documented and under-researched subject.' Journal for Maritime Research