Whilst the early modern period has long been recognized as witnessing a growth in trade and consumerism, the majority of studies to date have tended to focus upon London and southern England. In order to provide a more balanced understanding of the dynamics at work on a national level, this book explores the local economy and waterborne trades of Newcastle and the River Tyne, in North East England. Drawing upon a variety of primary sources - including parish records, probate inventories, Newcastle Exchequer port books and the previously unpublished diary of an apprentice hostman - none of which have been examined previously in this context, the study adds significantly to our understanding of the growing community in North East England. In particular, it underlines the expansion of a thriving middling class with an associated culture of consumption driving a rapid increase in the import, and often re-export of a wide range of luxury items of food, clothing and soft furnishings. As the coal trade and a flourishing general trade with London and other home and overseas ports grew, the book highlights the major impact upon the size and variety of work in the port, and the subsequent increasing size and complexity of the water trades community and its associated business networks.
Peter D. Wright is currently Honorary Visiting Fellow at the School of History, Classics and Archaeology, Newcastle University, UK. Based on an extensive experience of cruising in a small boat around the creeks, rivers and coastline of North East England, he developed a fascination for the maritime history and development of the region. When he retired from a career in the NHS in 2003, he pursued this interest in greater depth. He joined the School of History, and in 2011 gained a Doctorate for his reappraisal of the history of the water trades along the lower River Tyne.
’Overall, this is a fully-researched, extensively-referenced and well produced book which provides a regional case-study of commercial and maritime development in North East England. The author’s own maritime interests and background give him a real ’feel’ for his subject which certainly adds to our knowledge of the country’s maritime heritage.’ International Journal of Maritime History