1st Edition

Transforming the Countryside The Electrification of Rural Britain

Edited By Paul Brassley, Jeremy Burchardt, Karen Sayer Copyright 2017
    264 Pages 16 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    264 Pages 16 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    It is now almost impossible to conceive of life in western Europe, either in the towns or the countryside, without a reliable mains electricity supply. By 1938, two-thirds of rural dwellings had been connected to a centrally generated supply, but the majority of farms in Britain were not linked to the mains until sometime between 1950 and 1970. Given the significance of electricity for modern life, the difficulties of supplying it to isolated communities, and the parallels with current discussions over the provision of high-speed broadband connections, it is surprising that until now there has been little academic discussion of this vast and protracted undertaking. This book fills that gap. It is divided into three parts. The first, on the progress of electrification, explores the timing and extent of electrification in rural England, Wales and Scotland; the second examines the effects of electrification on rural life and the rural landscape; and the third makes comparisons over space and time, looking at electrification in Canada and Sweden and comparing electrification with the current problems of rural broadband.

    1. Introduction

    [Paul Brassley, Jeremy Burchardt and Karen Sayer]

    Part I: The Progress of Electrification

    2. The Electrification of the Countryside: The Interests of Electrical Enterprises and the
    Rural Population in England, 1888-1939

    [Karl Ditt]

    3. Power to the People: Power Stations and the National Grid

    [John Sheail]

    4. Lighting the Landscape: Rural Electrification in Wales

    [Richard Moore-Colyer]

    5. The Electrification of Highland Scotland

    [David Fleetwood]

    6. Electrifying Farms in England

    [Paul Brassley]

    Part II: The Effects of Electrification

    7. Electrification and its Alternatives in the Farmer’s and Labourer’s Home

    [Karen Sayer]

    8. Pylons and Frozen Peas: The Women’s Institute Goes Electric

    [Rosemary Shirley]

    Part III: Comparisons over Space and Time

    9. Rural Electrification in Sweden: A Comparison

    [Carin Martiin]

    10. People, Place and Power: Rural Electrification in Canada, 1890-1950

    [Ruth W. Sandwell]

    11. Rural Broadband: A 21st-Century Comparison with Electrification

    [Martyn Warren]

    12. Conclusion: Electricity, Rurality and Modernity

    [Paul Brassley, Jeremy Burchardt and Karen Sayer]


    Paul Brassley is a Visiting Research Fellow in the Land, Environment, Economics and Policy Institute, University of Exeter.

    Jeremy Burchardt is Associate Professor in the Department of History, University of Reading.

    Karen Sayer is Professor of Social and Cultural History, Leeds Trinity University.