Suburban development in five neighbouring South London parishes in the middle decades of the 19th century

Woodward, David (2012) Suburban development in five neighbouring South London parishes in the middle decades of the 19th century. (PhD thesis), Kingston University,


The dissertation's evaluation of five mid-Victorian parishes, which were situated twelve miles from the centre of London, examined many characteristics of the inhabitants who dwelt there. It carried out investigations into population expansion, gender balance, social class profile, occupational composition, household structure and domestic service. By selecting and evaluating a multiplicity of information from a diverse range of local, regional and national sources, the thesis not only elucidated and enhanced the documentary record of the five parishes, but connected localised developments, for instance migration, social zoning and social mobility inclinations to the changes that occurred nationwide between the 1850s and the 1880s. The London Borough of Sutton's local studies' search room and The National Archives provided much of the information needed. A continuous research question posed throughout the thesis was the degree to which the urban expansion activities in the five parishes, or elsewhere, were in some ways similar. Locally, however, there were large parochial dissimilarities, which are, within the thesis, thoroughly analysed. Here, a general scrutiny revealed that two of the parishes, Sutton and Wallington, were quickly expanding urban areas with growing appeal to the middle-class professionals, whilst the other three, Cheam, Carshalton and, to a lesser extent, Beddington, display much slower economic and social changes. With the arrival of railway links and piped-water the disparity between the parishes became even greater. This appraisal was echoed in all the parishes' class profiles, employment and gender structures. As the 19th century progressed, Sutton's relative geographical position, in relationship to central London, became of more crucial importance, as far as urban development was concerned. The thesis overall confirms the underlying research view that the higher than national average population rise between censuses, in a number of the five parishes, was closely linked with. the ease of access to railway transportation. The research has thrown some light on the somewhat differing suburbanisation processes within five distinctive parishes, and the effects of employing different types of research methods to reveal this. Urban data can now, perhaps, be more fruitfully considered in the light of this study.

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