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Durham e-Theses
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The Consett iron company limited: a case study in Victorian business history

Wilson, A. S. (1973) The Consett iron company limited: a case study in Victorian business history. Masters thesis, Durham University.



This thesis describes and analyses the progress and development of ironmaking at Consett between 1840-1940. The main body of the thesis is however devoted to the period 1864-1914, and examines the hypothesis that there was a failure in entrepreneurial ability in the late Victorian economy. Chapter I provides the background to the foundation of large scale iron-making at Consett, and also illustrates the risks involved in creating large enterprises in an age of unlimited liability. Chapter II deals with the capitalisation of the Consett Iron Company, Limited, between 1864-1914. The financial performance of the Company can then be examined with regard to the structure of ownership and the extent of the Company's capitalisation. As Consett was an integrated concern from the outset, its development has been treated through the examination of inputs, culminating in the final output of iron and steel. Chapter III therefore describes the Company's search for iron ore supplies through the period, examining the reasons for shifts in location from which ore was supplied, and also highlighting the comparative failure of the Company's management to secure a new source during the Edwardian decade. Chapters IV and V deal with the firm's coal-mining activities. The former traces the growth of demand and the Company's foresight in acquiring large new coal tracts. Chapter V then examines the problems on the supply side created by the conflict between the industry's naturally diminishing returns and the quality of management and labour effort. Chapter VI, VII and VIII look at the iron and steel producing activities. The first simply traces the changing technology, from a qualitative viewpoint. The impact of this Chapter is heightened by the quantitative evidence on the changing real costs of iron and steel manufacture, which are presented in Appendix G.l. Chapter VII examines the demand for the Company's iron and steel products, and the methods for marketing them. Chapter VIII concludes the main body of the thesis by enquiring into the Company's labour relations, and also the structure, training and personalities of the management. Finally Chapter IX examines the fortunes of the Company during the Great War and the difficult inter-war years. This exercise helps to emphasise the decline in managerial vigour which took place during the Edwardian era.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Philosophy
Thesis Date:1973
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Mar 2014 16:05

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