We will investigate the economic, social and cultural changes in Oxford in the Victorian and Edwardian periods, taking it from a city still dependent on its university for fame and fortune to one ready, finally, to participate in the Industrial Revolution.
In 1850 Oxford was a fairly small, inward-looking city, still largely contained within its medieval boundaries; by the eve of the First World War it had quadrupled in size and was poised to become one of the major manufacturing centres in southern England.
We will examine the social, cultural and economic changes that the city underwent in this 65-year period and set them in the context of national developments. How did the coming of the railway, university reforms, religious upheaval, a rise in real wages and increasing concern for public health and sanitation affect the provision of education, leisure and public services, employment opportunities and the rapid development of Oxford's suburbs? The history of the city itself is still often neglected, even by its own citizens, and our main focus will be on the 'town', rather than the 'gown'.