Rural History 2015

Panel 55

Organizers: De Graef, Pieter (1); Blondé, Bruno (1)

Affiliation: 1: University of Antwerp, Belgium

Title: Transport improvements between city and countryside, Middle Ages-19th century

"From the middle ages to the nineteenth century, considerable improvements to water transport (canals) and road transport (paved roads) together with the gradual adoption of railway transport favoured interurban traffic and market integration, thereby not only facilitating industrial produce (cf. importance of transport innovations for the Industrial Revolution), but also impacting flows between town and countryside. Agricultural production could reach urban markets cheaper and faster, whereas towns should be able to distribute their own commodities into their hinterlands far more easily.
However, it remains unclear to what extent transport innovations exerted influence on rural societies in general and on their production strategies in particular. Many questions remain unanswered:
- It was demonstrated that cities connected to new transportation networks were able to enlarge their agricultural hinterlands, but what was the impact of new networks on rural villages either nearby or remote from transport arteries? Did access to transport facilities stimulated or even instigated market oriented farm production?
- Better and faster transport implies lower transportation/transaction costs. Did it also affect price formation of agricultural produce in general? Were intermediaries (shippers, transporters, railway companies) between city and countryside making profit out of the reduction of transportation costs by enlarging their profit margins, hence counteracting the influence of lower transaction costs on the price of goods?
- New transport networks often involves the introduction of new transport means that were adjusted to the new circumstances. Large farmers often provided transport services for smallholding families without horses and wagons. Did these large farmers invest in new carts and wagons that were able to deal with the stone slab paved roads and hence initiate a ‘transport revolution from below’ (cf. F. Bergenfeldt, M. Olsson and P. Svensson)?
- Transport improvements not only influenced the supply flows from hinterland to cities, but also flows running the other way round: were towns and cities connected to new transport networks better able to get their commodities sold and dispersed? Did these urban commodities end up deeper into the agricultural hinterland?
In the light of the aforementioned questions, we invite papers that examine transport innovations and their influences on city-countryside relations. We are convinced that the presentations and fruitful discussions will result in a better understanding of the role of transport for rural developments."



Chair: Bruno Blandé, University of Antwerp, Belgium

Paper 1: Wheat, silk and finally, wine. Transport improvements and their influence on the agrarian transformation of a Spanish rural town

Daniel Muñoz-Navarro, Daniel, University of Valencia, Spain

Paper 2: Profiting from Public Works: Financial Returns and Investor Motives in Britain’s Infrastructure Sector during Industrialization

Dan Bogart, University of California, Irvine, U.S.A.

Paper 3: The fruits of better roads and waterways: facilitating fertiliser improvement through transport innovations (case study: Flemish Husbandry, 18th century) [+]

Pieter De Graef, University of Antwerp, Belgium

Paper 4: The advent of the railway in the Pyrenees

Jean-Claude Bosc, independent researcher, France


Suggested deadline for sending completed papers 31 july 2015

© 2014 Rural History 2015