The first generation of self-propelled road vehicles had had its roots in the Industrial Revolution, in the sense that they, like the stage coaches, responded to an increase in travel that had resulted from booming commerce, and had been facilitated by better roads. Indirectly, the second generation sprang from the same origins. The expanding cities of the Industrial Revolution needed to be fed, as did a growing population of draught animals; yet the rural labour pool, whose job it was to produce the nation’s food, was shrinking. Scientific improvements in land use, which had been spreading since the later 18th century, had boosted food production, but this “high” or intensive farming exacerbated the food shortage, for it demanded more workers than did traditional farming methods. From the middle of the 19th century the number of farm workers fell, and the proportion of the national labour force occupied on the land dropped more sharply still.1 Attracted by better employment prospects and higher wages, farm workers emigrated either abroad or to the industrial towns, where they added to the mouths to be fed.
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- A New Generation from New Roots, 1842–61
T. R. Nicholson
- Palgrave Macmillan UK
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