The Central Region comprises the whole of Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire, most of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, and part of Gloucestershire, Huntingdonshire, and Wiltshire. From one point of view it is the most unsatisfactory of Fawcett’s regions, for, more obviously than any other, it has no natural regional centre. Northampton, its largest town, could not be regarded as performing any gravitational function for the Upper Thames basin, still less for parts of Wiltshire; and Oxford, which was the most central of the other towns, in spite of its national importance as a university town was too small to count as a focus for economic activity beyond a limited area. Nevertheless, there was a good deal in common between most parts of this region. Essentially, it was an agricultural zone between London, the national metropolis, and the ports and industry of the North and West. The most important single non-agricultural industry was long-distance transport, and the fortunes of many of the towns were closely linked to changesin the system of communication. Reading, Bletchley, Wolverton, Peterborough and above all Swindon were important railway centres; and Oxford would have had Swindows engine works if the university had not in the 1860s successfully resisted a proposal to build them there.1


Agricultural Labourer Liberal Party Social Geography Election Village Market Town 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    R. Fasnacht, History of the City of Oxford (Oxford, 1954), p. 202.Google Scholar
  2. 1.
    J. M. Falkner, History of Oxfordshire (1899), pp. 305–7.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Harriet, Lady Wantage, Lord Wantage (1907), p. 444.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    A. R. Stedman, Marlborough and the Upper Kennet Valley (Marlborough, 1960), p. 363.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    J. T. Coppock, ‘Agricultural Change in the Chilterns, 1875–1900’, Agricultural History Review, ix (1961), 12.Google Scholar
  6. 2.
    J. Orr, Agriculture in Oxfordshire (Oxford, 1916), p. 39; P.P. (1906), xcvi, 615, 619–21.Google Scholar
  7. 1.
    A. Fox, History of the National Union of Boot and Shoe Operatives (Oxford, 1958), pp. 356–7.Google Scholar
  8. 2.
    For Bradlaugh, see H. B. Bonner, Charles Bradlaugh (1894)Google Scholar
  9. W. L. Arnstein, The Bradlaugh Case (Oxford, 1965). There is little reason to suppose that secularism was particularly widespread in the town, however. On this, see the views of the Vicar of St. Edward’s, Northampton, Official Yearbook of the Church of England (1887), p. 39.Google Scholar
  10. 1.
    A. L. Bowley and A. R. Burnett-Hurst, Livelihood and Poverty (1915), p. 168. Contrast Reading with Northampton, ibid., p. 83.Google Scholar
  11. 4.
    G. R. Marquess of Reading, Rufus Isaacs, First Marquess of Reading (1942), p. 130.Google Scholar
  12. 1.
    For a study of Oxford, see H. Bosanquet (ed.), Social Conditions in Provincial Towns (1912).Google Scholar
  13. 4.
    H. J. Hanham, Elections and Party Management (1959), p. 410.Google Scholar
  14. 2.
    J. Dyer, F. Stygall and J. Dony, The Story of Luton (Luton, 1964), p. 172.Google Scholar
  15. 1.
    A. M. Taylor, Gilletts (Oxford, 1964), pp. 128–9.Google Scholar
  16. 5.
    Herbert, Viscount Samuel, Memoirs (1945), p. 21.Google Scholar
  17. 2.
    J. K. Fowler, Recollections of Old Country Life (1894), p. 167.Google Scholar
  18. 3.
    C. Roth, The Magnificent Rothschilds (1939), p. 219; Manchester Guardian, 10 Jan. 1910.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Henry Pelling 1967

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henry Pelling
    • 1
  1. 1.St. John’s CollegeCambridgeUK

Personalised recommendations