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Title: a An examination of the decline of shipbuilding on the North-east coast of England and the west of Scotland during the interwar periods
Authors: Paxton, Bill
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: British shipbuilding, once an iconic industry, faced a period of precarious trading in the years 1918 to 1939 as its decline intensified. This dissertation compares the decline in shipbuilding on the North-East Coast of England and the West of Scotland during the interwar years. Using the records of the British Shipbuilding Database maintained by the School of Marine Science and Technology at Newcastle University and Lloyd’s Register of Shipping, the research has undertaken a firm-by-firm appraisal, an analysis of specialisation and regional comparisons, and differentiation of merchant and naval shipbuilding. This study examines how the shipbuilding industry came to terms with the dilemmas of naval treaties, inflationary pressures, foreign competition, technical changes and industrial action during the interwar period, where little became available by way of government intervention. A detailed appraisal of the shipbuilding tonnage built during the period provides an explanation as to how the industry struggled with overcapacity and a need for major reorganisation. The study conforms to the idea that the decline had already begun prior to the First World War, although during the interwar years this decline merely intensified, as with the other staple industries. Following an evaluation of the industry’s output of both merchant and naval tonnage, the thesis highlights the assistance, or the lack of it, that government provided to support the industry during this parlous period of trading. In seeking to evaluate the government’s response, the Trade Facilities legislation during the 1920s, followed by the British Shipping Assistance Act 1935, receives detailed appraisal. Whilst the shipbuilding industry received little by means of government financial assistance, its own attempt at rationalisation, resulting in the formation of National Shipbuilders Security Limited, was a remedy introduced too late to prevent large-scale losses.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of History, Classics and Archaeology

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