Studies in Capital Formation in the United Kingdom 1750-1920

Feinstein, Charles H.
Pollard, Sidney
Date published: 
March 1988

Capital formation plays a large part in any evaluation of economic growth and decline. In recent years the provision of capital in the British industrial revolution has received renewed attention. This interest arises out of attempts to trace the course and explain the progress of the pioneer industrializing country; to assess the reasons for Britain's subsequent loss of economic pre-eminence; and to explain the process of industrialization in a general way, in particular on behalf of countries which are in the midst of this process toda y. The debate has been largely theoretical because of the lack of reliable data for the period prior to 1850, and up-to-date estimates for the period thereafter. This book seeks to remedy this lack. Part I, based largely on archival and other primary sources, contains detailed studies of the amount of capital invested in the main sectors of the economy (coal mining, agriculture, textiles, roads and waterways) from 1750-1850. Part II provides for the first time a comprehensive set of estimates compiled on a consistent basis for the entire period from 1750-1920. It thus provides the foundation for a full study of capital accumulation in Britain from the industrial revolution to the First World War.