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Monmouthshire - Industrialisation

High Street, Newport
High Street, Newport

The rise of management and the middle class

Iuean Gwynedd Jones (Communities: Essays in the Social History of Victorian Wales, Gomer, p.173) writes of the rise of a managerial class in 19th century Monmouthshire works:

'... as the works achieved permanence and as stability came to the valleys and towns so there arose men whose rare and special skills gave them a degree of relative independence. Within the works themselves by the mid-century there was a well-defined managerial class. The mid-century saw the emergence of the general manager, particularly as the works became joint-stock concerns (and the owners tending to live at a distance) and too large for old styles of management to be applied. Under the general manager was a whole gamut of salaried posts: under-managers, mineral surveyors, engineers, draughtsmen, accountants, cashiers, clerks. There were 49 agents in Aberystruth in 1841 and 29 in Bedwellty.'

He notes a parallel professionalisation in the towns (p.173):

'... professional men and shop-keepers, tradesmen, craftsmen and local government officials emerged whose special skills or degree of education or relative wealth weakened the chain of dependence. It is common to call this a middle classs, and maybe it was, and if so a middle class which was itself very stratified. Its social characteristic, by reason of its own hierarchical structure, was to have links with both the masters and with the amorphous body of workmen'


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