In What Ways and Why Can Britain Be Said to Have Suffered an Industrial Depression After 1873?

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During the period of 1850 to 1873, the British economy experienced what has been called the 'mid-Victorian boom.' The economy grew, on average, by 3% every year. Prime examples of this growth include Britain's export industries such as coal and textiles thriving and the amount of railway track built increasing significantly. However from 1873, the British economy began to slow down. Unemployment rose. Before the 'Long Depression,' unemployment was a mere 1%. By 1879 it had risen to 11.4% and was still over 10% in 1886, the year of the Home Rule crisis. So it would appear that Britain was suffering from an industrial depression. In this essay I will analyse the extent to which Britain had an industrial depression after the year 1873, the ways this event ultimately materialised and why. During the mid-Victorian boom, Britain's export performance was greatly aided by the policy of free trade which was adopted by most economically developed countries at the time. After 1873, however, many European countries and the USA abandoned free trade and began imposing taxes on imported goods called tariffs. This resulted in domestic goods in other countries being effectively cheaper than the imported British goods meaning that foreign firms were less inclined to import goods. For example, Italy abandoned free trade in 1878, followed by Germany in 1879, France in 1882 and finally the USA in 1883. The onset of economic protectionism made it increasingly difficult for Britain to export goods to these countries. Therefore, in the years following 1873, Britain could be said to have had an industrial depression due to the abandonment of free trade economic policy by many of Britain's key trade partners at the time. This made it much harder for Britain to export to other countries and so an industry they had depended on for such a long time had gone into serious decline. In

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