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21 Pages

The Trading and Service Sectors of the Birmingham Economy ERIC HOPKINS

The term ‘Industrial Revolution’ has been in use in this country for about a hundred years, and still serves as a convenient short-hand expression for the manifold economic and social changes of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Its shortcomings as a comprehensive description of economic change are well known, of course, and even among the initiated its repeated use may still help to emphasise industrial change at the expense of commercial change.1 Yet as industry grew, commercial activity was directed not only to the sale of the increasing flood of manufactured goods, but also to meeting the needs of the expanding urban population, especially the need for housing, foodstuffs, and consumer goods, together with the wide range of professional, cultural, and leisure facilities which characterise urban life.