chapter  12
35 Pages

Change, Policy and Planning since 1918 Martin Bulmer

In a real sense the economic and social problems of north-east England in the period since the First World War are a result of its past economic success as an economic growth area in the nineteenth century, with a prosperity founded on coal, iron and steel, shipbuilding and heavy engineering.1 Structural changes in the national and world economies, and in world markets, were eroding the predominance of these staple industries from 1914 onwards, and regions such as the North-East dependent on these industries suffered particularly severely during the world economic recession of the 1930s.2 The impact of the recession was felt evenly throughout the United Kingdom, but hit the older industrial areas of the north and west of Britain particulary hard.3 One of the prime social consequences of this depression was, of course, massive unemployment in the region throughout the 1930s, concen­ trated particularly in the areas dependent on coal and shipbuilding, described in the two preceding chapters.