Economic History of Rossendale

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Economic history of Rossendale as a limited edition hardback and only available to order direct from the publisher.


G. H. Tupling’s seminal Economic History of Rossendale (1927) is to be brought back into print. A facsimile of the original, the book will have a new introduction and guide to further reading by Professor Roger Richardson of the University of Winchester (author of many books on early modern England), who like so many historians regards the work as a landmark study.

Tupling (1883-1962) lived and worked in the Rossendale valley for most of his life and wrote this pathfinding study of that region on the basis of intimate firsthand knowledge. In his highly original, probing and well-written examination of the long-lasting dual economy of agriculture and industry there from the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century, he was way ahead of his time in using  fieldwork as well as written sources. This history classic still has much to teach historians today, more than ninety years after it was first published. Copies of the original have long been very difficult and expensive to obtain, so an affordable reprint is long overdue and is sure to be warmly welcomed.

‘This is local history of an altogether new kind’ (Arthur Redford, enthusiastically greeting the book when it was first published in 1927)

‘remains essential reading for economic historians of any county’ (Jenny Kermode)

‘probably the most knowledgeable Lancashire historian who has ever lived’ (Prof J. S. Roskell)

  • Author: G. H. Tupling
  • Binding: hardback (cloth-type cover with goldblocking)
  • Extent: 288 pages
  • Format: 210 x 165mm
  • ISBN: 978-1-910837-36-8
  • Date of Publication: 24 February 2022

2 reviews for Economic History of Rossendale

  1. Heather Falvey

    What is the point, one might ask, of a) reprinting a book first published 95 years ago; b) surely the author’s methodology is outdated; c) haven’t documents since been found that negate his findings; and d) who would be interested anyway?

    In the introduction to this reprint, R.C. Richardson provides the background to the original publication and a brief biography of George Henry Tupling (1883-1962). Although Tupling’s qualifications were all external degrees from the University of London, he became integrated into the academic culture of the Manchester History Department. In 1927 an economic history was innovative: the University of Manchester was the northern powerhouse of this new subject. Tupling’s own preface explains that he originally intended to examine the effect of the Industrial Revolution on Haslingden (Lancashire) where he was history master at the grammar school. However, he soon found that he needed to include the ‘Rossendale valley’. Then, when considering the transition from a domestic woollen to a factory cotton industry, he realised that the domestic industry was based on a long-standing pastoral economy, hence his investigation of the economic activities of the Rossendale area from their beginning.

    When considering the numerous merits of this book, perhaps most striking is the huge range of sources consulted: official publications; printed primary sources published by various learned societies; documents in the Public Record Office in Chancery Lane, in Chetham’s Library and at Clitheroe Castle; and parish registers still held locally; as well as numerous articles and ‘histories’. Richardson contends that Tupling’s work has always, and undeservedly, been overshadowed by the achievements of the Leicester School of English Local History, founded by W.G. Hoskins (1908-1992). Tupling’s work was pioneering in local and regional history but perhaps because he focused on the North-West, rather than the whole field of English local history, he has been side-lined. This reprint will introduce him to current local historians.

    And the answers to the opening questions? a) the scholarship is still very relevant; b) no, it’s not, he just didn’t have access to computers; c) no, they haven’t; and d) anyone with an interest in medieval forests and/or early modern farming and/or industries in the eighteenth to mid-nineteenth centuries.

    Full review written by Dr Heather Falvey and published in The Local Historian, a journal of the British Association for Local History (2022), Vol. 52, No. 4.

  2. Hugh Gault

    Professor Roger Richardson’s introduction to this new edition opens with the statement that, when first published in 1927, The Economic History of Rossendale ‘was recognised as a ground-breaking landmark text’. One contemporary reviewer described it as ‘local history of an altogether new kind’, while Richardson closes his introduction by asserting that ‘today’s historians still have much to learn from it’. In an article for Transactions in 2020, Richardson had described Tupling as a pioneer for regional economic history.

    Although such heady claims made me sceptical, this is a hugely impressive book. It is detailed, thoroughly researched and encompassing and explaining the development of the Rossendale area over three centuries (though in effect since mediaeval times). A modern historian whose interests focus on the last two hundred years might be expected to struggle with a book that ends at the start of this period. I cheerfully admit to the struggle but was never tempted to dismiss it. Nor is there much to dispute for Tupling masters a wide range of sources and deploys the evidence from them convincingly.

    It is very well-indexed by Tupling himself, a boon to the reviewer and researcher alike, and seventeen appendices (A to Q) flesh out Tupling’s arguments (often with the names of the people concerned).

    Part of Richardson’s introduction favourably compares Tupling’s undramatic and detailed research to the self-appointed (and self-promoting) doyen of local history, W. G. Hoskins. This may be necessary to convince some to read the book. It becomes superfluous once you have.

    Full review written by Hugh Gault for Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, vol. 172 (2023).

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