Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Wheat flows within Britain

Mi has helped me with the data for wheat flows within Britain towards the end of the 19th century. The map shows whether a county was in surplus or deficit. The calculations are for production by county minus consumption within the county. What is left over could be carted and sold to another county. As you can see, the pattern is predictable: the counties in blue had a surplus. These counties are on the arable lands towards the east and south of the country. The areas most in deficit were the sheep raising and also industrialising counties, in red and orange. The country as a whole had a net deficit which was covered by imports from Ireland and also Prussia, and later on, the United States. The point of the map is to show that not much grain moved within Britain by rail. It went by coastal steamer.

Calculating net flows is a useful step in analysing the agricultural structure of a country. We could if we wanted expand the scope to include European countries and North America. Here we had to make an assumption that the per capita consumption of wheat (in the form of bread) was the same across counties. There is evidence for and against that assumption.

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