The British state and the natural environment: with special reference to the Alkali Inspectorate, circa 1860-1906

  • Christine Garwood

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The central intention of this thesis is to analyse a body of Victorian legislation, which was enacted to control atmospheric pollution by the chemical industry. Its concern is predominately with enforcement, and the principal aim is to assess the role and effectiveness of the British State and its agencies in this respect. The major focus is a somewhat neglected body of legislation - the Alkali Acts of 1863-1906. These initiated the State regulation of noxious emissions from the early heavy chemical (alkali) industry, and set up a central government body, the Alkali Inspectorate, to this end. The major focus is the ability of Victorian institutions to formulate and implement environmental reforms, especially those which necessitated the increased control of industrial behaviour. It will explore the enforcement and decision making processes, assessing how priorities were set and whose interests were served. Furthermore, it examines the influence of economic, legislative, social, ideological and political factors upon inspection and prosecution. This study also assess whether the control of industrial atmospheric pollution was the consequence of a Victorian regulationist fervour or an example of utilitarian concern with environmental degradation. The main body of the thesis is constituted by chapters on biography, the fiscal context and enforcement. These themes are drawn together by an assessment of the extent and effect of various constraints upon the Alkali Inspectorate. Throughout, some vital comparisons and contrasts with the inspectorates of factories and mines are made, in order to gauge State support for the Alkali Inspectorate. This assessment of the effectiveness of the Alkali Inspectorate and the legislation which created it, facilitates broader insights into the relationship between the State and industry and the extent of State intervention in nineteenth-century Britain
    Date of Award1998
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Northampton
    • University of Leicester
    SupervisorPeter W J Bartrip (Supervisor)

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