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18 September 2014
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Victorian Britain

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The State, Education and Health: Go Further


The Evolution of the Welfare State: A History of Social Policy since the Industrial Revolution by Derek Fraser (Macmillan, 1984). A very useful introductory survey of the main aspects of 'government growth'.

The Evolution of British Social Policy and the Welfare State, c.1800-1993 by Keith Laybourn (Keele University Press, 1995). A wide-ranging survey, especially useful for the perspective of the labouring classes.

Modern Britain: A Social History, 1750-1987 by Edward Royle (Arnold, 1997). Puts the role of government into a clear social context and looks at big themes over long periods of time. It also has an excellent bibliography.

The Foundations of the Welfare State by Pat Thane (Longman, 1982). The focus here is on the late 19th and 20th centuries. There are some documentary sources to accompany the historical discussion.

The Emergence of Welfare States by Douglas Ashford (Blackwell, 1986). A more advanced text, which links development in the growth of government to its political and theoretical underpinnings.


The National Archives: A wide selection of sources, which chart the development of the industrial revolution and Victorian working life.

Monuments and Dust: The Culture of Victorian London: One of the most interesting websites devoted to Victorian London.

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Places to visit

You can still find a number of examples of the key institutions referred to in this section. Some Poor Law workhouses survive, though most have undergone several changes of use. Some, for example, became local government offices. Others, ironically enough, have been converted into luxury flats or town houses.

Similarly, a few of the National Schools founded by the Church of England, and the Board Schools that came into being after the 1870 Education Act, are still with us. Look for the stone-carved 'National School' on the fronts of buildings.

Published: 04-11-2004

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