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Manufacturing in 2011 for District/Unitary Authority

Manufacturing in 2011 for District/Unitary Authority

Despite Britain's reputation as the 'workshop of the world', manufacturing employed only slightly more people than services in 1841, and by 1881 it employed significantly less. Of course, if we ignore women workers, and especially all the female domestic servants, manufacturing seems larger. It is also true that our 19th century data tend to overstate the size of manufacturing, because many goods were made not in factories but in small workshops behind shops: the same people made the goods at the back and served at the front, but are counted as in 'manufacturing'. This pattern meant, of course, that every major town would have a significant 'manufacturing sector'.

However, in 1841 this meant most districts having 20-30% of the workforce in manufacturing, with some rural areas and seaside resorts dropping to around 12%. A relatively small group of districts had over 50% of their workforces in manufacturing, and mostly in a single dominant industry: textile towns like Blackburn and Oldham, with over 70% in manufacturing; the pottery towns now in Stoke on Trent, with 62%; the shoe-making centre of Leicester, with 56%. Of course, with the exception of London manufacturing was concentrated mainly in the north and midlands.

Such extreme concentration on single industries inevitably meant a poor quality of life, in communities so lacking in services for their populations. As the new industrial towns matured, both the overall proportion in manufacturing and the numbers in their dominant industries declined. The concentration of manufacturing into the north continued up to 1931, but new industrial centres based on consumer goods were growing in the south. Slough, whose population grew from 20,285 in 1921 to 52,590 in 1939, is a classic example. In 1881 it was a rural area, with 13% of its workers in manufacturing, but by 1971 this was 53% -- making the subsequent decline to 16% in 2001 striking evidence of Britain's de-industrialisation.

That decline has not brought poverty to Slough! In modern Britain, the most prosperous areas contain few factories, but this does not mean they are not involved in the manufacture of goods. Instead, they have become centres of management, marketing and research for goods which are physically manufactured somewhere else. That 'somewhere else' may well be outside Britain altogether, maybe in the booming industries of eastern China. If it is in Britain, it will probably be somewhere where the labour is cheaper. One interesting feature of the map of manufacturing in 2011 is its expansion in some of the old mining areas, such as South Wales. Of course, if the 'goods' are, for example, music CDs, we may have a different idea of what 'making it' means, taking more interest in the recording studio than the pressing plant. Much the same is true of IT products and high fashion goods, and the south-east's dominance of IT and fashion is striking.

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The "Statistical atlas" lets you view our British statistical data rates by theme in their entirety as maps for both modern local authorities and historical units.

Please note that although there are some statistics within the system relating to places outside Great Britain, particularly Ireland, the majority of our statistics are British and this is reflected in the presentation of data within the Statistical atlas.

How it works

The Statistical atlas presents national views of rates. This differs from the specific numeric data for individual administrative units presented in the "Units & Statistics" part of the place pages accessed via typing in a place-name on the homepage.

Select a theme by clicking on a theme title. You must then decide whether you wish to view data for modern local authorities or historical units. At the top of the theme page are the links to rate maps for modern units. Select one to enter the atlas. Alternatively, at the bottom of the theme page are links to maps of rates only available in their historical units.

After selecting a rate we are presented with the map page showing the selected rate. On the left hand side is the map legend and some generic subject information about the theme. Below the text is a link to the "Rate definition" which takes you out of the statistical atlas and into the description of the nCube for that theme within the data documentation system.

Beneath this are various "Options" for altering the mapped rate. With the exception of the "Political Life" theme, drop down menus exist to change the mapped rate or to select an alternative unit type. All themes have the option to select alternative dates. Selecting a different date will change the map to display re-districted data i.e. statistics which are estimates for the same (modern) geographical area going back over time. More information on how this was achieved is available here.

The map window on the right can be zoomed and panned. Using the drop down menu at the top left of the map window you can select and add a "base layer" map image beneath the transparent statistical map to help you understand the geography of the rates. The window itself can be expanded to see a bigger map using the "Bigger map" option at the top right of the map window. If this function is enabled, the information given on the left will automatically move to below the map.

About the data

The statistics come from national overviews, including Censuses, Surveys and other collated tables. You should be aware that the same information was not always collected, the questions change over time to suit contemporary conditions. For example, in the 2011 Census English households were asked about their car ownership, but this would have been of little relevance in 1921 when very few people owned their own vehicle. Conversely, the 1951 question about whether your household had shared access or no access to piped water has disappeared because it is now assumed that all, or virtually all, households will have exclusive use of a piped hot water supply. This is why not all themes have data in all years, the dates available vary according to the questions asked.

We should also point out that we have not digitised all possible historical statistics. Although we have gone a significant way to capturing and integrating suitable tables useful for our themes, this is a labour intensive and time-consuming process. We have tried to focus on particular tables to produce runs of data and in this sense the "Population" theme is the fullest. We continue to work on improving the data, both in its consistency and its accuracy as well as its extent.