How useful is the 1851 census in arriving at an accurate understanding of Dartford High Street in the mid-nineteenth century - Assignment Example

The 1851 tells us what jobs people did and how many people did them. For example the information tells us that 30% of all the men in Dartford were shopkeepers. Also the census is quite reliable as every house in Dartford was covered and the information was collected by neutral officials so there was little chance of bias. However, the Census cannot tell us exactly what the high street was like; it can only partially tell us what it was used for. For example it can’t tell us anything about the town’s appearance. The Census covered every house, but some people might not have been in, and so people may have been missed from the. Also people may have been scared of telling the truth to government officials so they may have lied.

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How useful are the existing buildings in arriving at an accurate understanding of Dartford High Street in the mid-nineteenth century?

In the High Street there are three main architectural styles; Victorian, Georgian and Tudor. Most of the buildings are Georgian, this shows that the last major redevelopment of the town was done in the Georgian era. The existing buildings can give us a good idea of what the town may have looked like in the 1800s, and even earlier. Also it can tell us what the High Street was used for, as most of the remaining buildings are still used for the same purpose as in the 19th century. Also the buildings show us links between Dartford’s previous uses and its current uses.

For example, the Bull &Victoria hotel would’ve been used as a coaching inn; we know this because the entrance was big enough for a coach to stop in. However, we can see that the entrance has been modified. However the functions of the town, such as industry are not made entirely clear by the existing buildings. Also, the buildings are hard to date (with the exception of one bell corner) and as one building is a sympathetic build (boots) this raises the question asking whether we can trust that some of the buildings are from the era that their architecture suggests.

How useful is Dunkin’s History of Dartford in arriving at an accurate understanding of Dartford High Street in the mid nineteenth century?

Dunkins History of Dartford gives us details of specific areas of the High street “opposite Hythe Street”. It directly refers to shops and inns “abounding with handsome shops”, “the Bull or Victoria Hotel”. This shows us the functions of the town. He was a historian and therefore knows how to carry out thorough research. Also, the writer lives in Dartford so he knows what he is talking about.

As he lives in Dartford he might be biased towards Dartford and make the town seem more prosperous than it actually is. We can see from the content of the article that he is one-sided “handsome and wealthy town”, “very respectable tradesmen”. As well as this, his intended audience, wealthy middle -class people will not want to hear about a dirty dilapidated town. They will want to think that they are living in, or travelling through, a picturesque and historic town with booming business.

How useful is the Report of General Board of Health in arriving at an accurate understanding of Dartford High Street in the mid nineteenth century?

The Report of the General Board of Health is completely contradictory to Dunkins History of Dartford. It tells us that the town was dirty and messy “an open ditch, manure heap”. The source was written for the government and is therefore unlikely to be biased. It tells us that other sources may have been wrong to suggest that Dartford was such a prosperous town. It might be telling us what live was actually like for most people.

However it tells us nothing of the appearance or architectural style of the town. It also tells us nothing of the functions of the town. It refers more to the alleys of the street rather than the High street itself “Bullace lane contains an open ditch”. Also, it only reports on Bullace lane and Clark’s Alley. These might be the worst two areas of the town. The officials may have been selective because they were trying to encourage the council to clean up their town.

How useful is the Engraving of Dartford in arriving at an accurate understanding of Dartford High Street in the mid nineteenth century?

The engraving gives us a view of the High Street in the nineteenth century as it was made in 1860. It shows that it had lots of different architectural with Tudor, Georgian and even early Victorian styles. It shows prosperity and wealth, therefore agreeing with Dunkin’s History of Dartford. It obviously gives us a clear idea of the appearance of the town. However we can look closer and see the shops and get an idea of the functions of the town.

However it is not all that clear on functions as it is quite difficult to tell what there is in the street as the engraving is not very clear. As well as this, we don’t know who did the engraving so we don’t know if the had any motives. However we could assume that the engraving is trying to make Dartford look better than it really is because the people that would mostly buy these engravings are interested in quaint, picturesque and historic towns.

How useful is Peter Boreham’s account in arriving at an accurate understanding of Dartford High Street in the mid nineteenth century?

Peter Boreham’s account of Dartford is a detailed analysis of Dartford in the mid nineteenth century. It a very useful source as it balanced and comes to an unbiased conclusion about Dartford in the mid nineteenth century. The account is a secondary source. This means he will have had access to all the sources that I have used. Therefore he will have taken different bits of information from each of them. This shows in his account. He mentions shops like source A. However he says something different. He says that the shop windows “were tightly packed”, whereas John Dunkin says “goods tastefully displayed”. This shows that Boreham has used the source. Boreham also mentions the general living conditions of Dartford in the early 1800s “Dartford was a dirty, dilapidated and rather squalid town.”

This links to source B (although not quite as bad) and shows that Boreham has used this source to help him to produce his account. It also mentions the fact that Dartford was a coaching town and it had a lot of Inns and Hotels “there were at least ten public houses”. This shows that Boreham has used source C in producing his account. The account is written for schoolchildren so it must be factual. However it actually says in the information about the source that the source is not very comprehensive as it is made for schoolchildren. Also it doesn’t use the census which is a key source in establishing the functions of Dartford High Street. As well as this it is produced for Dartford Borough Council so might be slightly biased as they won’t want to have something that makes Dartford look really bad.

The Source is written by a historian so he will know how to collect and put together different sources and bits of information. Also he was assisted in writing the account by Museum and library staff, these are local people that will know a lot about Dartford and its history. As I mentioned before the source will use a wide variety primary sources from the time and use the information from theses sources to come to an accurate conclusion about the time.

However the account is a secondary source and therefore was not written at the time. Also the writer is not an eye witness. This will impose limitations on the source as it has to rely on other sources for information and these sources will each have their own limitations that he will have to identify and make sure he can find another source that fulfils the requirements that one source doesn’t.

What was Dartford High Street like in the mid nineteenth Century?

In the mid nineteenth century Dartford went through a massive period of change, from a market town to an industrial area full of prosperity and wealth. Dartford in the early nineteenth century was a small Market town with a population of 2,406. Its main business was the coaching industry. Most of the existing buildings are/were Inns, Hotels or Pubs.

After this Dartford started to change; it gained unprecedented wealth and became an extremely prosperous town. This was mainly due to the change from being a market town to an industrial town. The business of coaching also declined when the railways were introduced in 1849. This led to Dartford becoming more popular and by 1901 the population of Dartford had grown to 18,643.

However, some things stayed the same. There was still big business for tradesmen and shopkeepers. Also stagecoaches still passed through the town quite frequently although not as frequently as they used to. This meant that there was still big business for Hotels, Inns and Pubs. This meant that many of the buildings, such as the Wat Tyler Inn and The Bull & Victoria Hotel, still remained.

There were many different sources used. Dunkin’s history of Dartford was useful in telling me the functions and appearance of Dartford; however it was very one-sided and therefore unreliable. The 1851 census was a very useful source as it told me the different functions of Dartford. I t was quite reliable as it was produced for the government, by neutral officials. Peter Boreham’s account of Dartford was the only secondary source used. It was probably the most useful source of all as it referred to the functions and appearance of the town. However it may have been slightly biased as it was produced for Dartford borough council and may have been slightly biased towards Dartford

The nineteenth century was a period of change for the whole of England. Dartford was not the only town that became prosperous and wealthy. However the rest of the country was industrialised in different ways. In the rest of Kent the industrial revolution had not really started yet, so Dartford was ahead of its time. However in the North it was in full swing, especially in Manchester and Liverpool. However they were not involved in the same industries as Dartford. The main industries in the north were coal mining, Ironmongery and ship building. However Dartford’s industries were mainly the pharmaceutical industry and the paper-making industry. Dartford was atypical of the rest of the country at that time.