How people worked

Our economic history

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As described in the tab 'How people lived', many of the inhabitants were employed on the land.  In addition to agriculture, there were a number of tradespeople working in each town and village, and they made the basic requirements of daily life. Until the middle of the nineteenth century there were relatively few shops: not many people had enough disposable income  to 'go shopping', as we would now describe it, and those who did would often send to London for their requirements. Although this changed as industrial production and improving transport made goods more freely available, by no means everyone could afford what was on offer: Stephen Beeson's ironmongery and 'homewares' shop in Church Street, Rickmansworth from about 1870 seems likely to have been one of the earliest such establishments in this area. 

Most people worked within walking distance of where they lived - 'commuting' had to wait until the arrival of the railway. Even tradesmen such as masons and specialists such as waggoners had relatively small radii of action.