History DWR Overview


Depression, war and recovery in Wales and England 1930-1951


 The End of the Golden Age

·        Before World War One Britain’s prosperity depended on the sale of heavy industrial goods such as coal and steel.

·        There was an increase in competition from places like the USA and Germany.

·        Expensive British goods could not compete with cheaper imports.

·        Britain’s traditional export markets (New Zealand, Australia, and Canada) were no longer prepared to buy British goods, as they bought US steel, German coal, and Indian cotton.


The Wall Street Crash

·        When the stock markets crashed on October the 24th 1929 it caused a financial crisis and many major banks stopped trading abroad. This led to an economic depression as the US put higher tariffs to stop imports of foreign goods and called in the loans from other countries which spread the Depression across the rest of the world. – ‘When American sneezes, the rest of the world catches it’.


British Economy and Employment

·        As Britain depended on US loans and trade their economy also crashed.

·        Some businesses crashed.

·        Companies made workers redundant.

·        Unemployment rose.

·        Decline in orders.

Impact on British politics and people

·        Ramsey McDonald was elected as Prime Minister in 1929

·        British politicians felt that the economic recovery was better left to businessmen rather than politicians.

·        Labour’s Sir Oswald Mosley called for massive government spending to create jobs and for high tariffs on foreign imports to protect British industry.

·        In 1931 the National Government was set up led by Ramsey McDonald.


Impact on British people

·        The unemployed had no wages and could not buy things

·        The dole or unemployment benefits were not enough to pay rent, feed people and clothe a family.

·        Government responded by cutting costs such as unemployment benefits.

·        The Means tests was introduced in 1931.

·        The usual rate for the dole was 15s (75p) per week for a man and wife and about 5s (25p) for each child.

How did the depression affect people’s lives

·        Unemployment topped to 30 million people in the world (3 million: British, 13 million: American, and 6 million: German).

·        South Wales and north-east of England were the most badly hit as they depended on heavy industries.

·        Coal, cotton, shipbuilding and steel were twice what it was in other forms of employment.

·        Men= bread winners

·        Women= making ends meet

·        Unemployment affected the health (physical and mental) of those who suffered from its effects.

·        Migration occurred from north- east of England and from south Wales to the wealthier and less affected areas of the Midlands and the south-east England.

·        In 1936 King Edward VIII toured Wales to see the poverty caused by the Depression. He


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