Welsh - Economy



Subsistence and Commercial Activities . Since the 1830s, the Welsh economy developed into a bifurcated pattern between the rural uplands and the southern industrial Regions. In the uplands, the Welsh Heartland, and the north, the older self-sufficient agricultural, dairying, and sheepherding way of life was increasingly drawn into the larger Regional and national economic networks. The most important: agricultural products included wheat, barley, oats, dairy Products, beef, mutton, and lamb. Potatoes, poultry, vegetables, and fruits were important for household use and local Markets. In today's urban markets most of these are now supplied by English producers. Most dairy products are produced and marketed locally.

Beginning in the 1840s the Welsh economy increasingly shifted to coal mining, iron and steel production, and tin plating in the industrial south. Since 1950 these have drastically declined and are being replaced by light industry, plastics, and chemical- and electronic-equipment manufacturing. The recent development of the deep-water oil port, refinery, and petrochemical complex at Milford Haven has been the one major change. Slate mining remains important in the north.

Industrial Arts. Up to 1930 every locality had a wide range of local craftsmen such as blacksmiths, tanners, clog makers, coopers, etc. By the 1940s these were declining and by the 1950s they had virtually ceased to exist.

Trade. Today one finds a mixture of traditional shops, open-air markets, supermarkets, shopping centers, large department stores, and weekly farmers' open-air markets.

Division of Labor. In the rural areas women traditionally were in charge of food production, dairying activities, and care of the cattle and poultry, whereas men did the heavier work in the fields, pastures, and hedges. Cooperative Exchanges of labor, farm machinery, and farm laborers were essential. With the commercialization of dairying and poultry raising, women's labor load has increased. Modern machines have almost ended the labor exchanges. Costly machines are cooperatively purchased.

Land Tenure. Western and southern Wales was once a land of minor gentry; elsewhere there were small owneroccupied farms. Today the gentry is gone and the small farms predominate. A heavy turnover of ownership for small holdings is normal.

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