City and Region
Economic historians have become increasingly adept at measuring long run changes in key variables such as prices, wages, agricultural output and population size, to explain patterns of growth at a regional and global level. 'Big history' of this kind, however, calls for more than the assembly of raw data, and requires:
- new methods of data sharing
- greater transparency of data, in terms of provenance and units of measurement
- information about the historical and institutional context in which the data was originally collected
- an enhanced awareness of the spatial dimensions of historical change, in relation to site, location, and environment
This site was designed to satisfy some of these requirements. The assembly and interpretation of information about land rents presents special challenges, arising from:
- tenurial changes, involving the gradual disappearance of unfree tenures, and
- changes in the estate system, especially the rise of modern freehold and leasehold tenures
City and Region aims to reconstitute estate histories using an approach common to Digital Humanities – the combination of text and image (principally estate maps and building plans) – to which we have added processed statistical data. Researchers are also able to import raw data, and it is planned to include a full GIS facility which will allow users to generate their own large and small-scale property maps.
The first phase of research, completed in 2009, assembled datasets drawn from the estates of the Rochester Bridge Trust (RBT) and the New College of Cobham (NCC) showing long-run movements in agricultural and urban rents in Kent, Essex and London (Leadenhall Street), and the Medway Towns for the period 1577-1914.
This culminated in a colloquium which discussed and contextualised research in progress on the "strength of the urban variable" in Britain over the past four centuries.
A full report of the first phase of our research can be downloaded here.
The success of this work resulted in a full collaboration with the Rochester Bridge Trust for phase two of the project. This Prezi, delivered in June 2010, demonstrates the direction we envisaged this phase of the project would take.
Research for phase two of the project, culminating in the present website, is complete. Work however is ongoing in improving City and Region as a research tool. These evelopments will be announced via our News page and on Twitter.
Phase three of the research, currently in the planning stages, will involve the development of a modular and fully GIS enabled research platform enabling the user a flexible environment within which to interrogation of rent movements over time.