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From London's Ghost Acres

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The continuous growth of London’s industrial economy and population during the nineteenth century relied increasingly on “ghost acres” located outside of Britain.[1] While the British economy broke free from the long-standing organic restraints on development through an increasing dependence on coal to fuel industrialization, they continued to required large quantities other raw materials. By the second half of the nineteenth century many of the products consumed in London originated overseas. Consumer goods manufactured in factories in the Thames Estuary required raw materials imported from Canada, the United States, Jamaica, Peru, Brazil, Spain, West Africa, India, Ceylon, and New Zealand, among other locations. This historical research explores how the intersections between industry, science, consumer culture, empire, and markets in London transformed numerous environments around the globe through a series of interrelated case studies of London’s factories and their commodity chains.