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Vitriol in the Taff: River pollution, industrial waste, and the politics of control in late nineteenth-century rural Wales

Waddington, Keir ORCID: 2018. Vitriol in the Taff: River pollution, industrial waste, and the politics of control in late nineteenth-century rural Wales. Rural History 29 (1) , pp. 23-44. 10.1017/S0956793317000164

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Claims that rural communities and rural authorities in Wales were backwards conceal not only growing sensitivity to industrial river pollution, but also their active efforts to regulate the region’s rivers. This article uses evidence from South Wales to explore rural responses to industrial river pollution and to provide the micro-contextualization essential for understanding how environmental nuisances were tackled around sites of pollution. Efforts to limit industrial effluent at both local and regional levels highlight strategies of control, the difficulties of intervention at the boundaries of authorities, and how rural authorities were not always peripheral to an urban metropole. This lack of passivity challenges the idea that river pollution interventions merely displaced rather than confronted the problem of pollution, providing insights into how rural authorities worked, and into how those living in rural communities turned to them to clean-up their environment.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Additional Information: This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher: Cambridge University Press (CUP)
ISSN: 0956-7933
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 19 September 2017
Date of Acceptance: 16 September 2017
Last Modified: 04 May 2023 22:33

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