Work 2001

Today the occupations of the villagers of Stowupland have drastically changed from those in the 1850s and 1900s. The 2001 census shows only 18 people employed in agriculture and that the majority of those in work are in manufacturing or wholesale and retail trade.

The numbers of residents involved in education and health and social work are also a lot higher than at any point in the village’s history. This is true of the whole of Britain as we have moved away from heavy industry and agriculture towards more service based occupations. This means that most of the villagers are not working in the village and that they are spending the majority of their time away from the community.

The Commuter

When the railway first arrived in Stowmarket in the 1840s it was primarily seen as a way of visiting new and exciting places and transporting goods all over the country.

The interior of Liverpool Street Station
The interior of Liverpool Street Station
Photo by Christine Matthews
Used under Creative Commons
Today many people use the rail system to travel many miles to work – an idea that would have seemed ludicrous to a visiting Victorian.

Early on a weekday morning the station platform is now filled with people in business suits making their way into London, about 95 miles away or other larger towns and cities.

Those who once would have lived in or near the capital now enjoy living in the country whilst still keeping their city job.

Despite claims made over the past few years that new technology such as the internet would result in more people working from home it does not appear that commuter numbers are falling.

The British really started commuting in the 1950s and 1960s with the rise in car ownership and the increase in the numbers of people able to drive to work or to the nearest train station.

The Happy Commuter?

Some studies suggest that that commuting can affect your psychological wellbeing and health.

Service Industry

Working in the service industry could mean working in a hotel, in a call centre, in insurance, government, tourism, banking and much more. It does not really include people who sell goods as they are offering goods rather than a service.

The UK has moved from agriculture and mining on to manufacturing and finally to a service based structure. More people now work in this area than any other, in Stowupland out of 822 people in employment over half are now employed in the service sector.

A Huge Change

This change began in the 1950s and the rapid effect on a small village such as Stowupland is quite startling. It has changed from a predominantly agricultural community to a population working in services and manufacturing in just over 100 years. This has not happened anywhere in Britain before the 19th and 20th centuries. Someone working in the service sector tends to be office based, with little outside work and a lot of time spent in front of a computer.

Health and Social Work

Health and social work is another product of the last 100 years. There have been doctors and healers since the ancient Greeks, and perhaps before, but there was no real nationwide organisation of facilities until the Victorian period. The Victorians built the first large hospitals as charities that raised their own funds and managed themselves through a board of trustees.


The National Health Service

In 1948 after the horrors of WW2 the labour government set up the NHS so that everyone could have free access to health care. This created a whole new area of work with many new jobs for nurses, doctors and other healthcare professional but also for managers and other office based staff.

Ipswich Hospital, Suffolk
Ipswich Hospital, Suffolk
Photo by Snowmanradio
Used under Creative Commons
The formation of the NHS and other government actions also created the idea of social care. All parishes until the 20th century had to care for their poor through poor relief and the dreaded workhouse but there was no real care or provision for those in vulnerable situations.

Charitable organisations did their best for neglected or abused children, adults with learning difficulties and other people in need of help but they had no real authority. Communities also tended to look after their own problems and to care for each other. The twentieth century saw the gradual breakdown of these close communities and a regulated, government funded network was needed to care for the vulnerable in the community. Now there are many jobs connected to social care in both the government run sector and in the charitable sector.

This exhibition is part of a wider sustainability project delivered through the Rural Museums East Partnership. It is funded by Renaissance East of England.

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