Scotlands History

Employment

Agricultural improvement in the Highlands led to the creation of huge sheep farms between 1760 and 1850: this was the Highland Clearances. There was also famine as the potato crops failed between 1845 and 1847. As a result, there was mass emigration of displaced tenants, especially to North America.  Thousands joined Highland regiments of the British Army, and others migrated to the new industrial centres of the south.

Despite the rapid growth of these centres, and the immense problems of bad health and inadequate housing, there were huge opportunities for work in textiles and clothing, mining, engineering and shipbuilding, transport infrastructure and civic improvements.

The Industrial Revolution absorbed a gigantic workforce from all over Scotland (and Ireland). Initially paid low wages, and in constant fear of sickness or unemployment, the various crafts and trades had begun to form powerful trade councils by the1880s. A Scottish Trades Union Congress was formed in 1887 to deal specifically with Scottish labour issues.

  • Old photograph of the Saltmarket from Bridgegate

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