LATE GEORGIAN AND VICTORIAN CHESTER 1762-1914
In the 1760s Chester was still a regional
capital despite the rise of Liverpool and Manchester.
It dominated the economy of the western half of
Cheshire and north-east Wales, and provided a focus
for the leisured classes of a much larger area. (fn. 1) On the
other hand, its traditional manufactures were already
in decline, its maritime trade was as good as dead, and
its politics were completely overshadowed by the
Grosvenors of Eaton Hall. The creation of new institutions of local government in 1757 and 1762 and
repeated but unsuccessful challenges to the Grosvenor
interest from the 1770s were not harbingers of renewed
vitality, but political reform at a national level in the
1830s freed municipal politics from Grosvenor influence and was followed shortly by thirty years of railway-led industrialization and population growth. The
boom faltered after 1870, but Chester was able by 1914
to reposition itself as a county town, historic cathedral
city, and tourist centre which provided a wide range of
shops and other services for a still sizeable hinterland.
||For social and cultural activities in this period, V.C.H. Ches. v (2), esp. Craft Guilds: Activities after 1750; Leisure and Culture, passim.