19th Century

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The improvements to public highways and waterways in the 18th century had enabled easier movement of both goods and people within the County of Norfolk but Sprowston and many rural areas still depended largely on Agriculture. The Industrial Revolution was to have a considerable effect on both Sprowston and the City of Norwich in the 19th century.

The innovations and production of agricultural machinery powered by both horse and steam made many agricultural workers jobless, many of the jobs left being of the seasonal nature. In this way the lives of the inhabitants changed greatly except perhaps for the Lord of the Manor who still held the land but employed far less people.

Until this time the inhabitants of Sprowston had been agricultural workers growing food or producing goods that would be sent to markets in Norwich. As in Old Catton, Sprowston had several hand loom weavers once again producing cloth for trading in the city. By the middle of the 19th century this way of life was doomed as many commodities started being produced in purpose-built factories within the city which was then on a navigable waterway. This method of transport paled into insignificance with the arrival of the railways soon making the import and export of materials and goods far cheaper. This change in emphasis to rail transport made the turnpikes commercially unworkable so gradually responsibility for roads was transferred to County Boards and later county councils. The industrial age had truly been born.

Being adjacent to the City of Norwich, Sprowston rapidly developed into a dormitory area, although food production was still a relevant to the local economy providing ever increasing amounts to the burgeoning population of Norwich. It was not only this but for a city to grow bricks are something of a necessity and here both Sprowston and Old Catton were fortunate in having a supply of brickearth making brick production a considerable employer of local labour. Towards the latter part of the 19th century, men were able to work for companies like Colman`s Mustard, Barnards, Boulton & Paul and Laurence Scott Electromotors, all based in the City of Norwich.