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Norwich Gazette
Monday, January 22nd 1900.

Sunrise: 8:10 AM
Sunset: 4:00 PM
Temperature: 25F

Cloudy and dim, significant windchill. Surface snow 2 inches within city, significant chance of light snowfall. Residents are warned of ice and cold.

A Quick Guide to East Anglia

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A Quick Guide to East Anglia

Post  God on Wed Mar 16, 2016 3:40 pm

As of 1900

Note: Commonly, 'East Anglia' also contains the counties of Cambridgeshire and Essex. However, here it is only the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk.


Demographics.

Population: 850,000 [US modern comparison: South Dakota]
Size: 5,872 square miles [US comparison: Connecticut]
Major Settlements: Norwich [85,000], Ipswich [50,000], Great Yarmouth [45,000], King's Lynn [30,000], Lowestoft [25,000].

Geography.

The region is low-lying and flat, the only hills of note being the chalky 'Newmarket Ridge' on the western edge of Suffolk; though none of these are higher than a hundred metres. Heathland forms a near continuous belt around the coastline, except for the few places [such as Great Yarmouth] where it has been cleared for settlement. On the eastern edge of Norfolk lies The Fens, a large area of marshland drained for agriculture in the 18th century. Between Norwich and Great Yarmouth lie The Broads, a large area of dredged rivers, canals, marshland and sunken peat-workings. Those who have visited the likes of the Netherlands will find the region most familiar.

The region is relatively heavily forested, particularly in parts of Suffolk. However, much of this is managed woodland; originally for fuel and timber, but now more for the aristocratic sports of hunting with hounds and bird-shooting. Most of the agricultural land is taken up by wheat and barley farms, though with some market gardening for the London market and horse-breeding. Much of the area's soils are sandy in nature, meaning poor yields for cash crops.

Economy.

Lacking good ports and mineral wealth, the economy has remained effectively pre-industrial and stagnant. In fact, it is one of the few areas of the nation which de-industrialised during the last century, traditional workshops driven to the wall by the factories in the north. The only industries of note are several breweries, the Navy dockyard at Great Yarmouth and various food processors [canneries for fish, abattoirs and grain milling].

The railway came late to the area [perhaps suspiciously late], but is now well-served for both passengers and freight. This has allowed a tourism industry to develop, fishing villages on the coast have sprouted piers, arcades and hotels; pleasure boating on the Broads is becoming popular. However, it is still at a modest level, mainly due to the fact it doesn't have a nearby large city to draw crowds from. The area around Newmarket is an oasis of wealth; the small town holds one of the premier racetracks in the country, and a cluster of breeders, trainers and associated trades has grown up to serve it.

Climate.

By UK standards, the region is dry and warm. Rarely does it see significant snowfall during winter, and many summers there will be heatwaves and periods of drought. However, the low-lying land and geographic location on the North Sea means the occasional storms hit the area, causing flooding.

Like the rest of the nation, the region enjoys long winter nights [8:00 sunrise, 4:30 sunset, January] and almost critically short ones during summer [5:00 sunrise, 9:30 sunset, June]. Kindred activity generally follows this rhythm; with the majority of ventures and plotting gearing up in September and winding down by April.

Population.

The region is almost wholly made up of native/assimilated whites, with only a few immigrants [mainly Jews from the Russian Empire] settling in the larger urban areas. Most still live in the country or villages; just over half of the population still works in farming, fishing or related occupations. Like the economy, population growth has been flat for at least a generation; as the more ambitious have moved to the larger cities for employment, or emigrated overseas. Country folk are usually suspicious of outsiders, even more so here.

Politics.

The country is not yet a true democracy as accepted today. Yes, there are elections; but only 65% of males can vote, no women can, and many elections are uncontested or a forgone conclusion. Much power still lies in the hands of the unelected hereditary peers; they fill the House of Lords [equivalent of the US Senate], control many parts of government and the current Prime Minister is a Marquess who has never run for office in his life.

In the most recent election [1895], with the exception of a few urban areas that voted Liberal, the vast majority of seats in the region went to the Conservative Party; the group seen by many Britons to be the symbol of all that is right [or wrong] with the country and the natural rulers of the land [aka the party of 'The Establishment'].

While a centralised state, local bodies do have some power. Each city has it's own city or town council, and the villages are grouped into parishes. Both counties have their own council, which look after issues which effect the whole area.

Transport.

While motor vehicles do exist, they are incredibly expensive, unreliable and limited by law not to travel faster than 10 mph [though most could manage speeds up to 25 mph]. They also don't do well on either on cobbles of the older urban streets, macadam [crushed stone] highways or the muddy tracks which are the rest.

Almost all long-range journeys are done by steam train. Every settlement with exception of the very smallest has it's own station, though some may be not much more than a platform and a hut. The service is inexpensive and reliable; though on the branch lines you may need to wait some time for your train. Due to the nature of railways, some destinations will require an indirect route.

Passenger trains are frequent in the evenings, ending around 9PM [branch lines] to 11PM [main lines]. However, it is common knowledge amongst Kindred that night travel on goods trains is possible after paying a tip to the station attendant and engine foreman. Having to sit in the mail carriage is not that comfortable, but is better than nothing.

Most of the larger settlements have a system of horse-drawn buses. While cheap, they are usually crowded and only marginally faster than walking. Most services stop around 9PM, making them of limited use for Kindred. More usable are the fleets of hansom cabs [and similar] available for hire. Faster and operated by drivers familiar with the area, they allow fairly direct travel at a reasonable cost. However, it is almost impossible to find one for hire after midnight.

See Also: A Quick Guide to Norwich

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