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Stage-coach enterprises in Van Diemen's Land and Tasmania

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Walker, S (2016) Stage-coach enterprises in Van Diemen's Land and Tasmania. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

From 1820, increased settler movement into Van Diemen’s Land prompted the
need for improved communications; but small population numbers and high
commercial risk factors discouraged the establishment of inland passenger transport
enterprises. After 1830, population growth near the two main towns, and the colonial
Post Office’s evolving inland communications route structure, encouraged transport
infrastructure and stage-coach enterprise development, as physical and financial
security became more assured.
The financially constrained colonial government, transitioning from penal,
through self-governing colony to federation, was reluctant to operate businesses
where private enterprise might provide the means. Instead, where possible, it
subsidised construction, contracted for services, devolved responsibility to local
communities, and enacted a comprehensive body of legislation to achieve these ends.
Government and stage-coach enterprises alike faced commercial uncertainty
caused by economic depressions, the high cost of capital, a reduction in wages, and
from outflows of free citizens. Adjustment was necessary following the introduction
of steam-powered ferries, the electric telegraph and the railways; population growth
was slow and only the opening of new mines increased the potential passenger
transport market.
The skills required by managers within a convict/free settler society in the face
of such economic, financial, legal, social, and workforce uncertainty and complexity
were considerable. Yet settlers with capital were primarily interested in land
acquisition, and not in service industries. Therefore, stage-coach entrepreneurs were
drawn from a free-settler, lower socio-economic group, or from convict expirees with
limited business skills, and insolvency was a constant risk. Monopoly of both the
route and the logistic support chain was a perceived means towards viability, but was
unpopular with government and the press.
The large numbers of confident and energetic, yet ordinary, men and women
within the stage-coach enterprises, served their communities, and made a considerable
contribution to the island’s social development, inclusion and capital, and to its
economy; yet they are historiographically unnoticed.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Settler-colonialism, transport, economy, business
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2016 the Author

Date Deposited: 07 Nov 2016 02:06
Last Modified: 04 Jan 2017 22:33
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