The Edwardian era or Edwardian period of British history spanned the reign of King Edward VII, 1901 to 1910, is sometimes extended to the start of the First World War. The death of Queen Victoria in January 1901 marked the end of the Victorian era, her son and successor, Edward VII, was the leader of a fashionable elite that set a style influenced by the art and fashions of continental Europe. Samuel Hynes described the Edwardian era as a "leisurely time when women wore picture hats and did not vote, when the rich were not ashamed to live conspicuously, the sun never set on the British flag."The Liberals returned to power in 1906 and made significant reforms. Below the upper class, the era was marked by significant shifts in politics among sections of society, excluded from power, such as labourers and the industrial working class. Women started to play more of a role in politics; the Edwardian period is sometimes portrayed as a romantic golden age of long summer afternoons and garden parties, basking in a sun that never sets on the British Empire.
This perception was created in the 1920s and by those who remembered the Edwardian age with nostalgia, looking back to their childhoods across the abyss of the Great War. The Edwardian age was seen as a mediocre period of pleasure between the great achievements of the preceding Victorian age and the catastrophe of the following war. Recent assessments emphasise the great differences between the wealthy and the poor during this period and describe the age as heralding great changes in political and social life. Historian Lawrence James has argued that the leaders felt threatened by rival powers such as Germany and the United States; the sudden arrival of world war in summer 1914 was unexpected, except for the Royal Navy, because it had been prepared and ready for war. There was a growing political awareness among the working class, leading to a rise in trade unions, the Labour movement and demands for better working conditions; the aristocracy remained in control of top government offices. The Conservatives – at the time called "Unionists" – were the dominant political party from the 1890s until 1906.
The party had many strengths, appealing to voters supportive of imperialism, the Church of England, a powerful Royal Navy, traditional hierarchical society. There was a powerful leadership base in the landed aristocracy and landed gentry in rural England, plus strong support from the Church of England and military interests. Historians have used election returns to demonstrate that Conservatives did well in working-class districts, they had an appeal as well to the better-off element of traditional working-class Britons in the larger cities. In rural areas, the national headquarters made effective use of paid traveling lecturers, with pamphlets and lantern slides, who were able to communicate with rural voters – the newly enfranchised agricultural workers. In the first years of the twentieth century, the Conservative government, with Arthur Balfour as Prime Minister, had numerous successes in foreign policy and education, as well as solutions for the issues of alcohol licensing and land ownership for the tenant farmers of Ireland.
The weaknesses were accumulating, proved so overwhelming in 1906 that they did not return to complete power until 1922. The Conservative Party was losing its drive and enthusiasm after the retirement of the charismatic Joseph Chamberlain. There was a bitter split on "tariff reform", that drove many of the free traders over to the Liberal camp. Tariff reform was a losing issue. Conservative support weakened among the top tier of the working-class and lower middle-class, there was dissatisfaction among the intellectuals; the 1906 general election was a landslide victory for the Liberal Party, which saw its total vote share increase by 25%, while the Conservative total vote held steady. The Liberal Party lacked a unified ideological base in 1906, it contained numerous contradictory and hostile factions, such as imperialists and supporters of the Boers. Non-Conformist Dissenters – Protestants outside the Anglican fold – were a powerful element, dedicated to opposing the established church in terms of education and taxation.
However, the Dissenters were losing support and played a lesser and lesser role in party affairs after 1900. The Party, furthermore included Catholics including the notable Catholic intellectual Hilaire Belloc who sat as a Liberal MP between 1906-10, they included secularists from the labour movement. The middle-class business and intellectual communities were strongholds, although some old aristocratic families played important roles as well; the working-class element was moving toward the newly emerging Labour Party. One uniting element was widespread agreement on the use of politics and Parliament as a device to upgrade and improve society and to reform politics; the Labour Party was emerging from the growing trade union movement after 1890. In 1903 it entered the Gladstone–MacDonald pact with the Liberals, allowing for cross-party support in elections, the emergence of a small Labour contingent in Parliament, it was a temporary arrangement until the 1920s, when the Labour Party was strong enough to act on its own, the Liberals were in an irreversible decline.
Subtle social changes in the working-class were producing a younger generation t
The Crofters Holdings Act 1886 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that created legal definitions of crofting parish and crofter, granted security of land tenure to crofters and produced the first Crofters Commission, a land court which ruled on disputes between landlords and crofters. The same court ruled on whether parishes were not crofting parishes. In many respects the Act was modelled on the Irish Land Acts of 1870 and 1881. By granting the crofters security of tenure, the Act put an end to the Highland Clearances; the Act was a result of crofters' agitation which had become well organised and persistent in Skye and of growing support, throughout the Highlands, for the Crofters Party, which had gained five members of parliament in the general election of 1885. Agitation took the form of rent strikes and occupying land which the landlords had reserved for hunting or sheep; the Act itself did not quell the agitation. In particular it was weak in terms of enabling the Crofters Commission to resolve disputes about access to land.
It was enough however to make much more acceptable, the use of troops in confrontations with agitators. The Act was not effective in increasing the equality of land distribution in Scotland. By the year 2000, two-thirds of Scotland's land area was still owned by only 1 252 landowners out of a population of 5 million. During the Highland Clearances, the crofters had no official rights to the land; the Land Wars commenced in Scotland in 1874 with the successful legal case of the Bernera Riot on the island of Great Bernera in the Outer Hebrides. The crofters wanted recognition of their traditional rights to the land that they had enjoyed under the clan system from the Middle Ages. Through political and economic development the gentry began to take an alternate perspective on their tenantry: The cultural force of dùthchas was pervasive in Gaeldom and was central to the social cohesion of the clan because it articulated the expectations of the masses that the ruling family had the responsibility to act as their protectors and guarantee secure possession of land in return for allegiance, military service and rental.
It was a powerful and enduring belief which lived on long after the military rationale of clanship itself had disappeared and tribal chiefs had shed their ancient responsibilities and become commercial landlords. Land agitation in Scotland began because of the "Home Rule" movement in Ireland and information and opinions of this movement brought by fishermen to the Outer Hebrides. Believing that they were the rightful owners of the land, crofters used rent strikes and what came to be known as land raids: crofter occupations of land to which crofters believed they should have access for common grazing or for new crofts, but which landlords had given over to sheep farming and hunting parks; the strife grew more intense. From time to time there were open riots. In 1884 suffrage was extended to men paying £ 10 in rent annually; this included many Highland crofters. At a political level the crofters wanted legal rights, so the Comunn Gàidhealach Ath-Leasachadh an Fhearainn was established in 1885 in London.
The Crofters' Party was established and elected five MPs in 1885. Is Treasa Tuath na Tighearna was their best-known slogan; the government feared. The Napier Commission interviewed crofters all over the Gàidhealtachd and made careful study of the crofters' position, publishing its report in 1884. William Gladstone tried to pass a new law granting crofters more rights, but it was voted down in May 1885. Gladstone left his post in 1885 but the other parties created a new government. Gladstone returned to power in January 1886, the act was passed 25 June 1886. For the first time in Scottish history, the Crofting Act of 1886 affirmed the rights of crofters to their land, it granted a legal status to crofting towns. The Act dealt with the following points especially: It gave security of tenure to the crofters, as long as they worked the croft and paid the rent. Crofters had the right to pass down their croft to their descendants. Crofters had the right to be paid for land improvements, such as erecting fences and drainage A standard of reasonable rent was established and required.
The first Crofters' Commission was established. Crofters had the opportunity to reassess the rent with the Crofters' Commission; the Act specified eight counties of Scotland as counties where parishes might be recognised as crofting parishes: Argyll, Cromarty, Orkney, Ross and Sutherland. Within these counties a crofting parish was a parish where there were year-by-year tenants of land who were paying less than £30 a year in rent and who had possessed effective common grazing rights during the 80 years since 24 June 1806; the Crofters' Commission was in charge of establishing fair rent and reevaluating rents every seven years. If crofters believed that the rent was too high they had the opportunity to go to the commission. Quite the rents were lowered or removed, if the crofters had been paying too much; the Commission had the power to reform the Act and establish other Acts, as well as grant green land to crofters in order to enlarge small crofts. There were different opinions about the Act. On the one hand crofters complained that th
Peter James FRPS was a British archivist and curator of photography, at Birmingham Central Library. He curated photographic exhibitions internationally and served as chair of the Committee of National Photography Collections, as well as receiving the Royal Photographic Society's Colin Ford Award. James' interest in photography was kindled when he worked for Kodak in Harrow in the 1970s, visited their Kodak Museum during his lunch breaks. After obtaining a BA in Humanities and Art History from the Polytechnic of Wales in 1987, James arrived in Birmingham in 1986 to study the History of Photography, Art & Design at Birmingham Polytechnic for his MA, which he received in 1989, he was Curator of Photography Collections – a post created for him – at Birmingham Central Library from January 1989 to October 2015. His work there resulted in the library's photography collection becoming one of the United Kingdom's National Collections of Photography. In 2015, Birmingham City Council made drastic cuts to the Library of Birmingham's funding, in October that year and the entire photography department team were made redundant.
James curated photographic exhibitions in Birmingham, at the Libraries where he worked, at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, at Ikon Gallery. He served as chair of the Committee of National Photography Collections, he was an Accredited Senior in Imaging in the Creative Industries and a double Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, received the Royal Photographic Society's Colin Ford Award, given in recognition of a major contribution to photographic history, in 2009. He was a co-founder of the independent arts organisation GRAIN, which aims to support and develop artists working in photography. James died on 11 March 2018, aged 60, after suffering from a liver condition, he was survived by two children. For some years, he had been researching George Shaw, the first photographer to operate in Birmingham, his paper on Shaw was published posthumously, in the Royal Photographic Society journal Photo-Historian. Coming to Light - Birmingham's Photographic Collections. Birmingham Libraries and Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery.
1998. ISBN 978-0709302285. OCLC 43202389. With Upton, Chris. A World City – Birmingham. Birmingham: Birmingham City Council Department of Leisure. ISBN 0709302436. Profile at the Photography and the Archive Research Centre Interview with James, 2013 Memorial blog post by the Library of Birmingham Archives team, 2019