London began the 20th century as the capital of the world's largest Empire and Britain's dominant city. One third of the entire trade of Great Britain passed through London's docks.

Royal occasions such as the coronation of King Edward VII emphasised London's role as the national capital. But London was also a forcing house for change. The decade saw rising political unrest in the capital as women and working men stepped up their demands to be given the vote. London's local government began a new era as 28 new metropolitan boroughs took over the management of districts in inner London.

London's population, 1901

Greater London: 6,506,889 people
Inner London: 4,536,267 people

London's economy and jobs

London was Britain's largest industrial centre. Roughly five million Londoners had jobs in 1900, 40% of which were in manufacturing or heavy industry. Inner-city districts, such as Clerkenwell and Soho, were riddled with small workshops. Large factories tended to be located on the river to the east of the City. Woolwich Arsenal and Beckton Gasworks were among the largest plants of their type in Europe.

London's largest single source of jobs was the massive docks complex. The workforce was made up of over 20,000 men, plus many more taken on daily as casual labourers. In 1909 the private companies that ran the Docks were brought together in a new public trust, the Port of London Authority. Around a third of London's workforce were women, a higher proportion than nationally, but including over 200,000 women in domestic service.

London events

  • 1900 London's new metropolitan boroughs created
  • 1901 Smallpox epidemic kills over 2,000 Londoners
  • 1901 Funeral of Queen Victoria
  • 1902 Coronation of Edward VII
  • 1908 Olympic Games at White City.

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