Oxted & District History Society - Talk
Oxted & District History Society

Professor Patrick Alderton, Chairman of the Oxted & District History Society and a specialist in Maritime Economics, gave an illustrated lecture to the Society on ‘Sea Routes to Riches’.

Trade is one of the indications of civilisation. From 5000 BC there were ocean-going boats with trade between places up to 1000 miles apart. Much of the early trade was by the Phoenicians, then by the Minoans, Greeks and Romans. Later trade was dominated by the Byzantines, Vikings, Venice, Genoa and the Hanseatic League. In the 13th Century, Bruges was by far the leading port in Europe, followed by Antwerp in the 15th Century, Amsterdam in the 17th Century and London from the 18th Century.

Between 1000 and 1800 world trade grew up to 15 million tons. As the tonnage increased, the cost of transport per ton went down. Lower costs created more demand. British shipping was supreme in the late 19th Century and early 20th Century. Britain was also the prime source of coal, as important then as oil is today.

The quest for riches was important in driving trade. With considerable demand trade grew from luxury items such as spices and silk to the everyday goods which we now expect from the far corners of the world.

2nd December 2008


Sea Routes to Riches a talk by Professor Patrick Alderton,