I am working on a paper for the American Society of Environmental History conference in Madison at the end of this month. The paper examines the global supply chains that fed factories in West Ham with raw materials throughout the nineteenth century. This included sugarcane for the Tate refinery, cinchona bark for making quinine, an antimalarial drug, at Howard & Sons, gutta-percha for making underwater telegraph cables in Silvertown, palm-oil and pot ash for making soap at the numerous soap works in the area. These industries also relied on local and British suppliers for coal and rendered animal fat, among other things. I’ve started playing with a web service called Source Map to map the network of trade that supplied West Ham’s factories and some of the places the manufactured goods were then exported to in the British world. I’ve not been super precise with the locations of the various factories and commodity frontiers in this early draft. [The map above continues to update as I work on this project. It is getting more accurate and more detailed than when I wrote the post below.]
I’d like to thank Devon Elliott (@devonelliott) for answering my Twitter question looking for a software or web service to map this trading network and turning me on to Source Map.