To the casual visitor or tourist, the traditional English market town might appear to be peaceful and unhurried, unchanged for the centuries of its existence. In fact, between 1750 and the present day these towns have greatly changed in character and role. In this detailed and highly readable book, Jonathan Brown describes these transitions. Using contemporary photographs, engravings and quotations, the author first evokes the crowded and busy scenes of the eighteenth-century market town, with streets full of livestock and farm produce, labourers seeking employment and cheap-jacks hawking their wares, and goes on to trace the effects of the new industries and improved transport on the culture and economy of these towns, which often declined in the face of competition from the new industrial centres. He examines how some market towns were able to respond to these pressures and become prosperous new commercial centres, while others were left behind by the pace of this new industrial society, becoming instead the tranquil backwaters and tourist attractions we know today.