The purpose is to look and think about the town as Watts saw and experienced it. This is not about the Victorian City; not about Dickens or Dore, Carlyle or Engels. It is not about the literary descriptions of the mid-C19th and late-C19th, nor the much later works of social measurement led by Charles Booth in London.
Watts saw the town as continuity and development. Urban and industrial expansion had barely begun; the enlightenment expectations of towns and cities as representing prosperity and advancement had yet to be challenged.
The guidebook is written before the rise of romanticism as a reaction to the Industrial Revolution; Watts marvels at the arrival of the ‘water-roads’. Watts had a very different way of thinking about her present and her past. How do we think about the past today?