I specialise in 18th century English history, and the tides of war played a large role at this time. Bristol did very well whenever war broke out – locals produced shoes and clothes for the soldiers, guns and ammunition, ships and fittings and food for the crews and combatants.
But after the war came depression. Soldiers and sailors returned, some maimed, all in need of work or charity. There were often famines, following years when there were few men to till the soil. There were also widows and orphans to be cared for – how ever cheaply.
The vietnam war had a huge impact in its day – it fuelled the peace movement, but it also helped fuel a passion for drugs. When highly skilled pilots returned from Asia, there were not enough jobs for them, especially not involving their specialty, low level flying.
Here’s a song by the brilliant Stephen Stills about how some of them made a living. ‘Treetop flyer’: