The INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION was the transition to new manufacturing
processes in the period from about 1760 to sometime between 1820 and
1840. This transition included going from hand production methods to
machines , new chemical manufacturing and iron production processes,
improved efficiency of water power , the increasing use of steam power
, the development of machine tools and the rise of the factory system
. Textiles were the dominant industry of the
Industrial Revolution in
terms of employment, value of output and capital invested; the textile
industry was also the first to use modern production methods.
Industrial Revolution began in
Great Britain and most of the
important technological innovations were British. Laws also shaped the
revolution, such as courts ruling in favor of property rights . An
entrepreneurial spirit and consumer revolution helped drive
industrialisation in Britain which after 1800 was emulated in Belgium,
the United States, and France.
Industrial Revolution marks a major turning point in history;
almost every aspect of daily life was influenced in some way. In
particular, average income and population began to exhibit
unprecedented sustained growth. Some economists say that the major
impact of the
Industrial Revolution was that the standard of living
for the general population began to increase consistently for the
first time in history, although others have said that it did not begin
to meaningfully improve until the late 19th and 20th centuries.
About the same time the
Industrial Revolution was occurring, Britain
was undergoing an agricultural revolution , which also helped to
improve living standards and provided surplus labour available for
Mechanised textile production spread from
Great Britain to
continental Europe in the early 19th century, with important centres
of textiles, iron and coal emerging in Belgium, and later in France.
Since then industrialisation has spread throughout much of the world.
The precise start and end of the
Industrial Revolution is still
debated among historians, as is the pace of economic and social
GDP per capita
GDP per capita was broadly stable before the Industrial
Revolution and the emergence of the modern capitalist economy, while
Industrial Revolution began an era of per-capita economic growth
in capitalist economies. Economic historians are in agreement that
the onset of the
Industrial Revolution is the most important event in
the history of humanity since the domestication of animals and plants.
Industrial Revolution evolved into the Second Industrial
Revolution in the transition years between 1840 and 1870, when
technological and economic progress continued with the increasing
adoption of steam transport (steam-powered railways, boats and ships),
the large-scale manufacture of machine tools and the increasing use of
machinery in steam-powered factories.
* 1 Etymology
* 2 Important technological developments
* 2.5 Chemicals
* 2.8 Glass making
* 2.10 Agriculture
* 2.11 Mining
* 2.12 Other developments
* 2.13 Transportation
* 2.13.1 Canals
* 2.13.2 Roads
* 2.13.3 Railways
* 3 Social effects
* 3.2 Impact on women and family life
* 3.3 Standards of living
* 3.3.1 Food and nutrition
* 3.3.2 Housing
* 3.3.3 Clothing and consumer goods
* 3.4 Population increase
* 3.5 Labour conditions
* 3.5.1 Social structure and working conditions
* 3.5.2 Factories and urbanisation
* 3.5.4 Organisation of labour
* 3.5.5 Luddites
* 3.6 Impact on environment
* 3.7 Other effects
Industrialisation beyond the United Kingdom
* 4.1.1 Belgium
* 184.108.40.206 Demographic effects
* 4.1.2 France
* 4.1.3 Germany
* 4.1.4 Sweden
* 4.2 Japan
* 4.3 United States
Second Industrial Revolution
* 6 Opposition from
* 7 Causes
* 7.1 Causes in Europe
* 7.2 Causes in Britain
* 7.3 Transfer of knowledge
Protestant work ethic
* 8 See also
* 9 References
* 9.1 Sources
* 10 External links
The earliest recorded use of the term "Industrial Revolution" seems
to have been in a letter from 6 July 1799 written by French envoy
Louis-Guillaume Otto , announcing that France had entered the race to
industrialise. In his 1976 book Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and
Raymond Williams states in the entry for "Industry": "The
idea of a new social order based on major industrial change was clear
in Southey and Owen , between 1811 and 1818, and was implicit as early
as Blake in the early 1790s and Wordsworth at the turn of the
century." The term
Industrial Revolution applied to technological
change was becoming more common by the late 1830s, as in
Jérôme-Adolphe Blanqui 's description in 1837 of la révolution
Friedrich Engels in The Condition of the Working Class
in England in 1844 spoke of "an industrial revolution, a revolution
which at the same time changed the whole of civil society". However,
although Engels wrote in the 1840s, his book was not translated into
English until the late 1800s, and his expression did not enter
everyday language until then. Credit for popularising the term may be
Arnold Toynbee , whose 1881 lectures gave a detailed account
of the term.
Some historians, such as John Clapham and
Nicholas Crafts , have
argued that the economic and social changes occurred gradually and the
term revolution is a misnomer. This is still a subject of debate among
IMPORTANT TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS
The commencement of the
Industrial Revolution is closely linked to a
small number of innovations, beginning in the second half of the 18th
century. By the 1830s the following gains had been made in important
* TEXTILES – mechanised cotton spinning powered by steam or water
greatly increased the output of a worker. The power loom increased the
output of a worker by a factor of over 40. The cotton gin increased
productivity of removing seed from cotton by a factor of 50. Large
gains in productivity also occurred in spinning and weaving of wool
and linen, but they were not as great as in cotton. James Watt
improved on Newcomen 's 1712 steam engine with his Watt steam engine
* STEAM POWER – the efficiency of steam engines increased so that
they used between one-fifth and one-tenth as much fuel. The adaptation
of stationary steam engines to rotary motion made them suitable for
industrial uses. The high pressure engine had a high power to weight
ratio, making it suitable for transportation.
Steam power underwent a
rapid expansion after 1800.
* IRON MAKING – the substitution of coke for charcoal greatly
lowered the fuel cost for pig iron and wrought iron production. Using
coke also allowed larger blast furnaces, resulting in economies of
scale. The cast iron blowing cylinder was first used in 1760. It was
later improved by making it double acting, which allowed higher
furnace temperatures. The puddling process produced a structural grade
iron at a lower cost than the finery forge . The rolling mill was
fifteen times faster than hammering wrought iron.
Hot blast (1828)
greatly increased fuel efficiency in iron production in the following
* INVENTION OF MACHINE TOOLS – The first machine tools were
invented. These included the screw cutting lathe , cylinder boring
machine and the milling machine .
Textile manufacture during the
Arguably the first highly mechanised factory was
John Lombe 's
water-powered silk mill at
Derby , operational by 1721. Lombe learned
silk thread manufacturing by taking a job in Italy and acting as an
industrial spy; however, since the silk industry there was a closely
guarded secret, the state of the industry there is unknown. Although
Lombe's factory was technically successful, the supply of raw silk
from Italy was cut off to eliminate competition. In order to promote
manufacturing the Crown paid for models of Lombe's machinery which
were exhibited in the
Tower of London
Tower of London . Lombe's Mill site
today, rebuilt as
Derby Silk Mill
In the late 17th and early 18th centuries the British government
passed a series of
Calico Acts in order to protect the domestic
woollen industry from the increasing amounts of cotton fabric imported
from its competitors in India.
The demand for heavier fabric was met by a domestic industry based
Lancashire that produced fustian , a cloth with flax warp and
cotton weft . Flax was used for the warp because wheel-spun cotton did
not have sufficient strength, but the resulting blend was not as soft
as 100% cotton and was more difficult to sew.
On the eve of the Industrial Revolution, spinning and weaving were
done in households, for domestic consumption and as a cottage industry
under the putting-out system . Occasionally the work was done in the
workshop of a master weaver. Under the putting-out system, home-based
workers produced under contract to merchant sellers, who often
supplied the raw materials. In the off season the women, typically
farmers' wives, did the spinning and the men did the weaving. Using
the spinning wheel , it took anywhere from four to eight spinners to
supply one hand loom weaver. :823 The flying shuttle patented in
1733 by John Kay , with a number of subsequent improvements including
an important one in 1747, doubled the output of a weaver, worsening
the imbalance between spinning and weaving. It became widely used
Lancashire after 1760 when John's son, Robert , invented the
drop box. :821–22
Lewis Paul patented the roller spinning frame and the
flyer-and-bobbin system for drawing wool to a more even thickness. The
technology was developed with the help of John Wyatt of
Paul and Wyatt opened a mill in
Birmingham which used their new
rolling machine powered by a donkey. In 1743 a factory opened in
Northampton with 50 spindles on each of five of Paul and Wyatt's
machines. This operated until about 1764. A similar mill was built by
Daniel Bourn in
Leominster , but this burnt down. Both
Lewis Paul and
Daniel Bourn patented carding machines in 1748. Based on two sets of
rollers that travelled at different speeds, it was later used in the
first cotton spinning mill . Lewis's invention was later developed and
Richard Arkwright in his water frame and Samuel Crompton
in his spinning mule . Model of the spinning jenny in a museum in
Wuppertal . Invented by
James Hargreaves in 1764, the spinning jenny
was one of the innovations that started the revolution.
In 1764 in the village of Stanhill, Lancashire, James Hargreaves
invented the spinning jenny , which he patented in 1770. It was the
first practical spinning frame with multiple spindles. The jenny
worked in a similar manner to the spinning wheel, by first clamping
down on the fibres, then by drawing them out, followed by twisting.
It was a simple, wooden framed machine that only cost about £6 for a
40-spindle model in 1792, and was used mainly by home spinners. The
jenny produced a lightly twisted yarn only suitable for weft , not
warp . :825–27
The spinning frame or water frame was developed by Richard Arkwright
who, along with two partners, patented it in 1769. The design was
partly based on a spinning machine built for Thomas High by clockmaker
John Kay, who was hired by Arkwright. :827–30 For each spindle, the
water frame used a series of four pairs of rollers, each operating at
a successively higher rotating speed, to draw out the fibre, which was
then twisted by the spindle. The roller spacing was slightly longer
than the fibre length. Too close a spacing caused the fibres to break
while too distant a spacing caused uneven thread. The top rollers were
leather-covered and loading on the rollers was applied by a weight.
The weights kept the twist from backing up before the rollers. The
bottom rollers were wood and metal, with fluting along the length. The
water frame was able to produce a hard, medium count thread suitable
for warp, finally allowing 100% cotton cloth to be made in Britain. A
horse powered the first factory to use the spinning frame. Arkwright
and his partners used water power at a factory in Cromford, Derbyshire
in 1771, giving the invention its name. The only surviving
example of a spinning mule built by the inventor
Samuel Crompton . The
mule produced superior quality thread with minimal labour.
Samuel Crompton 's Spinning Mule , introduced in 1779, was a
combination of the spinning jenny and the water frame in which the
spindles were placed on a carriage, which went through an operational
sequence during which the rollers stopped while the carriage moved
away from the drawing roller to finish drawing out the fibres as the
spindles started rotating. :832 Crompton's mule was able to produce
finer thread than hand spinning and at a lower cost. Mule spun thread
was of suitable strength to be used as warp, and finally allowed
Britain to produce highly competitive cloth in large quantities. :832
Interior of Marshall's
Realising that the expiration of the Arkwright patent would greatly
increase the supply of spun cotton and lead to a shortage of weavers,
Edmund Cartwright developed a vertical power loom which he patented in
1785. In 1776 he patented a two-man operated loom which was more
conventional. :834 Cartwright built two factories; the first burned
down and the second was sabotaged by his workers. Cartwright's loom
design had several flaws, the most serious being thread breakage.
Samuel Horrocks patented a fairly successful loom in 1813. Horock's
loom was improved by Richard Roberts in 1822 and these were produced
in large numbers by Roberts, Hill Arkwright nurtured the inventors,
patented the ideas, financed the initiatives, and protected the
machines. He created the cotton mill which brought the production
processes together in a factory, and he developed the use of power –
first horse power and then water power —which made cotton
manufacture a mechanised industry. Before long steam power was applied
to drive textile machinery.
Manchester acquired the nickname
Cottonopolis during the early 19th century owing to its sprawl of
The reverberatory furnace could produce cast iron using mined
coal. The burning coal remained separate from the iron ore and so did
not contaminate the iron with impurities like sulphur and ash. This
opened the way to increased iron production.
The Iron Bridge
The Iron Bridge ,
Shropshire , England
A major change in the metal industries during the era of the
Industrial Revolution was the replacement of wood and other bio-fuels
with coal. For a given amount of heat, coal required much less labour
to mine than cutting wood and converting it to charcoal, and coal was
more abundant than wood.
Use of coal in smelting started somewhat before the Industrial
Revolution, based on innovations by Sir
Clement Clerke and others from
1678, using coal reverberatory furnaces known as cupolas. These were
operated by the flames playing on the ore and charcoal or coke
mixture, reducing the oxide to metal. This has the advantage that
impurities (such as sulphur ash) in the coal do not migrate into the
metal. This technology was applied to lead from 1678 and to copper
from 1687. It was also applied to iron foundry work in the 1690s, but
in this case the reverberatory furnace was known as an air furnace.
(The foundry cupola is a different (and later) innovation.)
This was followed by Abraham Darby , who made great strides using
coke to fuel his blast furnaces at
Coalbrookdale in 1709. However, the
coke pig iron he made was used mostly for the production of cast iron
goods, such as pots and kettles. He had the advantage over his rivals
in that his pots, cast by his patented process, were thinner and
cheaper than theirs. Coke pig iron was hardly used to produce wrought
iron in forges until the mid-1750s, when his son Abraham Darby II
Ketley furnaces (not far from Coalbrookdale). By
then, coke pig iron was cheaper than charcoal pig iron. Since cast
iron was becoming cheaper and more plentiful, it began being a
structural material following the building of the innovative Iron
Bridge in 1778 by
Abraham Darby III .
Wrought iron for smiths to forge into consumer goods was still made
in finery forges , as it long had been. However, new processes were
adopted in the ensuing years. The first is referred to today as
potting and stamping , but this was superseded by
Henry Cort 's
puddling process. Cort developed two significant iron manufacturing
processes: rolling in 1783 and puddling in 1784. Rolling replaced
hammering for consolidating wrought iron and expelling some of the
dross. Rolling was 15 times faster than hammering with a trip hammer.
Roller mills were first used for making sheets, but also were
developed for rolling structural shapes such as angles and rails.
Puddling produced a structural grade iron at a relatively low cost.
Puddling was a means of decarburizing pig iron by slow oxidation, with
iron ore as the oxygen source, as the iron was manually stirred using
a long rod. The decarburized iron, having a higher melting point than
cast iron, was raked into globs by the puddler. When the glob was
large enough the puddler would remove it. Puddling was backbreaking
and extremely hot work. Few puddlers lived to be 40. Puddling was
done in a reverberatory furnace, allowing coal or coke to be used as
fuel. The puddling process continued to be used until the late 19th
century when iron was being displaced by steel. Because puddling
required human skill in sensing the iron globs, it was never
Up to that time, British iron manufacturers had used considerable
amounts of imported iron to supplement native supplies. This came
principally from Sweden from the mid-17th century and later also from
Russia from the end of the 1720s. However, from 1785, imports
decreased because of the new iron making technology, and Britain
became an exporter of bar iron as well as manufactured wrought iron
consumer goods .
Hot blast , patented by
James Beaumont Neilson in 1828, was the most
important development of the 19th century for saving energy in making
pig iron. By using waste exhaust heat to preheat combustion air, the
amount of fuel to make a unit of pig iron was reduced at first by
between one-third using coal or two-thirds using coke; however, the
efficiency gains continued as the technology improved.
Hot blast also
raised the operating temperature of furnaces, increasing their
capacity. Using less coal or coke meant introducing fewer impurities
into the pig iron. This meant that lower quality coal or anthracite
could be used in areas where coking coal was unavailable or too
expensive; however, by the end of the 19th century transportation
costs fell considerably.
Two decades before the
Industrial Revolution an improvement was made
in the production of steel , which was an expensive commodity and used
only where iron would not do, such as for cutting edge tools and for
Benjamin Huntsman developed his crucible steel technique in
the 1740s. The raw material for this was blister steel, made by the
cementation process .
The supply of cheaper iron and steel aided a number of industries,
such as those making nails, hinges, wire and other hardware items. The
development of machine tools allowed better working of iron, causing
it to be increasingly used in the rapidly growing machinery and engine
Steam power during the
Industrial Revolution The
Savery Engine (piston-less steam pump) – the world's first
commercially useful steam-powered device: built by
Thomas Savery .
The development of the stationary steam engine was an important
element of the Industrial Revolution; however, during the early period
of the Industrial Revolution, the majority of industrial power was
supplied by water and wind. In Britain by 1800 an estimated 10,000
horsepower was being supplied by steam. By 1815 steam power had grown
to 210,000 hp. Small industrial power requirements continued to be
provided by animal and human muscle until widespread electrification
in the early 20th century. These included crank -, treadle -powered
and horse-powered workshop and light industrial machinery.
The first commercially successful industrial use of steam power was
Thomas Savery in 1698. He constructed and patented in London a
low-lift combined vacuum and pressure water pump, that generated about
one horsepower (hp) and was used in numerous water works and in a few
mines (hence its "brand name", The Miner's Friend). Savery's pump was
economical in small horsepower ranges, but was prone to boiler
explosions in larger sizes.
Savery pumps continued to be produced
until the late 18th century.
The first successful piston steam engine was introduced by Thomas
Newcomen before 1712. A number of Newcomen engines were successfully
put to use in Britain for draining hitherto unworkable deep mines,
with the engine on the surface; these were large machines, requiring a
lot of capital to build, and produced about 5 hp (3.7 kW). They were
extremely inefficient by modern standards, but when located where coal
was cheap at pit heads, opened up a great expansion in coal mining by
allowing mines to go deeper. Despite their disadvantages, Newcomen
engines were reliable and easy to maintain and continued to be used in
the coalfields until the early decades of the 19th century. By 1729,
when Newcomen died, his engines had spread (first) to Hungary in 1722,
Germany, Austria, and Sweden. A total of 110 are known to have been
built by 1733 when the joint patent expired, of which 14 were abroad.
In the 1770s the engineer
John Smeaton built some very large examples
and introduced a number of improvements. A total of 1,454 engines had
been built by 1800. Newcomen\'s steam-powered atmospheric engine
was the first practical piston steam engine. Subsequent steam engines
were to power the Industrial Revolution.
A fundamental change in working principles was brought about by
James Watt . In close collaboration with Englishman Matthew
Boulton , he had succeeded by 1778 in perfecting his steam engine ,
which incorporated a series of radical improvements, notably the
closing off of the upper part of the cylinder, thereby making the
low-pressure steam drive the top of the piston instead of the
atmosphere, use of a steam jacket and the celebrated separate steam
condenser chamber. The separate condenser did away with the cooling
water that had been injected directly into the cylinder, which cooled
the cylinder and wasted steam. Likewise, the steam jacket kept steam
from condensing in the cylinder, also improving efficiency. These
improvements increased engine efficiency so that Boulton & Watts
engines used only 20–25% as much coal per horsepower-hour as
Boulton and Watt opened the
Soho Foundry for the
manufacture of such engines in 1795.
By 1783 the
Watt steam engine had been fully developed into a
double-acting rotative type, which meant that it could be used to
directly drive the rotary machinery of a factory or mill. Both of
Watt's basic engine types were commercially very successful, and by
1800, the firm Boulton most of the engines generated from 5 to 10 hp
(3.7 to 7.5 kW).
The development of machine tools , such as the engine lathe ,
planing, milling and shaping machines powered by these engines,
enabled all the metal parts of the engines to be easily and accurately
cut and in turn made it possible to build larger and more powerful
Until about 1800 the most common pattern of steam engine was the beam
engine , built as an integral part of a stone or brick engine-house,
but soon various patterns of self-contained rotative engines (readily
removable, but not on wheels) were developed, such as the table engine
. Around the start of the 19th century, the Cornish engineer Richard
Trevithick and the American
Oliver Evans began to construct
higher-pressure non-condensing steam engines, exhausting against the
atmosphere. High pressure yielded an engine and boiler compact enough
to be used on mobile road and rail locomotives and steam boats .
Machine tool See also:
Maudslay's famous early screw-cutting lathes of circa 1797 and 1800
The Middletown milling machine of circa 1818, associated with
Robert Johnson and Simeon North
Industrial Revolution created a demand for metal parts used in
machinery. This led to the development of several machine tools for
cutting metal parts. They have their origins in the tools developed in
the 18th century by makers of clocks and watches and scientific
instrument makers to enable them to batch-produce small mechanisms.
Before the advent of machine tools, metal was worked manually using
the basic hand tools of hammers, files, scrapers, saws and chisels.
Consequently, the use of metal was kept to a minimum. Wooden
components had the disadvantage of changing dimensions with
temperature and humidity, and the various joints tended to rack (work
loose) over time. As the
Industrial Revolution progressed, machines
with metal parts and frames became more common. Hand methods of
production were very laborious and costly and precision was difficult
to achieve. Pre-industrial machinery was built by various craftsmen
– millwrights built water and wind mills, carpenters made wooden
framing, and smiths and turners made metal parts.
The first large machine tool was the cylinder boring machine used for
boring the large-diameter cylinders on early steam engines. The
planing machine , the milling machine and the shaping machine were
developed in the early decades of the 19th century. Although the
milling machine was invented at this time, it was not developed as a
serious workshop tool until somewhat later in the 19th century.
Henry Maudslay , who trained a school of machine tool makers early in
the 19th century, was a mechanic with superior ability who had been
employed at the
Royal Arsenal ,
Woolwich . He was hired away by Joseph
Bramah for the production of high security metal locks that required
precision craftsmanship. Bramah patented a lathe that had similarities
to the slide rest lathe. Maudslay perfected the slide rest lathe,
which could cut machine screws of different thread pitches by using
changeable gears between the spindle and the lead screw. Before its
invention screws could not be cut to any precision using various
earlier lathe designs, some of which copied from a template.
:392–95 The slide rest lathe was called one of history's most
important inventions, although not entirely Maudslay's idea. :31, 36
Maudslay left Bramah's employment and set up his own shop. He was
engaged to build the machinery for making ships' pulley blocks for the
Royal Navy in the
Portsmouth Block Mills . These machines were
all-metal and were the first machines for mass production and making
components with a degree of interchangeability . The lessons Maudslay
learned about the need for stability and precision he adapted to the
development of machine tools, and in his workshops he trained a
generation of men to build on his work, such as Richard Roberts ,
Joseph Clement and
Joseph Whitworth .
James Fox of
Derby had a healthy export trade in machine tools for
the first third of the century, as did
Matthew Murray of Leeds.
Roberts was a maker of high-quality machine tools and a pioneer of the
use of jigs and gauges for precision workshop measurement.
The impact of machine tools during the
Industrial Revolution was not
that great because other than firearms, threaded fasteners and a few
other industries there were few mass-produced metal parts. The
techniques to make mass-produced metal parts made with sufficient
precision to be interchangeable is largely attributed to a program of
the U.S. Department of War which perfected interchangeable parts for
firearms in the early 19th century.
In the half century following the invention of the fundamental
machine tools the machine industry became the largest industrial
sector of the economy, by value added, in the U.S.
The large scale production of chemicals was an important development
during the Industrial Revolution. The first of these was the
production of sulphuric acid by the lead chamber process invented by
John Roebuck (
James Watt 's first partner) in 1746. He
was able to greatly increase the scale of the manufacture by replacing
the relatively expensive glass vessels formerly used with larger, less
expensive chambers made of riveted sheets of lead . Instead of making
a small amount each time, he was able to make around 100 pounds (50
kg) in each of the chambers, at least a tenfold increase.
The production of an alkali on a large scale became an important goal
as well, and
Nicolas Leblanc succeeded in 1791 in introducing a method
for the production of sodium carbonate . The
Leblanc process was a
reaction of sulphuric acid with sodium chloride to give sodium
sulphate and hydrochloric acid . The sodium sulphate was heated with
limestone (calcium carbonate ) and coal to give a mixture of sodium
carbonate and calcium sulphide . Adding water separated the soluble
sodium carbonate from the calcium sulphide. The process produced a
large amount of pollution (the hydrochloric acid was initially vented
to the air, and calcium sulphide was a useless waste product).
Nonetheless, this synthetic soda ash proved economical compared to
that from burning specific plants (barilla ) or from kelp , which were
the previously dominant sources of soda ash, and also to potash
(potassium carbonate ) derived from hardwood ashes.
These two chemicals were very important because they enabled the
introduction of a host of other inventions, replacing many small-scale
operations with more cost-effective and controllable processes. Sodium
carbonate had many uses in the glass, textile, soap, and paper
industries. Early uses for sulphuric acid included pickling (removing
rust) iron and steel, and for bleaching cloth.
The development of bleaching powder (calcium hypochlorite ) by
Charles Tennant in about 1800, based on the
discoveries of French chemist
Claude Louis Berthollet
Claude Louis Berthollet , revolutionised
the bleaching processes in the textile industry by dramatically
reducing the time required (from months to days) for the traditional
process then in use, which required repeated exposure to the sun in
bleach fields after soaking the textiles with alkali or sour milk.
Tennant's factory at St Rollox, North
Glasgow , became the largest
chemical plant in the world.
After 1860 the focus on chemical innovation was in dyestuffs , and
Germany took world leadership, building a strong chemical industry.
Aspiring chemists flocked to German universities in the 1860–1914
era to learn the latest techniques. British scientists by contrast,
lacked research universities and did not train advanced students;
instead the practice was to hire German-trained chemists.
Thames Tunnel (opened 1843).
Cement was used in the world's first underwater tunnel.
Joseph Aspdin , a British bricklayer turned builder, patented
a chemical process for making portland cement which was an important
advance in the building trades. This process involves sintering a
mixture of clay and limestone to about 1,400 °C (2,552 °F), then
grinding it into a fine powder which is then mixed with water, sand
and gravel to produce concrete .
Portland cement was used by the
famous English engineer
Marc Isambard Brunel several years later when
Thames Tunnel .
Cement was used on a large scale in
the construction of the
London sewerage system a generation later.
Another major industry of the later
Industrial Revolution was gas
lighting . Though others made a similar innovation elsewhere, the
large-scale introduction of this was the work of
William Murdoch , an
employee of Boulton ">
The Crystal Palace held the Great Exhibition
A new method of producing glass, known as the cylinder process , was
developed in Europe during the early 19th century. In 1832 this
process was used by the
Chance Brothers to create sheet glass. They
became the leading producers of window and plate glass. This
advancement allowed for larger panes of glass to be created without
interruption, thus freeing up the space planning in interiors as well
as the fenestration of buildings.
The Crystal Palace is the supreme
example of the use of sheet glass in a new and innovative structure.
A machine for making a continuous sheet of paper on a loop of wire
fabric was patented in 1798 by Nicholas Louis Robert who worked for
Saint-Léger Didot family in France. The paper machine is known as a
Fourdrinier after the financiers, brothers Sealy and Henry Fourdrinier
, who were stationers in London. Although greatly improved and with
many variations, the Fourdriner machine is the predominant means of
paper production today.
The method of continuous production demonstrated by the paper machine
influenced the development of continuous rolling of iron and later
steel and other continuous production processes.
British Agricultural Revolution
British Agricultural Revolution is considered one of the causes
Industrial Revolution because improved agricultural
productivity freed up workers to work in other sectors of the economy.
Industrial technologies that affected farming included the seed drill
, the Dutch plough , which contained iron parts, and the threshing
Jethro Tull invented an improved seed drill in 1701. It was a
mechanical seeder which distributed seeds evenly across a plot of land
and planted them at the correct depth. This was important because the
yield of seeds harvested to seeds planted at that time was around four
or five. Tull's seed drill was very expensive and not very reliable
and therefore did not have much of an impact. Good quality seed drills
were not produced until the mid 18th century.
Joseph Foljambe's Rotherham plough of 1730 was the first commercially
successful iron plough. The threshing machine , invented by Andrew
Meikle in 1784, displaced hand threshing with a flail , a laborious
job that took about one-quarter of agricultural labour. :286 It took
several decades to diffuse and was the final straw for many farm
labourers, who faced near starvation, leading to the 1830 agricultural
rebellion of the
Swing Riots .
Machine tools and metalworking techniques developed during the
Industrial Revolution eventually resulted in precision manufacturing
techniques in the late 19th century for mass-producing agricultural
equipment, such as reapers, binders and combine harvesters.
A Middleton miner in 1814
Coal mining in Britain, particularly in
South Wales , started early.
Before the steam engine, pits were often shallow bell pits following a
seam of coal along the surface, which were abandoned as the coal was
extracted. In other cases, if the geology was favourable, the coal was
mined by means of an adit or drift mine driven into the side of a
Shaft mining was done in some areas, but the limiting factor was
the problem of removing water. It could be done by hauling buckets of
water up the shaft or to a sough (a tunnel driven into a hill to drain
a mine). In either case, the water had to be discharged into a stream
or ditch at a level where it could flow away by gravity. The
introduction of the steam pump by
Savery in 1698 and the Newcomen
steam engine in 1712 greatly facilitated the removal of water and
enabled shafts to be made deeper, enabling more coal to be extracted.
These were developments that had begun before the Industrial
Revolution, but the adoption of
John Smeaton 's improvements to the
Newcomen engine followed by James Watt's more efficient steam engines
from the 1770s reduced the fuel costs of engines, making mines more
Coal mining was very dangerous owing to the presence of firedamp in
many coal seams. Some degree of safety was provided by the safety lamp
which was invented in 1816 by Sir
Humphry Davy and independently by
George Stephenson . However, the lamps proved a false dawn because
they became unsafe very quickly and provided a weak light. Firedamp
explosions continued, often setting off coal dust explosions , so
casualties grew during the entire 19th century. Conditions of work
were very poor, with a high casualty rate from rock falls.
Other developments included more efficient water wheels , based on
experiments conducted by the British engineer
John Smeaton the
beginnings of a machine industry and the rediscovery of concrete
(based on hydraulic lime mortar ) by
John Smeaton , which had been
lost for 1300 years.
Transport during the British Industrial Revolution See
Productivity improving technologies (economic history) §
At the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, inland transport was
by navigable rivers and roads, with coastal vessels employed to move
heavy goods by sea. Wagon ways were used for conveying coal to rivers
for further shipment, but canals had not yet been widely constructed.
Animals supplied all of the motive power on land, with sails providing
the motive power on the sea. The first horse railways were introduced
toward the end of the 18th century, with steam locomotives being
introduced in the early decades of the 19th century.
Industrial Revolution improved Britain's transport infrastructure
with a turnpike road network, a canal and waterway network, and a
railway network. Raw materials and finished products could be moved
more quickly and cheaply than before. Improved transportation also
allowed new ideas to spread quickly.
History of the British canal system The
Bridgewater Canal , famous because of its commercial success, crossing
Canal , one of the last canals to be built.
Canals were the first technology to allow bulk materials to be
economically transported long distances inland. This was because a
horse could pull a barge with a load dozens of times larger than the
load that could be drawn in a cart.
Building of canals dates to ancient times. The Grand
Canal in China,
"the world's largest artificial waterway and oldest canal still in
existence," parts of which were started between the 6th and 4th
centuries BC, is 1,121 miles (1,804 km) long and links
In the UK, canals began to be built in the late 18th century to link
the major manufacturing centres across the country. Known for its huge
commercial success, the
Bridgewater Canal in
North West England ,
which opened in 1761 and was mostly funded by The 3rd Duke of
Bridgewater . From
Worsley to the rapidly growing town of Manchester
its construction cost £168,000 (£22,589,130 as of 2013 ), but its
advantages over land and river transport meant that within a year of
its opening in 1761, the price of coal in
Manchester fell by about
half. This success helped inspire a period of intense canal building,
Canal Mania . New canals were hastily built in the aim of
replicating the commercial success of the Bridgewater Canal, the most
notable being the
Leeds and Liverpool Canal and the Thames and Severn
Canal which opened in 1774 and 1789 respectively.
By the 1820s a national network was in existence.
served as a model for the organisation and methods later used to
construct the railways. They were eventually largely superseded as
profitable commercial enterprises by the spread of the railways from
the 1840s on. The last major canal to be built in the United Kingdom
Canal , which upon opening in 1894 was the
largest ship canal in the world, and opened
Manchester as a port .
However it never achieved the commercial success its sponsors had
hoped for and signalled canals as a dying mode of transport in an age
dominated by railways, which were quicker and often cheaper.
Britain's canal network, together with its surviving mill buildings,
is one of the most enduring features of the early Industrial
Revolution to be seen in Britain.
Construction of the first macadam road in the United States
(1823). In the foreground, workers are breaking stones "so as not to
exceed 6 ounces in weight or to pass a two-inch ring".
Much of the original British road system was poorly maintained by
thousands of local parishes, but from the 1720s (and occasionally
earlier) turnpike trusts were set up to charge tolls and maintain some
roads. Increasing numbers of main roads were turnpiked from the 1750s
to the extent that almost every main road in England and Wales was the
responsibility of a turnpike trust . New engineered roads were built
by John Metcalf ,
Thomas Telford and most notably John McAdam , with
the first 'macadamised ' stretch of road being Marsh Road at Ashton
Bristol in 1816. The major turnpikes radiated from London and
were the means by which the Royal Mail was able to reach the rest of
the country. Heavy goods transport on these roads was by means of
slow, broad wheeled, carts hauled by teams of horses. Lighter goods
were conveyed by smaller carts or by teams of pack horse . Stage
coaches carried the rich, and the less wealthy could pay to ride on
carriers carts .
Main article: History of rail transport in
Painting depicting the opening of the
in 1830, the first inter-city railway in the world and which spawned
Railway Mania due to its success.
Reducing friction was one of the major reasons for the success of
railroads compared to wagons. This was demonstrated on an iron plate
covered wooden tramway in 1805 at Croydon, England.
“ A good horse on an ordinary turnpike road can draw two thousand
pounds, or one ton. A party of gentlemen were invited to witness the
experiment, that the superiority of the new road might be established
by ocular demonstration. Twelve wagons were loaded with stones, till
each wagon weighed three tons, and the wagons were fastened together.
A horse was then attached, which drew the wagons with ease, six miles
in two hours, having stopped four times, in order to show he had the
power of starting, as well as drawing his great load.”
Railways were made practical by the widespread introduction of
inexpensive puddled iron after 1800, the rolling mill for making
rails, and the development of the high pressure steam engine also
Wagonways for moving coal in the mining areas had started in the 17th
century and were often associated with canal or river systems for the
further movement of coal. These were all horse drawn or relied on
gravity, with a stationary steam engine to haul the wagons back to the
top of the incline. The first applications of the steam locomotive
were on wagon or plate ways (as they were then often called from the
cast-iron plates used). Horse-drawn public railways did not begin
until the early years of the 19th century when improvements to pig and
wrought iron production were lowering costs. See:
Steam locomotives began being built after the introduction of high
pressure steam engines after the expiration of the Boulton and Watt
patent in 1800. High pressure engines exhausted used steam to the
atmosphere, doing away with the condenser and cooling water. They were
also much lighter weight and smaller in size for a given horsepower
than the stationary condensing engines. A few of these early
locomotives were used in mines. Steam-hauled public railways began
Stockton and Darlington Railway in 1825.
The rapid introduction of railways followed the 1829 Rainhill Trials
, which demonstrated
Robert Stephenson 's successful locomotive design
and the 1828 development of
Hot blast , which dramatically reduced the
fuel consumption of making iron and increased the capacity the blast
On 15 September 1830, the
Manchester Railway was
opened, the first inter-city railway in the world and was attended by
Prime Minister, the Duke of Wellington . The railway was engineered
Joseph Locke and
George Stephenson , linked the rapidly expanding
industrial town of
Manchester with the port town of
Liverpool . The
opening was marred by problems, due to the primitive nature of the
technology being employed, however problems were gradually ironed out
and the railway became highly successful, transporting passengers and
freight. The success of the inter-city railway, particularly in the
transport of freight and commodities, led to
Railway Mania .
Construction of major railways connecting the larger cities and towns
began in the 1830s but only gained momentum at the very end of the
first Industrial Revolution. After many of the workers had completed
the railways, they did not return to their rural lifestyles but
instead remained in the cities, providing additional workers for the
Main article: Life in
Great Britain during the
Prior to the
Industrial Revolution most of the workforce was employed
in agriculture, either as self-employed farmers as land owners or
tenants, or as landless agricultural labourers. By the time of the
Industrial Revolution the putting-out system whereby farmers and
townspeople produced goods in their homes, often described as cottage
industry, was the standard. Typical putting out system goods included
spinning and weaving. Merchant capitalist provided the raw materials,
typically paid workers by the piece , and were responsible for the
sale of the goods. Embezzlement of supplies by workers and poor
quality were common problems. The logistical effort in procuring and
distributing raw materials and picking up finished goods were also
limitations of the putting out system.
Some early spinning and weaving machinery, such as a 40 spindle jenny
for about six pounds in 1792, was affordable for cottagers. Later
machinery such as spinning frames, spinning mules and power looms were
expensive (especially if water powered), giving rise to capitalist
ownership of factories. Many workers, who had nothing but their labour
to sell, became factory workers out of necessity.
The change in the social relationship of the factory worker compared
to farmers and cottagers was viewed unfavourably by
Karl Marx ,
however, he recognized the increase in productivity made possible by
IMPACT ON WOMEN AND FAMILY LIFE
Women's historians have debated the effect of the Industrial
Revolution and capitalism generally on the status of women. Taking a
Alice Clark argued that when capitalism arrived in
17th century England, it lowered the status of women as they lost much
of their economic importance. Clark argues that in 16th century
England, women were engaged in many aspects of industry and
agriculture. The home was a central unit of production and women
played a vital role in running farms, and in some trades and landed
estates. Their useful economic roles gave them a sort of equality with
their husbands. However, Clark argues, as capitalism expanded in the
17th century, there was more and more division of labour with the
husband taking paid labour jobs outside the home, and the wife reduced
to unpaid household work. Middle- and upper-class women were confined
to an idle domestic existence, supervising servants; lower-class women
were forced to take poorly paid jobs. Capitalism, therefore, had a
negative effect on powerful women.
In a more positive interpretation,
Ivy Pinchbeck argues that
capitalism created the conditions for women's emancipation. Tilly and
Scott have emphasised the continuity in the status of women, finding
three stages in English history. In the pre-industrial era, production
was mostly for home use and women produce much of the needs of the
households. The second stage was the "family wage economy" of early
industrialisation; the entire family depended on the collective wages
of its members, including husband, wife and older children. The third
or modern stage is the "family consumer economy," in which the family
is the site of consumption, and women are employed in large numbers in
retail and clerical jobs to support rising standards of consumption.
STANDARDS OF LIVING
Josiah Wedgwood is credited with the
industrialisation of the manufacture of pottery . Meeting the demands
of the consumer revolution and growth in wealth of the middle classes
in Britain, Wedgwood created goods such as tableware , which was
starting to become a common feature on dining tables.
The effects on living conditions the industrial revolution have been
very controversial, and were hotly debated by economic and social
historians from the 1950s to the 1980s. A series of 1950s essays by
Henry Phelps Brown and Sheila V. Hopkins later set the academic
consensus that the bulk of the population, that was at the bottom of
the social ladder, suffered severe reductions in their living
standards. During 1813–1913, there was a significant increase in
Some economists, such as Robert E. Lucas, Jr. , say that the real
impact of the
Industrial Revolution was that "for the first time in
history, the living standards of the masses of ordinary people have
begun to undergo sustained growth ... Nothing remotely like this
economic behaviour is mentioned by the classical economists, even as a
theoretical possibility." Others, however, argue that while growth of
the economy's overall productive powers was unprecedented during the
Industrial Revolution, living standards for the majority of the
population did not grow meaningfully until the late 19th and 20th
centuries, and that in many ways workers' living standards declined
under early capitalism: for instance, studies have shown that real
wages in Britain only increased 15% between the 1780s and 1850s, and
that life expectancy in Britain did not begin to dramatically increase
until the 1870s.
Food And Nutrition
British Agricultural Revolution
Chronic hunger and malnutrition were the norm for the majority of the
population of the world including Britain and France, until the late
19th century. Until about 1750, in large part due to malnutrition,
life expectancy in France was about 35 years, and only slightly higher
in Britain. The United States population of the time was adequately
fed, much taller on average and had life expectancy of 45–50 years.
In Britain and the Netherlands, food supply had been increasing and
prices falling before the
Industrial Revolution due to better
agricultural practices; however, population grew too, as noted by
Thomas Malthus . Before the Industrial Revolution, advances in
agriculture or technology soon led to an increase in population, which
again strained food and other resources, limiting increases in per
capita income. This condition is called the
Malthusian trap , and it
was finally overcome by industrialisation.
Transportation improvements, such as canals and improved roads, also
lowered food costs. Railroads were introduced near the end of the
The very rapid growth in population in the 19th century in the cities
included the new industrial and manufacturing cities, as well as
service centers such as Edinburgh and London. The critical factor was
financing, which was handled by building societies that dealt directly
with large contracting firms. Private renting from housing landlords
was the dominant tenure. P. Kemp says this was usually of advantage to
tenants. People moved in so rapidly that there was not enough capital
to build adequate housing for everyone, so low income newcomers
squeezed into increasingly overcrowded slums. Clean water, sanitation,
and public health facilities were inadequate; the death rate was high,
especially infant mortality, and tuberculosis among young adults.
Cholera from polluted water and typhoid were endemic. Unlike rural
areas, there were no famines such as devastated Ireland in the 1840s.
A large exposé literature grew up condemning the unhealthy
conditions. By far the most famous publication was by one of the
founders of the Socialist movement, The Condition of the Working Class
in England in 1844
Friedrich Engels described backstreet sections of
Manchester and other mill towns, where people lived in crude shanties
and shacks, some not completely enclosed, some with dirt floors. These
shanty towns had narrow walkways between irregularly shaped lots and
dwellings. There were no sanitary facilities. Population density was
extremely high. Not everyone lived in such poor conditions. The
Industrial Revolution also created a middle class of businessmen,
clerks, foremen and engineers who lived in much better conditions.
Conditions improved over the course of the 19th century due to new
public health acts regulating things such as sewage, hygiene and home
construction. In the introduction of his 1892 edition, Engels notes
that most of the conditions he wrote about in 1844 had been greatly
improved. For example, the
Public Health Act 1875 led to the more
sanitary byelaw terraced house .
Consumers benefited from falling prices for clothing and household
articles such as cast iron cooking utensils, and in the following
decades, stoves for cooking and space heating.
According to Robert Hughes in The Fatal Shore, the population of
England and Wales, which had remained steady at six million from 1700
to 1740, rose dramatically after 1740. The population of England had
more than doubled from 8.3 million in 1801 to 16.8 million in 1850
and, by 1901, had nearly doubled again to 30.5 million. Improved
conditions led to the population of Britain increasing from 10 million
to 40 million in the 1800s. Europe's population increased from about
100 million in 1700 to 400 million by 1900.
Industrial Revolution was the first period in history during
which there was a simultaneous increase in both population and per
Social Structure And Working Conditions
In terms of social structure, the
Industrial Revolution witnessed the
triumph of a middle class of industrialists and businessmen over a
landed class of nobility and gentry. Ordinary working people found
increased opportunities for employment in the new mills and factories,
but these were often under strict working conditions with long hours
of labour dominated by a pace set by machines. As late as the year
1900, most industrial workers in the United States still worked a
10-hour day (12 hours in the steel industry), yet earned from 20% to
40% less than the minimum deemed necessary for a decent life.
However, harsh working conditions were prevalent long before the
Industrial Revolution took place.
Pre-industrial society was very
static and often cruel – child labour , dirty living conditions, and
long working hours were just as prevalent before the Industrial
Factories And Urbanisation
Manchester, England ("
Cottonopolis "), pictured in 1840, showing
the mass of factory chimneys
Industrialisation led to the creation of the factory . The factory
system contributed to the growth of urban areas, as large numbers of
workers migrated into the cities in search of work in the factories.
Nowhere was this better illustrated than the mills and associated
industries of Manchester, nicknamed "
Cottonopolis ", and the world's
first industrial city.
Manchester experienced a six-times increase in
its population between 1771 and 1831. Bradford grew by 50% every ten
years between 1811 and 1851 and by 1851 only 50% of the population of
Bradford was actually born there.
For much of the 19th century, production was done in small mills,
which were typically water-powered and built to serve local needs.
Later, each factory would have its own steam engine and a chimney to
give an efficient draft through its boiler.
The transition to industrialisation was not without difficulty. For
example, a group of English workers known as Luddites formed to
protest against industrialisation and sometimes sabotaged factories.
In other industries the transition to factory production was not so
divisive. Some industrialists themselves tried to improve factory and
living conditions for their workers. One of the earliest such
Robert Owen , known for his pioneering efforts in
improving conditions for workers at the
New Lanark mills , and often
regarded as one of the key thinkers of the early socialist movement .
By 1746 an integrated brass mill was working at
Warmley near Bristol
. Raw material went in at one end, was smelted into brass and was
turned into pans, pins, wire, and other goods. Housing was provided
for workers on site.
Josiah Wedgwood and
Matthew Boulton (whose Soho
Manufactory was completed in 1766) were other prominent early
industrialists, who employed the factory system.
A young "drawer" pulling a coal tub along a mine gallery. In
Britain laws passed in 1842 and 1844 improved mine working conditions.
Industrial Revolution led to a population increase but the
chances of surviving childhood did not improve throughout the
Industrial Revolution, although infant mortality rates were reduced
markedly. There was still limited opportunity for education and
children were expected to work. Employers could pay a child less than
an adult even though their productivity was comparable; there was no
need for strength to operate an industrial machine, and since the
industrial system was completely new, there were no experienced adult
labourers. This made child labour the labour of choice for
manufacturing in the early phases of the
Industrial Revolution between
the 18th and 19th centuries. In England and Scotland in 1788,
two-thirds of the workers in 143 water-powered cotton mills were
described as children.
Child labour existed before the
Industrial Revolution but with the
increase in population and education it became more visible. Many
children were forced to work in relatively bad conditions for much
lower pay than their elders, 10–20% of an adult male's wage.
Children as young as four were employed. Beatings and long hours were
common, with some child coal miners and hurriers working from 4 am
until 5 pm. Conditions were dangerous, with some children killed when
they dozed off and fell into the path of the carts, while others died
from gas explosions. Many children developed lung cancer and other
diseases and died before the age of 25.
Workhouses would sell orphans
and abandoned children as "pauper apprentices", working without wages
for board and lodging. Those who ran away would be whipped and
returned to their masters, with some masters shackling them to prevent
escape. Children employed as mule scavengers by cotton mills would
crawl under machinery to pick up cotton, working 14 hours a day, six
days a week. Some lost hands or limbs, others were crushed under the
machines, and some were decapitated. Young girls worked at match
factories, where phosphorus fumes would cause many to develop phossy
jaw . Children employed at glassworks were regularly burned and
blinded, and those working at potteries were vulnerable to poisonous
Reports were written detailing some of the abuses, particularly in
the coal mines and textile factories, and these helped to popularise
the children's plight. The public outcry, especially among the upper
and middle classes, helped stir change in the young workers' welfare.
Politicians and the government tried to limit child labour by law but
factory owners resisted; some felt that they were aiding the poor by
giving their children money to buy food to avoid starvation , and
others simply welcomed the cheap labour. In 1833 and 1844, the first
general laws against child labour, the
Factory Acts , were passed in
Britain: Children younger than nine were not allowed to work, children
were not permitted to work at night, and the work day of youth under
the age of 18 was limited to twelve hours.
supervised the execution of the law, however, their scarcity made
enforcement difficult. About ten years later, the employment of
children and women in mining was forbidden. These laws decreased the
number of child labourers, however child labour remained in Europe and
the United States up to the 20th century.
Organisation Of Labour
Trade union § History
Industrial Revolution concentrated labour into mills, factories
and mines, thus facilitating the organisation of combinations or trade
unions to help advance the interests of working people. The power of a
union could demand better terms by withdrawing all labour and causing
a consequent cessation of production. Employers had to decide between
giving in to the union demands at a cost to themselves or suffering
the cost of the lost production. Skilled workers were hard to replace,
and these were the first groups to successfully advance their
conditions through this kind of bargaining.
The main method the unions used to effect change was strike action .
Many strikes were painful events for both sides, the unions and the
management. In Britain, the
Combination Act 1799 forbade workers to
form any kind of trade union until its repeal in 1824. Even after
this, unions were still severely restricted.
In 1832, the Reform Act extended the vote in Britain but did not
grant universal suffrage. That year six men from
Tolpuddle in Dorset
founded the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers to protest
against the gradual lowering of wages in the 1830s. They refused to
work for less than ten shillings a week, although by this time wages
had been reduced to seven shillings a week and were due to be further
reduced to six. In 1834 James Frampton, a local landowner, wrote to
the Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne , to complain about the union,
invoking an obscure law from 1797 prohibiting people from swearing
oaths to each other, which the members of the Friendly Society had
done. James Brine, James Hammett, George Loveless, George's brother
James Loveless, George's brother in-law Thomas Standfield, and
Thomas's son John Standfield were arrested, found guilty, and
transported to Australia. They became known as the
Tolpuddle Martyrs .
In the 1830s and 1840s, the Chartist movement was the first
large-scale organised working class political movement which
campaigned for political equality and social justice. Its Charter of
reforms received over three million signatures but was rejected by
Parliament without consideration.
Working people also formed friendly societies and co-operative
societies as mutual support groups against times of economic hardship.
Enlightened industrialists, such as
Robert Owen also supported these
organisations to improve the conditions of the working class.
Unions slowly overcame the legal restrictions on the right to strike.
In 1842, a general strike involving cotton workers and colliers was
organised through the Chartist movement which stopped production
across Great Britain.
Eventually, effective political organisation for working people was
achieved through the trades unions who, after the extensions of the
franchise in 1867 and 1885, began to support socialist political
parties that later merged to become the British Labour Party .
Luddite Luddites smashing a power loom in 1812
The rapid industrialisation of the English economy cost many craft
workers their jobs. The movement started first with lace and hosiery
Nottingham and spread to other areas of the textile
industry owing to early industrialisation. Many weavers also found
themselves suddenly unemployed since they could no longer compete with
machines which only required relatively limited (and unskilled) labour
to produce more cloth than a single weaver. Many such unemployed
workers, weavers and others, turned their animosity towards the
machines that had taken their jobs and began destroying factories and
machinery. These attackers became known as Luddites, supposedly
Ned Ludd , a folklore figure. The first attacks of the
Luddite movement began in 1811. The Luddites rapidly gained
popularity, and the British government took drastic measures, using
the militia or army to protect industry. Those rioters who were caught
were tried and hanged, or transported for life.
Unrest continued in other sectors as they industrialised, such as
with agricultural labourers in the 1830s when large parts of southern
Britain were affected by the
Captain Swing disturbances. Threshing
machines were a particular target, and hayrick burning was a popular
activity. However, the riots led to the first formation of trade
unions , and further pressure for reform.
IMPACT ON ENVIRONMENT
Levels of air pollution rose during the Industrial Revolution,
sparking the first modern environmental laws to be passed in the
The origins of the environmental movement lay in the response to
increasing levels of smoke pollution in the atmosphere during the
Industrial Revolution. The emergence of great factories and the
concomitant immense growth in coal consumption gave rise to an
unprecedented level of air pollution in industrial centers; after 1900
the large volume of industrial chemical discharges added to the
growing load of untreated human waste. The first large-scale, modern
environmental laws came in the form of Britain's
Alkali Acts , passed
in 1863, to regulate the deleterious air pollution (gaseous
hydrochloric acid ) given off by the
Leblanc process , used to produce
soda ash . An
Alkali inspector and four sub-inspectors were appointed
to curb this pollution. The responsibilities of the inspectorate were
gradually expanded, culminating in the
Alkali Order 1958 which placed
all major heavy industries that emitted smoke , grit, dust and fumes
The manufactured gas industry began in British cities in 1812–1820.
The technique used produced highly toxic effluent that was dumped into
sewers and rivers. The gas companies were repeatedly sued in nuisance
lawsuits. They usually lost and modified the worst practices. The City
of London repeatedly indicted gas companies in the 1820s for polluting
the Thames and poisoning its fish. Finally, Parliament wrote company
charters to regulate toxicity. The industry reached the US around
1850 causing pollution and lawsuits.
In industrial cities local experts and reformers, especially after
1890, took the lead in identifying environmental degradation and
pollution, and initiating grass-roots movements to demand and achieve
reforms. Typically the highest priority went to water and air
Smoke Abatement Society was formed in Britain in
1898 making it one of the oldest environmental NGOs. It was founded by
William Blake Richmond , frustrated with the pall cast by
coal smoke. Although there were earlier pieces of legislation, the
Public Health Act 1875 required all furnaces and fireplaces to consume
their own smoke. It also provided for sanctions against factories that
emitted large amounts of black smoke. The provisions of this law were
extended in 1926 with the
Smoke Abatement Act to include other
emissions, such as soot, ash and gritty particles and to empower local
authorities to impose their own regulations.
The application of steam power to the industrial processes of
printing supported a massive expansion of newspaper and popular book
publishing, which reinforced rising literacy and demands for mass
During the Industrial Revolution, the life expectancy of children
increased dramatically. The percentage of the children born in London
who died before the age of five decreased from 74.5% in 1730–1749 to
31.8% in 1810–1829.
The growth of modern industry since the late 18th century led to
massive urbanisation and the rise of new great cities, first in Europe
and then in other regions, as new opportunities brought huge numbers
of migrants from rural communities into urban areas. In 1800, only 3%
of the world's population lived in cities, compared to nearly 50%
today (the beginning of the 21st century).
Manchester had a
population of 10,000 in 1717, but by 1911 it had burgeoned to 2.3
INDUSTRIALISATION BEYOND THE UNITED KINGDOM
Eric Hobsbawm held that the
Industrial Revolution began in Britain in
the 1780s and was not fully felt until the 1830s or 1840s, while T.
S. Ashton held that it occurred roughly between 1760 and 1830. The
Industrial Revolution on
Continental Europe came a little later than
in Great Britain. In many industries, this involved the application of
technology developed in Britain in new places. Often the technology
was purchased from Britain or British engineers and entrepreneurs
moved abroad in search of new opportunities. By 1809, part of the Ruhr
Valley in Westphalia was called 'Miniature England' because of its
similarities to the industrial areas of England. The German, Russian
and Belgian governments all provided state funding to the new
industries. In some cases (such as iron ), the different availability
of resources locally meant that only some aspects of the British
technology were adopted.
Belgium was the second country, after Britain, in which the
Industrial Revolution took place and the first in continental Europe:
Wallonia (French speaking southern Belgium) was the first region to
follow the British model successfully. Starting in the middle of the
1820s, and especially after Belgium became an independent nation in
1830, numerous works comprising coke blast furnaces as well as
puddling and rolling mills were built in the coal mining areas around
Charleroi . The leader was a transplanted Englishman John
Cockerill . His factories at
Seraing integrated all stages of
production, from engineering to the supply of raw materials, as early
Wallonia exemplified the radical evolution of industrial expansion.
Thanks to coal (the French word "houille" was coined in Wallonia),
the region geared up to become the 2nd industrial power in the world
after Britain. But it is also pointed out by many researchers, with
Sillon industriel , 'Especially in the
Sambre and Meuse
valleys, between the
Liège , (...) there was a huge
industrial development based on coal-mining and iron-making...'.
Philippe Raxhon wrote about the period after 1830: "It was not
propaganda but a reality the Walloon regions were becoming the second
industrial power all over the world after Britain." "The sole
industrial centre outside the collieries and blast furnaces of Walloon
was the old cloth making town of
Ghent ." Michel De Coster, Professor
at the Université de
Liège wrote also: "The historians and the
economists say that Belgium was the second industrial power of the
world, in proportion to its population and its territory (...) But
this rank is the one of
Wallonia where the coal-mines, the blast
furnaces, the iron and zinc factories, the wool industry, the glass
industry, the weapons industry... were concentrated."
Wallonia was also the birthplace of a strong Socialist party and
strong trade-unions in a particular sociological landscape. At the
left, the Sillon industriel, which runs from
Mons in the west, to
Verviers in the east (except part of North Flanders, in another period
of the industrial revolution, after 1920). Even if Belgium is the
second industrial country after Britain, the effect of the industrial
revolution there was very different. In 'Breaking stereotypes', Muriel
Neven and Isabelle Devious say:
The industrial revolution changed a mainly rural society into an
urban one, but with a strong contrast between northern and southern
Belgium. During the
Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period, Flanders
was characterised by the presence of large urban centres (...) at the
beginning of the nineteenth century this region (Flanders), with an
urbanisation degree of more than 30 per cent, remained one of the most
urbanised in the world. By comparison, this proportion reached only 17
per cent in Wallonia, barely 10 per cent in most West European
countries, 16 per cent in France and 25 per cent in Britain.
Nineteenth century industrialisation did not affect the traditional
urban infrastructure, except in
Ghent (...) Also, in
traditional urban network was largely unaffected by the
industrialisation process, even though the proportion of city-dwellers
rose from 17 to 45 per cent between 1831 and 1910. Especially in the
Sambre and Meuse valleys, between the
where there was a huge industrial development based on coal-mining and
iron-making, urbanisation was fast. During these eighty years the
number of municipalities with more than 5,000 inhabitants increased
from only 21 to more than one hundred, concentrating nearly half of
the Walloon population in this region. Nevertheless, industrialisation
remained quite traditional in the sense that it did not lead to the
growth of modern and large urban centres, but to a conurbation of
industrial villages and towns developed around a coal-mine or a
factory. Communication routes between these small centres only became
populated later and created a much less dense urban morphology than,
for instance, the area around
Liège where the old town was there to
direct migratory flows.
Economic history of France
The industrial revolution in France followed a particular course as
it did not correspond to the main model followed by other countries.
Notably, most French historians argue France did not go through a
clear take-off. Instead, France's economic growth and
industrialisation process was slow and steady through the 18th and
19th centuries. However, some stages were identified by Maurice
* French Revolution and Napoleonic wars (1789–1815),
* industrialisation, along with Britain (1815–1860),
* economic slowdown (1860–1905),
* renewal of the growth after 1905.
Economic history of Germany
Based on its leadership in chemical research in the universities and
industrial laboratories, Germany, which was unified in 1871, became
dominant in the world's chemical industry in the late 19th century. At
first the production of dyes based on aniline was critical.
Germany's political disunity – with three dozen states – and a
pervasive conservatism made it difficult to build railways in the
1830s. However, by the 1840s, trunk lines linked the major cities;
each German state was responsible for the lines within its own
borders. Lacking a technological base at first, the Germans imported
their engineering and hardware from Britain, but quickly learned the
skills needed to operate and expand the railways. In many cities, the
new railway shops were the centres of technological awareness and
training, so that by 1850, Germany was self-sufficient in meeting the
demands of railroad construction, and the railways were a major
impetus for the growth of the new steel industry. Observers found that
even as late as 1890, their engineering was inferior to Britain's.
However, German unification in 1870 stimulated consolidation,
nationalisation into state-owned companies, and further rapid growth.
Unlike the situation in France, the goal was support of
industrialisation, and so heavy lines crisscrossed the
Ruhr and other
industrial districts, and provided good connections to the major ports
of Hamburg and Bremen. By 1880, Germany had 9,400 locomotives pulling
43,000 passengers and 30,000 tons of freight, and pulled ahead of
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Economic history of Sweden
During the period 1790–1815 Sweden experienced two parallel
economic movements: an agricultural revolution with larger
agricultural estates, new crops and farming tools and a
commercialisation of farming, and a protoindustrialisation, with small
industries being established in the countryside and with workers
switching between agricultural work in summer and industrial
production in winter. This led to economic growth benefiting large
sections of the population and leading up to a consumption revolution
starting in the 1820s.
During 1815–1850 the protoindustries developed into more
specialised and larger industries. This period witnessed increasing
regional specialisation with mining in
Bergslagen , textile mills in
Sjuhäradsbygden and forestry in
Norrland . Several important
institutional changes took place in this period, such as free and
mandatory schooling introduced 1842 (as first country in the world),
the abolition of the national monopoly on trade in handicrafts in
1846, and a stock company law in 1848.
During 1850–1890, Sweden experienced a veritable explosion in
export, dominated by crops, wood and steel. Sweden abolished most
tariffs and other barriers to free trade in the 1850s and joined the
gold standard in 1873.
During 1890–1930, Sweden experienced the second industrial
revolution. New industries developed with their focus on the domestic
market: mechanical engineering, power utilities, papermaking and
Meiji Restoration and
Economic history of Japan
Economic history of Japan
The industrial revolution began about 1870 as
Meiji period leaders
decided to catch up with the West. The government built railroads,
improved roads, and inaugurated a land reform programme to prepare the
country for further development. It inaugurated a new Western-based
education system for all young people, sent thousands of students to
the United States and Europe, and hired more than 3,000 Westerners to
teach modern science, mathematics, technology, and foreign languages
in Japan (
Foreign government advisors in Meiji Japan ).
In 1871, a group of Japanese politicians known as the Iwakura Mission
toured Europe and the United States to learn western ways. The result
was a deliberate state-led industrialisation policy to enable Japan to
quickly catch up. The
Bank of Japan , founded in 1882, used taxes to
fund model steel and textile factories. Education was expanded and
Japanese students were sent to study in the west.
Modern industry first appeared in textiles, including cotton and
especially silk, which was based in home workshops in rural areas.
American system of manufacturing , Interchangeable
Economic history of the United States , Technological and
industrial history of the United States , and
Industrial Revolution in
the United States See also:
History of Lowell, Massachusetts
During the late 18th an early 19th centuries when the UK and parts of
Western Europe began to industrialise, the US was primarily an
agricultural and natural resource producing and processing economy.
The building of roads and canals, the introduction of steamboats and
the building of railroads were important for handling agricultural and
natural resource products in the large and sparsely populated country
of the period.
Important American technological contributions during the period of
Industrial Revolution were the cotton gin and the development of a
system for making interchangeable parts , the latter aided by the
development of the milling machine in the US. The development of
machine tools and the system of interchangeable parts were the basis
for the rise of the US as the world's leading industrial nation in the
late 19th century.
Oliver Evans invented an automated flour mill in the mid 1780s that
used control mechanisms and conveyors so that no labour was needed
from the time grain was loaded into the elevator buckets until flour
was discharged into a wagon. This is considered to be the first modern
materials handling system an important advance in the progress toward
mass production .
The United States originally used horse-powered machinery for small
scale applications such as grain milling, but eventually switched to
water power after textile factories began being built in the 1790s. As
a result, industrialisation was concentrated in
New England and the
Northeastern United States
Northeastern United States , which has fast-moving rivers. The newer
water-powered production lines proved more economical than horse-drawn
production. In the late 19th century steam-powered manufacturing
overtook water-powered manufacturing, allowing the industry to spread
to the Midwest.
Thomas Somers and the
Cabot Brothers founded the Beverly Cotton
Manufactory in 1787, the first cotton mill in America, the largest
cotton mill of its era, and a significant milestone in the research
and development of cotton mills in the future. This mill was designed
to use horse power, but the operators quickly learned that the
horse-drawn platform was economically unstable, and had economic
losses for years. Despite the losses, the Manufactory served as a
playground of innovation, both in turning a large amount of cotton,
but also developing the water-powered milling structure used in
Samuel Slater (1768–1835) founded the
Slater Mill at
Pawtucket, Rhode Island . He had learned of the new textile
technologies as a boy apprentice in
Derbyshire , England, and defied
laws against the emigration of skilled workers by leaving for New York
in 1789, hoping to make money with his knowledge. After founding
Slater's Mill, he went on to own 13 textile mills. Daniel Day
established a wool carding mill in the
Blackstone Valley at Uxbridge,
Massachusetts in 1809, the third woollen mill established in the US
(The first was in
Hartford, Connecticut , and the second at Watertown,
Massachusetts .) The John H. Chafee
Blackstone River Valley National
Heritage Corridor retraces the history of "America's Hardest-Working
River', the Blackstone. The
Blackstone River and its tributaries,
which cover more than 45 miles (72 km) from Worcester, Massachusetts
Providence, Rhode Island
Providence, Rhode Island , was the birthplace of America's
Industrial Revolution. At its peak over 1100 mills operated in this
valley, including Slater's mill, and with it the earliest beginnings
of America's Industrial and Technological Development.
Merchant Francis Cabot Lowell from Newburyport, Massachusetts
memorised the design of textile machines on his tour of British
factories in 1810. Realising that the
War of 1812
War of 1812 had ruined his
import business but that a demand for domestic finished cloth was
emerging in America, on his return to the United States, he set up the
Boston Manufacturing Company
Boston Manufacturing Company . Lowell and his partners built America's
second cotton-to-cloth textile mill at
Waltham, Massachusetts , second
Beverly Cotton Manufactory
Beverly Cotton Manufactory . After his death in 1817, his
associates built America's first planned factory town, which they
named after him. This enterprise was capitalised in a public stock
offering , one of the first uses of it in the United States. Lowell,
Massachusetts , using 5.6 miles (9.0 km) of canals and 10,000
horsepower delivered by the
Merrimack River , is considered by some as
a major contributor to the success of the American Industrial
Revolution. The short-lived utopia-like
Waltham-Lowell system was
formed, as a direct response to the poor working conditions in
Britain. However, by 1850, especially following the Irish Potato
Famine , the system had been replaced by poor immigrant labour.
A major U.S. contribution to industrialization was the development of
techniques to make interchangeable parts from metal. Precision metal
machining techniques were developed by the U.S. Department of War to
make interchangeable parts for small firearms. The development work
took place at the Federal Arsenals at Springfield Armory and Harpers
Ferry Armory. Techniques for precision machining using machine tools
included using fixtures to hold the parts in proper position, jigs to
guide the cutting tools and precision blocks and gauges to measure the
accuracy. The milling machine , a fundamental machine tool, is
believed to have been invented by
Ely Whitney , who was a government
contractor who built firearms as part of this program. Another
important invention was the Blanchard lathe, invented by Thomas
Blanchard . The Blanchard lathe, or pattern tracing lathe, was
actually a shaper that could produce copies of wooden gun stocks. The
use of machinery and the techniques for producing standardized and
interchangeable parts became known as the American system of
Precision manufacturing techniques made it possible to build machines
that mechanized the shoe industry. and the watch industry. The
industrialisation of the watch industry started 1854 also in Waltham,
Massachusetts, at the
Waltham Watch Company , with the development of
machine tools, gauges and assembling methods adapted to the micro
precision required for watches.
SECOND INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION
Second Industrial Revolution Sächsische
Chemnitz , Germany, 1868
Steel is often cited as the first of several new areas for industrial
mass-production, which are said to characterise a "Second Industrial
Revolution", beginning around 1850, although a method for mass
manufacture of steel was not invented until the 1860s, when Sir Henry
Bessemer invented a new furnace which could convert molten pig iron
into steel in large quantities. However, it only became widely
available in the 1870s after the process was modified to produce more
uniform quality. Bessemer steel was being displaced by the open
hearth furnace near the end of the 19th century.
Second Industrial Revolution gradually grew to include
chemicals, mainly the chemical industries , petroleum (refining and
distribution), and, in the 20th century, the automotive industry , and
was marked by a transition of technological leadership from Britain to
the United States and Germany.
The increasing availability of economical petroleum products also
reduced the importance of coal and further widened the potential for
A new revolution began with electricity and electrification in the
electrical industries . The introduction of hydroelectric power
generation in the
Alps enabled the rapid industrialisation of
coal-deprived northern Italy, beginning in the 1890s.
By the 1890s, industrialisation in these areas had created the first
giant industrial corporations with burgeoning global interests, as
companies like U.S.
General Electric ,
Standard Oil and Bayer
AG joined the railroad and ship companies on the world's stock markets
OPPOSITION FROM ROMANTICISM
Industrial Revolution an intellectual and artistic
hostility towards the new industrialisation developed, associated with
the Romantic movement.
Romanticism revered the traditionalism of rural
life and recoiled against the upheavals caused by industrialization,
urbanization and the wretchedness of the working classes. Its major
exponents in English included the artist and poet
William Blake and
William Wordsworth ,
Samuel Taylor Coleridge ,
John Keats , Lord
Percy Bysshe Shelley . The movement stressed the importance
of "nature" in art and language, in contrast to "monstrous" machines
and factories; the "Dark satanic mills" of Blake's poem "And did those
feet in ancient time ".
Mary Shelley 's novel
concerns that scientific progress might be two-edged. French
Romanticism likewise was highly critical of industry.
GDP per capita
GDP per capita changed very little for most of human
history before the Industrial Revolution.
The causes of the
Industrial Revolution were complicated and remain a
topic for debate, with some historians believing the Revolution was an
outgrowth of social and institutional changes brought by the end of
feudalism in Britain after the
English Civil War
English Civil War in the 17th century.
Enclosure movement and the
British Agricultural Revolution made
food production more efficient and less labour-intensive, forcing the
surplus population who could no longer find employment in agriculture
into cottage industry , for example weaving , and in the longer term
into the cities and the newly developed factories . The colonial
expansion of the 17th century with the accompanying development of
international trade, creation of financial markets and accumulation of
capital are also cited as factors, as is the scientific revolution of
the 17th century. A change in marrying patterns to getting married
later made people able to accumulate more human capital during their
youth, thereby encouraging economic development.
Until the 1980s, it was universally believed by academic historians
that technological innovation was the heart of the Industrial
Revolution and the key enabling technology was the invention and
improvement of the steam engine. However, recent research into the
Marketing Era has challenged the traditional, supply-oriented
interpretation of the Industrial Revolution.
Lewis Mumford has proposed that the
Industrial Revolution had its
origins in the Early
Middle Ages , much earlier than most estimates.
He explains that the model for standardised mass production was the
printing press and that "the archetypal model for the industrial era
was the clock". He also cites the monastic emphasis on order and
time-keeping, as well as the fact that medieval cities had at their
centre a church with bell ringing at regular intervals as being
necessary precursors to a greater synchronisation necessary for later,
more physical, manifestations such as the steam engine.
The presence of a large domestic market should also be considered an
important driver of the Industrial Revolution, particularly explaining
why it occurred in Britain. In other nations, such as France, markets
were split up by local regions, which often imposed tolls and tariffs
on goods traded among them. Internal tariffs were abolished by Henry
VIII of England , they survived in Russia till 1753, 1789 in France
and 1839 in Spain.
Governments' grant of limited monopolies to inventors under a
developing patent system (the
Statute of Monopolies in 1623) is
considered an influential factor. The effects of patents, both good
and ill, on the development of industrialisation are clearly
illustrated in the history of the steam engine, the key enabling
technology. In return for publicly revealing the workings of an
invention the patent system rewarded inventors such as
James Watt by
allowing them to monopolise the production of the first steam engines,
thereby rewarding inventors and increasing the pace of technological
development. However, monopolies bring with them their own
inefficiencies which may counterbalance, or even overbalance, the
beneficial effects of publicising ingenuity and rewarding inventors.
Watt's monopoly may have prevented other inventors, such as Richard
William Murdoch or
Jonathan Hornblower , from introducing
improved steam engines, thereby retarding the industrial revolution by
about 16 years.
CAUSES IN EUROPE
Great Divergence Interior of the London Coal
Exchange , c. 1808.
European 17th century colonial expansion, international trade, and
creation of financial markets produced a new legal and financial
environment, one which supported and enabled 18th century industrial
One question of active interest to historians is why the Industrial
Revolution occurred in Europe and not in other parts of the world in
the 18th century, particularly China, India , and the Middle East, or
at other times like in Classical Antiquity or the
Middle Ages .
Numerous factors have been suggested, including education,
technological changes (see Scientific Revolution in Europe), "modern"
government, "modern" work attitudes, ecology, and culture. However,
most historians contest the assertion that Europe and China were
roughly equal because modern estimates of per capita income on Western
Europe in the late 18th century are of roughly 1,500 dollars in
purchasing power parity (and Britain had a per capita income of nearly
2,000 dollars ) whereas China, by comparison, had only 450 dollars.
Some historians such as
David Landes and
Max Weber credit the
different belief systems in Asia and Europe with dictating where the
revolution occurred. The religion and beliefs of Europe were largely
products of Judaeo-Christianity and Greek thought. Conversely, Chinese
society was founded on men like
Mencius , Han Feizi
(Legalism ), Lao Tzu (
Taoism ), and Buddha (
Buddhism ), resulting in
very different worldviews. Other factors include the considerable
distance of China's coal deposits, though large, from its cities as
well as the then unnavigable
Yellow River that connects these deposits
to the sea.
Regarding India, the Marxist historian
Rajani Palme Dutt said: "The
capital to finance the
Industrial Revolution in India instead went
into financing the
Industrial Revolution in Britain." In contrast to
China, India was split up into many competing kingdoms, with the three
major ones being the Marathas , Sikhs and the Mughals . In addition,
the economy was highly dependent on two sectors – agriculture of
subsistence and cotton, and there appears to have been little
technical innovation. It is believed that the vast amounts of wealth
were largely stored away in palace treasuries by totalitarian monarchs
prior to the British take over.
CAUSES IN BRITAIN
Industrial Revolution developed British manufactured
output surged ahead of other economies.
Great Britain provided the legal and cultural foundations that
enabled entrepreneurs to pioneer the industrial revolution. Key
factors fostering this environment were: (1) The period of peace and
stability which followed the unification of England and Scotland; (2)
no trade barriers between England and Scotland;(3) the rule of law
(respecting the sanctity of contracts); (4) a straightforward legal
system which allowed the formation of joint-stock companies
(corporations); (5) absence of tolls, which had largely disappeared
from Britain by the 15th century, but were an extreme burden on goods
elsewhere in the world, and (6) a free market (capitalism). "An
unprecedented explosion of new ideas, and new technological
inventions, transformed our use of energy, creating an increasingly
industrial and urbanised country. Roads, railways and canals were
built. Great cities appeared. Scores of factories and mills sprang up.
Our landscape would never be the same again. It was a revolution that
transformed not only the country, but the world itself." – British
historian Jeremy Black on the BBC's Why the Industrial Revolution
Geographical and natural resource advantages of
Great Britain were
the fact that it had extensive coast lines and many navigable rivers
in an age where water was the easiest means of transportation and
having the highest quality coal in Europe.
There were two main values that really drove the Industrial
Revolution in Britain. These values were self-interest and an
entrepreneurial spirit. Because of these interests, many industrial
advances were made that resulted in a huge increase in personal wealth
and a consumer revolution. These advancements also greatly benefitted
the British society as a whole. Countries around the world started to
recognise the changes and advancements in Britain and use them as an
example to begin their own Industrial Revolutions.
The debate about the start of the
Industrial Revolution also concerns
the massive lead that
Great Britain had over other countries. Some
have stressed the importance of natural or financial resources that
Britain received from its many overseas colonies or that profits from
the British slave trade between Africa and the Caribbean helped fuel
industrial investment. However, it has been pointed out that slave
trade and West Indian plantations provided only 5% of the British
national income during the years of the Industrial Revolution. Even
though slavery accounted for so little, Caribbean-based demand
accounted for 12% of Britain's industrial output. William Bell
Iron and Coal, 1855–60
Instead, the greater liberalisation of trade from a large merchant
base may have allowed Britain to produce and use emerging scientific
and technological developments more effectively than countries with
stronger monarchies, particularly China and Russia. Britain emerged
Napoleonic Wars as the only European nation not ravaged by
financial plunder and economic collapse, and having the only merchant
fleet of any useful size (European merchant fleets were destroyed
during the war by the
Royal Navy ). Britain's extensive exporting
cottage industries also ensured markets were already available for
many early forms of manufactured goods. The conflict resulted in most
British warfare being conducted overseas, reducing the devastating
effects of territorial conquest that affected much of Europe. This was
further aided by Britain's geographical position – an island
separated from the rest of mainland Europe. William and Mary
Presenting the Cap of
Liberty to Europe, 1716, Sir
James Thornhill .
Enthroned in heaven with the Virtues behind them are the royals
William III and Mary II who had taken the throne after the Glorious
Revolution and signed the
English Bill of Rights of 1689. William
tramples on arbitrary power and hands the red cap of liberty to Europe
where, unlike Britain, absolute monarchy stayed the normal form of
power execution. Below William is the French king
Louis XIV .
Another theory is that Britain was able to succeed in the Industrial
Revolution due to the availability of key resources it possessed. It
had a dense population for its small geographical size.
common land and the related agricultural revolution made a supply of
this labour readily available. There was also a local coincidence of
natural resources in the North of England , the
English Midlands ,
South Wales and the
Scottish Lowlands . Local supplies of coal, iron,
lead, copper, tin, limestone and water power, resulted in excellent
conditions for the development and expansion of industry. Also, the
damp, mild weather conditions of the North West of England provided
ideal conditions for the spinning of cotton, providing a natural
starting point for the birth of the textiles industry.
The stable political situation in Britain from around 1688 following
Glorious Revolution , and British society's greater receptiveness
to change (compared with other European countries) can also be said to
be factors favouring the Industrial Revolution. Peasant resistance to
industrialisation was largely eliminated by the
and the landed upper classes developed commercial interests that made
them pioneers in removing obstacles to the growth of capitalism.
(This point is also made in
Hilaire Belloc 's
The Servile State .)
The French philosopher
Voltaire wrote about capitalism and religious
tolerance in his book on English society, Letters on the English
(1733), noting why England at that time was more prosperous in
comparison to the country's less religiously tolerant European
neighbours. "Take a view of the Royal Exchange in London , a place
more venerable than many courts of justice, where the representatives
of all nations meet for the benefit of mankind. There the Jew, the
Mahometan , and the Christian transact together, as though they all
professed the same religion, and give the name of infidel to none but
bankrupts. There the Presbyterian confides in the Anabaptist, and the
Churchman depends on the Quaker’s word. If one religion only were
allowed in England, the Government would very possibly become
arbitrary; if there were but two, the people would cut one another’s
throats; but as there are such a multitude, they all live happy and in
Britain's population grew 280% 1550–1820, while the rest of Western
Europe grew 50–80%. Seventy percent of European urbanisation
happened in Britain 1750–1800. By 1800, only the Netherlands was
more urbanised than Britain. This was only possible because coal,
coke, imported cotton, brick and slate had replaced wood, charcoal,
flax, peat and thatch. The latter compete with land grown to feed
people while mined materials do not. Yet more land would be freed when
chemical fertilisers replaced manure and horse's work was mechanised.
A workhorse needs 3 to 5 acres (1.21 to 2.02 ha ) for fodder while
even early steam engines produced four times more mechanical energy.
In 1700, 5/6 of coal mined worldwide was in Britain, while the
Netherlands had none; so despite having Europe's best transport, most
urbanised, well paid, literate people and lowest taxes, it failed to
industrialise. In the 18th century, it was the only European country
whose cities and population shrank. Without coal, Britain would have
run out of suitable river sites for mills by the 1830s.
TRANSFER OF KNOWLEDGE
A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery (ca. 1766). Informal
philosophical societies spread scientific advances
Knowledge of innovation was spread by several means. Workers who were
trained in the technique might move to another employer or might be
poached. A common method was for someone to make a study tour,
gathering information where he could. During the whole of the
Industrial Revolution and for the century before, all European
countries and America engaged in study-touring; some nations, like
Sweden and France, even trained civil servants or technicians to
undertake it as a matter of state policy. In other countries, notably
Britain and America, this practice was carried out by individual
manufacturers eager to improve their own methods. Study tours were
common then, as now, as was the keeping of travel diaries. Records
made by industrialists and technicians of the period are an
incomparable source of information about their methods.
Another means for the spread of innovation was by the network of
informal philosophical societies, like the
Lunar Society of Birmingham
, in which members met to discuss 'natural philosophy' (i.e. science)
and often its application to manufacturing. The Lunar Society
flourished from 1765 to 1809, and it has been said of them, "They
were, if you like, the revolutionary committee of that most far
reaching of all the eighteenth century revolutions, the Industrial
Revolution". Other such societies published volumes of proceedings
and transactions. For example, the London-based Royal Society of Arts
published an illustrated volume of new inventions, as well as papers
about them in its annual Transactions.
There were publications describing technology. Encyclopaedias such as
Lexicon Technicum (1704) and
Abraham Rees 's Cyclopaedia
(1802–1819) contain much of value. Cyclopaedia contains an enormous
amount of information about the science and technology of the first
half of the Industrial Revolution, very well illustrated by fine
engravings. Foreign printed sources such as the Descriptions des Arts
et Métiers and Diderot's
Encyclopédie explained foreign methods with
fine engraved plates.
Periodical publications about manufacturing and technology began to
appear in the last decade of the 18th century, and many regularly
included notice of the latest patents. Foreign periodicals, such as
the Annales des Mines, published accounts of travels made by French
engineers who observed British methods on study tours.
Protestant Work Ethic
Protestant work ethic
Another theory is that the British advance was due to the presence of
an entrepreneurial class which believed in progress, technology and
hard work. The existence of this class is often linked to the
Protestant work ethic (see
Max Weber ) and the particular status of
Baptists and the dissenting Protestant sects, such as the Quakers
and Presbyterians that had flourished with the
English Civil War
English Civil War .
Reinforcement of confidence in the rule of law, which followed
establishment of the prototype of constitutional monarchy in Britain
Glorious Revolution of 1688, and the emergence of a stable
financial market there based on the management of the national debt by
Bank of England
Bank of England , contributed to the capacity for, and interest
in, private financial investment in industrial ventures.
Dissenters found themselves barred or discouraged from almost all
public offices, as well as education at England's only two
universities at the time (although dissenters were still free to study
at Scotland's four universities ). When the restoration of the
monarchy took place and membership in the official Anglican Church
became mandatory due to the
Test Act , they thereupon became active in
banking, manufacturing and education. The Unitarians , in particular,
were very involved in education, by running Dissenting Academies,
where, in contrast to the universities of Oxford and Cambridge and
schools such as Eton and Harrow, much attention was given to
mathematics and the sciences – areas of scholarship vital to the
development of manufacturing technologies.
Historians sometimes consider this social factor to be extremely
important, along with the nature of the national economies involved.
While members of these sects were excluded from certain circles of the
government, they were considered fellow Protestants, to a limited
extent, by many in the middle class , such as traditional financiers
or other businessmen. Given this relative tolerance and the supply of
capital, the natural outlet for the more enterprising members of these
sects would be to seek new opportunities in the technologies created
in the wake of the scientific revolution of the 17th century.
* Capitalist mode of production
Division of labour
Economic history of the United Kingdom
Capitalism in the nineteenth century
* Human timeline
Law of the handicap of a head start – Dialectics of progress
* The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of
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