The Industrial Revolution was a time in human history that changed the way things were done and are done today. However, the Industrial Revolution in the 1700s was quite different to the one we have now, as certain errors that were made before have been avoided. T. S. Ashton, an English economic historian, defines it as a process in which innovation led to innovation, making possible immeasurable saving of time and labor and releasing circulating capital for investment in more machines or production of more goods that he called the Industrial Revolution.
On the other hand, Gregory Clark, a professor of economics, describes it as a modern era of unending economic growth and liberation from the constraints of the land base under the old organic technology. Based on the definitions above, it can be said that the Industrial Revolution was an era that introduced more efficient and effective ways of generating more capital through the use of better machines that replaced the slower, ineffective production methods.
ORIGIN OF THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION The Industrial Revolution began in England in the early 18th Century with its debut being the invention of the steam engine in 1712. The reasons for England being the birthplace of this great era are many. Firstly, England`s isolation from the rest of the continent protected it from the Napoleonic wars that were going on in mainland Europe hence it had time to build factories and develop its industries.
Secondly, England being the largest colonial empire at that time, it had access to raw materials in its colonial nations especially in Africa. Therefore, it had enough resources needed as well as African slaves that were brought to work on its many plantations. Thirdly, it had adequate supplies of coal and iron especially in Wales and northern England.
The waterways also offered great support as it was easy to navigate because no part of land was further than 20 miles from the sea making trade much cheaper. Lastly, England had more than enough capital to invest in construction of industries. This was so because in 1664 the Bank of England was established and it provided loans to candidates who wanted to open up factories and other business ventures. HOW IT CHANGED THE FACE OF ENGLAND IN BETWEEN 1700s and 1850s?
The introduction of something new always comes with changes, whether positive or negative. Those changes will be seen, felt, experienced and shared by the rich, the poor and the middle classes alike, and it was that way too during the Industrial Revolution. The economic, social and political sectors of England’s economy felt the change and were all affected by it. POSITIVE CHANGES
Agricultural Revolution One key to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in Britain was what was called the Agricultural Revolution. The Agriculture Revolution was a period of agriculture development between the 18th century and the end of 19th century which saw a massive and rapid increase in agricultural productivity and vast improvements in farm technology.
This changed how farming was previously done and it greatly increased the amount and variety of food produced. Tracing back from the Middle Ages, English farmers planted the same crop in a given field year after year and then in the third year they would leave the field uncultivated to prevent soil from wearing out.
However, a new dawn was experienced in 1730, when Charles Townshend discovered that instead of leaving fields uncultivated in the third year farmers could rotate the type of crop to be planted in the field. It was also during the 1700s that a seed drill that planted seeds in straight rows was developed by Jethro Tull. This improved farming by reducing the amount of seeds used in planting and also made weeding much easier. Transport Revolution
The Industrial Revolution changed the face of England drastically in the transport sector. In this Transport Revolution, horse carts were being replaced by trains and later cars which made travelling effective and efficient.
This was pioneered by John Macadam in between 1756-1836, a time where hard-faced roads were constructed which improved land travel. The first railroads were built in Great Britain in the first quarter of the 19th century. In the 1700s, the need for rapid, inexpensive transportation led to a boom in canal building in Britain.
In 1759, the Duke of Bridgewater built a canal to connect his coal mines and his factories. In 1829, George Stephenson, a mining engineer, developed the Rocket, the first steam-powered locomotive. Between 1840 and 1850, the British built over 5,000 miles (8,000km) of railway tracks. As steel rails replaced iron rails, trains reached speeds of 60 miles (96km) an hour.
Manufacturing Revolution The cotton industry was one of major manufacturing sectors and key developments in weaving that helped greatly in fueling the Industrial Revolution. The first innovation in the cotton industry was the flying shuttle developed by John Kay in 1733. The flying shuttle enabled the weaver to propel the shuttle through a wider strip of cloth with a single hand, and allowed the other hand to perform the combing to compact the cloth.
This hastened the process and thus increased production. The invention of the spinning Jenny developed by James Hargreaves, a carpenter, developed greatly and increased the process of weaving cotton threads into cloth.
The spinning Jenny was branded in 1767, it was a machine consisting of simple machines rather than a single machine, and it spun sixteen threads of cotton simultaneously. It is due to these great innovations that England was able to produce half of the world`s cotton cloth by 1850. Another industry that prospered in England was the steel industry and this was due to the fact that England had large deposits of coal and iron ore and this was a great advantage to England compared to other countries on the continent of Europe.
The invention that gave birth to the Industrial Revolution was the steam engine, which was developed by Thomas Newcomen and was used to pump water from mines. Due to these great innovations England became the largest producer of the world`s coal, producing two-thirds and also the largest producer of iron producing one-third world over.
NEGATIVE CHANGES The Urbanization Revolution According to Yavuz Agan, industrialization saw a movement of a massive population from country to country which led to a disruption of family life. Urbanization was one of the major changes faced by England during the industrial revolution leading to a birth of factory towns. During this change, England saw one of the largest population movements in human history as most cities grew to industrialized cities. Coal and iron which were mostly located in the midlands and the north attracted a creation of cities which rose from three cities to thirteen making the population more than 50,000 people.
A perfect example of urbanization can be that of the city of Manchester. Manchester was the center of the British cotton industry, and its population had grown to 455,000 during the Industrial Revolution. This rapid growth of Manchester brought severe problems as thousands of factory workers crowded into poorly built houses. The city had an inadequate water system and almost no sanitation system. Manchester could not tax its citizens for it to raise money for improving conditions as it was not a chartered city. The Worker`s Union Revolution
It is during the Industrial Revolution, that England saw the birth of worker`s unions, because many employers would exploit their workers by paying them very low wage and their working environments were almost unbearable. During this Industrial Revolution employees consisting of men, women and children would work for 12 to 16 hours, six days a week.
Therefore, despite the revolution bringing in prosperity some missed out as they were no paid holidays, vacations or sick leave. Their working environments were unhealthy, with poor ventilation, poor lighting, with machines not equipped with safety measures hence leading to accidents which occurred often with the company not giving compensation to injured workers. Parliament came in and signed the Mines Act of 1842 which prohibited children and women to work underground. Later, the Factory Act was signed which limited working hours of women and children aged 10-18 years old in textile mills to 10 hours a day.
CONCLUSION Every revolution brings about changes and so did the Industrial Revolution. Whether it was the introduction of the spinning jenny or the signing of the Mines Act it did change the face of England. These great innovations in this era saw England become powerful in the world as it was the largest producer of iron, coal, and cotton cloth and it saw its Gross National Product rise at an absolutely massive growth. Per capita income increased by 100%, which saw the economy increasing faster than population growth and increased the demand for labor.
This era saw the greatest movement the world has ever seen, the movement of people from country sides to cities leading to a creation of factory towns. Despite all this, the face of England was changed by this great Industrial Revolution and that change is still being experienced today.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Aston S.T., An Economic History of England in the 18th Century, p112 Clark Gregory (2001) The secrets of the industrial revolution, California Crafts, N.F.R, (1985) British economic growth during the industrial revolution, Calrendon press
Engels F, (1844), The Condition of the Working-Class in England, London: Swan Sonnenschein & Co, pp. 45, 48-53. HistorySage.com AP Euro Lecture Notes: Unit 6: Industrial Revolution The Industrial revolution: 1750-1915: Chapter 23 Yavuz E, The industrial Revolution and consequences