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The Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution was quite an exciting time period to be studying, because of the fact that there is another revolution going on in the workplace today. The changes we see in front of us today are far different then the ones of the industrial revolution but similarities can be made. Technology, it increases even more 0 years ago, people used filing cabinets, and a pencil and paper, but recently, with the invention of computers, all that has been turned into hard disks, and emails, and gigabytes. Before the Industrial Revolution, people were farmers, and life was pretty slow, but with inventions like the cotton gin, and the assembly line, mass production evolved it. The industrial revolution transformed the world from a rural agriculturally dependent civilization, to an urbanized state. It all started in Britain in the 18th century. The Industrial Revolution in Britain changed a great deal between 1750 and 100. This period is called the Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution was the point in time where industry grew, and became one the main countries involved in importing and exporting goods, also developing more factories and businesses. In 1750 most people lived in the countryside. They lived in small village communities, raising crops and animals. By 100, most people worked in towns. Even in the countryside, the traditional way of life was gone forever.

Why did it start in Britain?


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Britains population rose quickly between 1750 and 100 from about 7 million to about 7 million people by 100. The reasons for the huge increase were due to a lot of things. Firstly Infant mortality was lower, and people were living longer due to better living conditions, cleaner water and improved medicine. Other reasons were that people married earlier and had children, people had large families so the children could all earn money in the factories to support their family, and finally farming improved, so there was cheaper food. The increase in population lead to the Industrial Revolution by the lack of jobs in the countryside, so more people searching for jobs came to the towns.

Change of Jobs

In the early 18th century most people lived and worked in the countryside, on the land. Most villagers owned about large fields which were divided into strips (www.kidinfo.com), but by the end of the century this had changed, and most fields had become enclosed. Enclosure was where the strips were done away with, so farmers had land all together. It was fenced or hedged off from their neighbour. The common land was also turned into enclosed fields. This hit the poor people hard, they now had nowhere to graze their livestock. This was all caused by the rise in population, so more food had to be grown. Villages were enclosed to accommodate this new and better way of farming. The consequences of this were that more food was grown to feed the ever-increasing number of British people. This led to the start of the industrial revolution because after this new way of farming new ideas came into the countryside, farming machines. These machines meant that fewer jobs were available because the machines took over. It was at times like these, the poor people joined forces and made groups likeThe Swing Rioters that went around destroying the machines that lost them their jobs.


In 1750 the transport system was very poor; the roads were extremely basic and most people walked or rode on horseback. Goods went very slowly by river or horse-drawn wagons. The roads were improved by charging tolls to use the roads (www.worldhistory.com). Gates and toll houses were put beside the roads, and all money raised went to improving or even building new roads. The people who organised these changes were groups of business men called Turnpike Trusts. They controlled ,000 miles of road out of a total of 105,000 miles of road. In 180 they developed ways of building stronger roads that dealt with heavy traffic. The roads were gravelled in most places, but in big towns like London some of the more important streets would have been cobbled. They would not have been smooth, easy roads to travel on, and even with better roads it was still hard to move heavy goods around.

Canals were developed to move things like iron and coal, but were a slow means of transport, although people and goods travelled by water if possible. Some canals were straightened and deepened for easy access around the country. By 185 many canals had been built and a network of water ways linked the most important industrial areas together.

The railway system for passengers first began in 185(www.darex.com). Railway travel revolutionised life in Britain, Europe and America. Trains were faster than canal boats and cheaper than horse-drawn coaches. They also carried heavy raw materials and manufactured goods. By the late 1th century, they were carrying regular passengers to work or on holiday excursions to seaside resorts.

New Ideas and Individuals

The industrial revolution could never have happened without the individuals who saw how to make a lot of money from new inventions and new ideas. One such person who helped cause the industrial revolution was James Watt. James Watt made the steam engine, invented by Thomas Newcomen, much more efficient. It was needed for pumping out mines and stopping them from becoming flooded. Watt went on to invent a rotative steam engine to provide power for mills and factories that were being built all over Britain. Until the invention of this kind of steam engine, factories were mainly powered by water, turning a water-wheel, or horses walking round a circular track. Watt had the idea of turning the steam back to water - or condensing it - in a separate container instead of in the cylinder, so that the cylinder would always remain hot. He built a model of his separate-condenser engine and discovered that the idea worked. The steam was fed from the cylinder into the chamber until it all condensed, while the cylinder remained hot. In 1774, Watt went into partnership with Matthew Bolton, a manufacturer in Birmingham, England. The engines proved highly successful at pumping water from mines, especially in Cornwall where there were many tin and copper mines that were at risk from flooding. In 1781, Watt improved his engine by making the cylinder double-acting. His first engines - like those of Newcomen - had supplied power on the down stroke only, when the piston was forced downward inside the cylinder. In his double-acting engine, steam was allowed into the cylinder and condensed first on one side of the piston, then on the other, so that power was produced on both the up and down strokes. This innovation almost doubled the power of his engines.

During this time the industrial revolution was in full swing, and the factories and mills that were being built all over the country needed power to drive their machinery. But they needed rotary power to turn a central shaft round and round. This rotary motion, which was provided by horses walking around a circular track or the force of water to turn water-wheels, was then transferred to the factory machinery through a series of gears. Watts engines, with their up-and-down motion, were good at pumping water out of mines but were of little use for driving factory machinery. After much persuasion by Bolton, Watt developed a rotative steam engine that was soon put to use in the factories and mills throughout the country.


Between 1750 and 100 Britain built up a huge empire. Britain wanted an empire so they could create better access to different parts of the world for good trade, and for the English to be powerful. Queen Victoria used the countries in the British Empire as allies for if war ever came about. The importation and exportation of goods to England reached a peak at that time, due to the British Empire. The slave trade also helped Britain become a very rich country. This was also known as the Triangular Trade because there were three journeys involved in the slave trade. Journey 1 From Britain to West Africa trading cloth, guns, and metal. Journey From West Africa to South America, the West Indies and North America trading slaves. Journey North America to Britain trading sugar, tobacco, rum and cotton. This affected the Industrial Revolution because Britain gained from the slave trade by Being able to buy sugar, tobacco, rum and cotton cheaply. The British merchants became rich, so with their money they built factories canals and railways that everyone benefited from.


During these 150 years Britain changed from being a small island into a world empire. This was mainly achieved by Modernised Technology, in the ways of better factory machinery that produced goods more quickly and new, better, and quicker means of transport both within and between countries. These qualities made other countries interested in Britain and want to become associated with it. These components formed the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and the start of the British Empire.

How where the industries operated

Working hours (www.historyguide.org)

It was not uncommon for people to work up to fourteen hours a day in the factories. They where made to get up at very early hours of the morning and work up until twelve or one o clock. Children where effected most by this as they were working up to twelve hours a day. A survey was carried out by doctors in 186. It was found that ten hours a day was the utmost time spent working at any time in order not to damage health. Although the same survey stated that long hours not exceeding ten hours was not damaging.

If children arrived late for work they would also have money deducted from their wages. Time-keeping was a problem for those families who could not afford to buy a clock. In some factories workers were not allowed to carry a watch. The children suspected that this rule was an attempt to trick them out of some of their wages.

Child workers

Many parents were unwilling to allow their children to work in these new textile factories. To overcome this labour shortage factory owners had to find other ways of obtaining workers. One solution to the problem was to buy children from orphanages and workhouses. The children became known as pauper apprentices. This involved the children signing contracts that virtually made them the property of the factory owner.

Pauper apprentices were cheaper to house than adult workers. It cost Samuel Greg who owned the large Quarry Bank Mill at Styal, a £100 to build a cottage for a family, whereas his apprentice house, that cost £00, provided living accommodation for over 0 children.

Owners of large textile mills purchased large numbers of children from workhouses in all the large towns and cities. By the late 170s about a third of the workers in the cotton industry were pauper apprentices. Child workers were especially predominant in large factories in rural areas. However, in the major textile towns, such as Manchester and Oldham, parish apprenticeships was fairly uncommon.

Factory pollution (www.evensville.net)

One on the major complaints made by factory reformers concerned the state of the buildings that the people were forced to work in. A report published in July 18 stated that most factories were dirty; low-roofed; ill-ventilated; ill-drained; no conveniences for washing or dressing; no contrivance for carrying off dust and other effluvia.

Sir Anthony Carlyle, a doctor at Westminster Hospital visited some textile mills in 18. He later gave evidence to the House of Commons on the dangers that factory pollution was causing for the young people working in factories labour is undergone in an atmosphere heated to a temperature of 70 to 80 and upwards. He pointed out that going from a very hot room into damp cold air will inevitably produce inflammations of the lungs.

Doctors were also concerned about the dust from flax and the flue from cotton in the air that the young workers were breathing in. Continuous breathing of this unclean air led to diseases and major lung and skin problems.

Most young workers complained of feeling sick during their first few weeks of working in a factory. This initial reaction to factory pollution became known as mill fever. Symptoms included sickness and headaches.

The dust and floating cotton fibre in the atmosphere was a major factor in the high incidence of tuberculosis, bronchitis, asthma and byssinosis amongst cotton workers.

Mass Production

Mass production is when companies can “pump” out the same product at a very efficient and inexpensive rate. The assembly line was one of these methods. An item would be sent down a treadmill, and at each point, there would be someone to work on one aspect of it. One person would punch a hole, and the next person would put in a screw, and so on, down the line, until the item was complete. This began something called division of labor. This was when people would repeat the same task over and over again, such as in an assembly line. This was very repetitive, and quite boring.


The industrial revolution had some bad aspects to it but let us not forget the good it brought to the world. The industrial revolution brought the world from a rural almost medieval state to the modern state we live in today. The industrial revolution was the bridge that carried us forward. The inventions and the combining of different aspects of Britain in the 18th centaury caused the country to develop rapidly. This revolution soon hit Europe and the Americas and modernized the entire world. Agriculture still plays a major role in today’s society but due to the industrial revolution it is not our only source of income. The industrial revolution was very hard on the poor but the technological advancements maid in that era make one of most important eras in world history

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