Industrial revolution in Britain


In this report, I will be concentrating on Industrial Revolution that happened in Britain between late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. However, the report will be based mostly on cotton as the part of the first Kondratiev Wave. This report is derived from Eric Hobsbawm's book of Industrial and Empire, chapter three, the Industrial Revolution 1780-1840.

The Industrial Evolution is development in human life cycle that was established between early eighteenth and late nineteenth centuries in city of Manchester in Britain. The early stages of Britain Industrial Revolution were mainly Cotton, which were turning into textile for making cloths. It was really booming at the time. No one knew exactly how cotton was grown. Cotton was producing in the family cottage as business before moving into factories. Women and children were employed in cotton factories business because of the cheap labour. There was other machinery like Iron work and coal mines. Production of cotton was break down into four group stages, preparation, spanning, weaving and finishing. Cotton was product in India and America. Britain import cotton from them before exporting them.

In 1838, Manchester and Salford has steam-power engine at least three times as Birmingham.

Introduction of new technology was introduced into cotton industries in 1786. Britain cotton was the best in the world in it's time and In 1764, spanning Jenny was invented by James Hargreaves. Spinning Jenny

Industrial Revolution can be describe as the social, economic and changes in human life cycle that was compiled in written and documentary evidence by some historians all over and around the global. No one knew exactly how cotton was grown. Britain's Industrial Revolution was mainly cotton, from the observation from around hundreds industries in Britain. There are activities like, coal and irons.

Industry and Empire: The Industrial Revolution 1780 - 1840 by Eric John Hobsbawm.

Purchased from John Smith, UEL Docklands campus east building on ground floor.


The chapter explained the revolution of industry in Britain between early eighteenth and nineteenth century. It further explains that British's Industrial Revolution does not only mean cotton or textile, as cotton lost its power after few generations. Cotton was yet the innovator of industrial change, and region would not have not have existed if not for industrialization, thereby spreading a new society, industrial capitalism based on production.

While towns were filled with smoke engines, it was not the same in cotton towns as Manchester and Salford supply three times more steam-power as Birmingham. In Europe, raw material was mixed with linen to produce a cheaper textile known as fustian and it was regal. In the eighteenth century, India sold their products known as calicoes; an Eastern trading sold both home and abroad was opposed cynically by the wool manufacturers. In 1700, the English woollen industry succeeded in banning imports therefore succeeding in giving the domestic cotton manufacturer something to free run in the cottage market. The home market produced a substitute for linen or wool and silk hosiery; it could be substitute for the superior Indian goods in the foreign markets, when the Indian supply export market was disrupted by war and other crisis.

In 1770, industrial cotton multiply ten times over as ninety percent of British cotton went to colonial markets and mainly to African. This also gave the industry its drive through expansion to the exports after 1750. The slave plantation of the West Indies provided its raw material until the 1790s and acquired a new and unlimited source in the slave plantation of the southern USA, which become the main dependent of economy of Lancashire. The British cotton industry lost its competitive superiority and monopoly after the First World War when the Indians, Chinese and the Japanese manufactured their cotton and even exported them and they could no longer be stopped by the British political interference. The imbalance between efficiency and spinning was the main technical problem that determined the nature of mechanization in the cotton industry. Three inventions tipped the balance: the spinning jenny of the 1760s, which enabled one cottage spinner to spin several thread at once, the water frame of 1768, which used the original idea of spinning by a combination of rollers and spindles, and the mule of the 1780 to which steam-power was applied. In the early industrial revolution was primitive technically because there was no availability of science and technology or because man shows no interest in it.

Sir Robert peel was the greatest cotton industrialist between 1750 and 1830, a man who left one and half million pounds which was large sum of money then and his son was about to become Britain prime minister. In the seventeenth century the peel family were a yeoman peasants middling status, who combined farming and domestic textile production like others in Lancashire hills.

A new based industrial system on a new technology emerged with remarkable speed ease among the rainy farmers and the villages of Lancashire. Accumulated capitals within the industries were used to replace farm mortgages, innkeeper savings, and engineer inventive and so on.

The industrialization and technical become stimulated because both the engineering and chemical industry owed so much to it and by 1830 only the Londoners contested the superiority of the Lancashire machine makers. In the late 1842, two third of Britain's coal supplies was consumed in smoky fire place in British home which stood about two third of the whole output of the Western World. British industrialization produces a miscellaneous of domestic of metal not only for tool and machines but for pipes, bridges and raw materials too. It was actually the age of Railway that boosts the production of coal and iron thereby creating a steel industry. Industrial transformation and economy growth where elsewhere but hardly has yet an industrial revolution.

In the 1830s and 40s industrial Britain pass through a crisis which reached its greatest stage. Poverty in Britain was an important factor in economic difficulties of capitalism because a narrow limit is being placed upon size and expansion of the home market for British products. It was not until 1830s and 40s did Gross capital formation in Britain pass the 10 percent threshold by then the age of cheap industrialization based on such things as textile was giving way to the age of railways, coal, iron and steel and by 1830s there was no shortage of capital anywhere.

In the 1830s and early 40s, the British history as been as tense, as political and as socially disturbed, when the working and the middle class, separately or in conjunction demand what they regarded as fundamental changes. From 1829 and 1832 their discontents fused in demand for parliamentary Reform, in which riots and demonstrations were thrown and the businessmen have the power of boycott. The middle class revived under the banner of the Anti-Corn -Law League from the 1837 crisis, that of the labouring masses broadened out into giant movement for the people's charter though the two now ran independently of and opposition to each other. In the period of 1829 to 1846 the tension was due to this combination of working class despairing because they have not got enough to eat and the manufacturers despairing because they genuinely believed the prevailing political and fiscal arrangements to be slowly throttling the economy. In the 1830s even the crudest accountant's criterion of economic progress real income per head was actually failing for the first time since 1700 and would breakdown the capitalist economy if nothing was done.

In 1840 observer began to fear all over Europe, the impoverished and disinherited masses of the labouring poor revolt. As it was pointed out by Marx and Engels in the 1840s the spectre of communism haunted Europe. If relentlessly feared in Britain, the spectre feared the economic breakdown was equally appalling to the middle class.

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The Origins of the Industrial Revolution in England

The Industrial Revolution of the late 18th and early 19th centuries not only modernised and increased productivity, raising the standard of living, but it also brought about social change which changed the English way of life, having discovered effect over the whole population. It later extend to Europe and then to America. The Industrial Revolution created the working-class from the peasant farmers, and also a new wealthier average class. It was the origin of modern Western capitalist society. Beginning with the Textile Industry, England became the first in the world to be industrialised, declaring itself to be the "Workshop of the World".

Frances Bacon (1561-1626) had had visions and predicted about the use of machines to release men from the constant labour of producing the necessities of life. These labour-saving machines would free man from working on the land and produce a new labour force. What we know as Science, would provide solutions to practical problems and this was the start of modern technology and a new social structure. A machine could do the work of many men in a certain time. This gave rise to a great period of invention and progress. It also gave cash and making of profit, a new importance that often resulted in the exploitation of the workforce.

The Industrial Revolution brought a great change from the traditional society to a modern industrial economy, but this change was not as rapid as it would be today, but took place over almost a century. Some areas developed rapidly such as in the north of England e.g. Manchester where the textile industry expanded quickly due to advances in textile technology and other areas remained rural and engaged in farming for a long period of time.

A revolution in agriculture at the beginning of the 17th century the Industrial Revolution and gave it boost. For some time, farmers had been adopting new farming methods, trying out new crops, irrigation, fertilisation and crops rotation. Higher yields resulted and food prices been reduced. This meant that people had more money to spend on goods manufacturing. Other factors contributing to the agricultural revolution were the invention of new technology and the adoption of machinery as well as the enclosure of land. Before, peasant farmers worked for their landlord and rented a piece of land for growing their own food. Landlords realized that the land could be better managed and produce a greater profit on all pieces of land and sometimes the common grazing land was enclosed in large fields. They requested Parliament to pass the enclosure acts. These acts were strongly resisted but eventually their enforcement created a land- less working class who, forced out of the rural areas, migrated to the towns to find work in the new factories.

The industry that developed and expanded most rapidly during the 18th century was the textile industry. This started as a cottage industry known as the putting - out system whereby merchants would deliver raw materials to workers in their own homes. Wool and later cotton were cleaned and spun. The merchant would collect the yarn and then deliver it to the weavers. The system was well organised but a huge rise in population in the 18th century led to demand for textile goods supply. This shortage caused people to look for ways to speed up the process and resulted in the invention of new technology. James Hargreaves invented the spinning jenny and Richard Arkwright invented the water frame which greatly improved the spinning process. Hargreaves invention was hand powered but the water frame required the purpose-built factories located nearby water supplies. These new factories employed hundreds of workers and output greatly increased. Cotton goods became cheaper and more readily available.

The invention of the steam engine developed by James Watt was a significant factor in the expansion of the textile industry. It was replaced waterpower and had the advantage of allowing factories to be located anywhere. It was also used to develop the iron industry and the railroads. The railroads improved communication and the distribution of goods. With good infrastructure in place, England was able to develop commerce and began to export manufactured goods all over the world and allowed England to become the first country to be industrialised.

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The Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution takes up to a period of nearly a century of great evolution in England's social history. Beginning in 1760, mainly rural and agricultural population eventually became urban and industrialised. Banking on discoveries made long before, advanced in agriculture, manufacturing and transportation led to new economic policies and a new social structure. New technnologies in agriculture led to an increase in the supply of food and raw materials for manufacturing and new technology led to increased production and increased commerce both in England and overseas.

Before the Industrial Revolution, most people were engaged in farming for food production and some raw materials, mainly wool, for the textile industry. The enclosure of common land and improved practices of crop rotation led to greater fertility of the land resulting in increased yields. Wooden farming implements were replaced with stronger metal ones and people began to use new farming methods and study new ideas about the breeding of animals, control of pests, irrigation and the production of new crops. Horses replaced oxen as a more efficient source of power. The result was that food was produced more abundantly and effectively enabling or forcing many people to leave the countryside and find work in industry.

Before the start of the Industrial Revolution, the production of textiles was a cottage industry carried out part time by people in their own homes. The various production processes such as sorting, carding, dyeing, spinning, weaving and finishing were often done by women and children. Wool was obtained locally but cotton and silk were imported. The merchants had to distribute the raw materials to workers scattered all over the countryside so the industry before mechanisation was inefficient.

By the early 1700s, new inventions, resisted at first by the workforce, began to modernise the textile industry. The flying shuttle invented by John Kay, allowed single person to do the work of two and the roller spinner made spinning more efficient. By 1760, many other inventions including James Hargreaves spinning jenny had been introduced. Richard Arkwright built a factory at Cromford using water power. It employed 600 people, in whom many of them were women and children who were paid lower wages. It was a model role for other factories which boost up around the countryside.

Coal mining was very dangerous in the 18th and 19th centuries. A dangerous job indeed that a fireman who had to crawl through the tunnels with a lighted candle than can explode in any smell of gas leak. Coal was removed from the mine in baskets carried by men, women and children. Later, the use of ponies and carts on rails fasten up the process. Improved ventilation in the tunnels, better transportation and the use of safety lamps eventually led to an improvement in their working conditions. Another improvement was the use of gunpowder which was a more efficient means of blasting the coal seam and led to increased production.

Abraham Darby was able to use coke to extract pig iron. Formerly, charcoal had been used causing much of the country's forests to be cut down. Darby's method produced iron which was easily broke into and clean but new techniques were discovered which resulted in high quality of iron for use in building and manufacturing of products.

Prior to the Industrial Revolution, canals and rivers had been used to transport goods and raw materials but with the rapid growth of industrial centres, faster, more efficient ways were needed to transport raw materials, finished goods, food and people and also keeping down costs and improving communication. By the middle of the 18th century, merchants and industrialists financed the building of canals linking the industrial centres. Soon after, the canals were superseded by the railways.

Between 1804 and 1820 engineers were involved with the development of the steam engine. Famous among them was George Stevenson who built the first public railroad between Stockton and Darlington. In 1829, Stevenson's steam engine, the "Rocket" won a competition sponsored by the Liverpool and Manchester Railway to find the best locomotive. The railroads began to expand rapidly overtaking the canal system, and technological advances in the used of steam-power was one of the greatest achievements of the period. James Watt invented the steam engine which replaced water powered machinery in industry as well as the railways.

The 18th century saw a period population growth partly due to improved diet. People were able to move about and began settling around the factories providing a labour force. This attracted more factories for steam power meant they no longer had to be situated where there was a source of water to drive the machinery. Rapid growth of towns without proper planning meant that they were overcrowded, dirty and lacking sanitation. Industrialisation brought about great wealth which was no longer solely in the hands of the aristocracy. Lack of credit facilities caused cash flow problems for the industrialists eventually leading to the establishment of a banking system for the country. Factory workers and their families lived and worked in appalling conditions, often working for up to fourteen hours a day. Eventually, Factory Acts were introduced to regulate and improve conditions but it was many years before the workers united to form trade unions to establish and protect their rights.

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