England is the first country where industrial related productions have commenced. In the late of the 18th and in the beginning of the 19th century (1760–1840) there were enormous socio-economic changes in England which collectively known as the Industrial Revolution (IR). It is called First Industrial Revolution or simply Industrial Revolution.
The term Industrial Revolution’ was used by European scholars – Georges Michelet in France and Friedrich Engels in Germany. It was used for the first time in English by the philosopher and economist Arnold Toynbee (1852-83), to describe the changes that occurred in British industrial development between 1760 and 1820.
- The Industrial Revolution, which took place from the 18th to 19th centuries, was a period during which predominantly agrarian, rural societies in Europe and America became industrial and urban.
- Industrialization marked a shift to powered, special-purpose machinery, factories and mass production. The iron and textile industries became the mainstay of the industrial revolution. From cooking appliances to ships, all had components of iron and steel. The process went into hyperdrive with the advent of steam engines and ships.
Each country drew upon the experiences of other nations, without necessarily reproducing any model. In Britain, for instance, coal and cotton textile industries were developed in the first phase of industrialisation, while the invention of railways initiated the second stage of that process. In other countries such as Russia, which began to industrialise much later (from the late nineteenth century onwards), the railway and other heavy industry emerged in the initial phase of industrialisation itself. Likewise, the role of the state, and of banks, in industrialisation has differed from country to country.
Technological changes that took place during the industrial revolution
During the industrial revolution, acceleration in the processes of technological innovation brought about an array of new tools and machines.
The following are key technological changes that took place during the industrial revolution:
- The invention and improvement of the steam engine brings fruits in the IR. The engine was made of iron and fuelled primarily by coal. Coal played a vital role in the IR
- Textiles: During the period, the organization of cotton production shifted from a small-scale cottage industry, in which rural families performed spinning and weaving tasks in their homes, to a large, mechanized, factory-based industry.
- The boom in productivity began with a few technical devices, including the spinning jenny, spinning mule, and power loom.
- Agriculture: Several factors came together in 18th-century Europe to bring about a substantial increase in agricultural productivity.
- These included new types of equipment, such as the seed drill developed by Jethro Tull around 1701. Progress was also made in crop rotation and land use, soil health, development of new crop varieties, and animal husbandry.
- The result was a sustained increase in yields, capable of feeding a rapidly growing population with improved nutrition.
- Energy: The mining and distribution of coal set in motion some of the dynamics that led to Britain’s industrialization. The coal-fired steam engine was in many respects the decisive technology of the Industrial Revolution.
- Transportation: Concurrent with the increased output of agricultural produce and manufactured goods arose the need for more efficient means of delivering these products to market.
- Steam engines and railways became important features of the industrial revolution during the 19thcentury.
Social and economic changes that took place during the industrial revolution
A lot of socio-economic change took place during the Industrial Revolution. It changed the character and culture of people in the whole world.
- Population Explosion: Advancement in technology and better agricultural production led to better medical facilities and greater employment which led to population explosion.
- Development of Banking and Finance System: the middle class began opening up new factories for which they required financing and therefore, the banking and finance system began developing.
- Status of Women: The Industrial Revolution marked a dramatic change for women as many of them entered the workforce for the first time. Women had to compete with men for jobs. Female factory workers often made only one-third as much as men.
- Rising Middle Class: The middle-class men started owning factories, sent their male children to school and rose up in society due to an increase in wealth.
- Urbanisation: People started moving to urban areas in search of better jobs in factories due to which these areas became highly populous with poor housing facilities.
- The exploitation of resources: industrial Revolution made the production of goods easy and ready in much less time. Therefore, more and more goods began to be produced which led to the exploitation of resources.
Why Britain was the first to experience Industrial Revolution?
Britain was the first country to experience modern industrialisation.
- It had been politically stable since the seventeenth century, with England, Wales and Scotland unified under a monarchy. This meant that the kingdom had common laws, a single currency and a market that was not fragmented by local authorities levying taxes on goods that passed through their area, thus increasing their price. By the end of the seventeenth century, money was widely used as the medium of exchange. By then a large section of the people received their income in the form of wages and salaries rather than in goods. This gave people a wider choice for ways to spend their earnings and expanded the market for the sale of goods.
- In the eighteenth century, England had been through a major economic change, later described as the ‘agricultural revolution’. This was the process by which bigger landlords had bought up small farms near their own properties and enclosed the village common lands, thus creating very large estates and increasing food production.This forced landless farmers, and those who had lived by grazing animals on the common lands, to search for jobs elsewhere. Most of them moved to nearby towns.
- From the eighteenth century, many towns in Europe were growing in area and in population. Out of the 19 European cities whose population doubled between 1750 and 1800, 11 were in Britain.The largest of them was London which served as a hub for country’s markets.
- London had also acquired a global significance. By the
eighteenth century, the centre of global trade had shifted
from the Mediterranean ports of Italy and France to the
Atlantic ports of Holland and Britain
- The centre of the country’s financial system was the Bank of England (founded in 1694). By 1784, there were more than a hundred provincial banks in England, and during the next 10 years their numbers trebled. By the 1820s, there were more than 600 banks in the provinces, and over 100 banks in London alone. The financial requirements to establish and maintain big industrial enterprises were met by these banks.
- England was fortunate in that coal and iron ore, the staple materials for mechanisation, were plentifully available, as were other minerals – lead, copper and tin – that were used in industry. However, until the eighteenth century, there was a scarcity of usable iron. Iron is drawn out from ore as pure liquid metal by a process called smelting. For centuries, charcoal (from burnt timber) was used for the smelting process. This had several problems: charcoal was too fragile to transport across long distances; its impurities produced poor-quality iron; it was in short supply because forests had been destroyed for timber; and it could not generate high temperatures.The solution to this problem had been sought for years before it was solved by a family of iron-masters, the Darbys of Shropshire. In the course of half a century, three generations of this family – grandfather, father and son, all called Abraham Darby – brought about a revolution in the metallurgical industry. It began with an invention in 1709 by the first Abraham Darby (1677-1717). This was a blast furnace that would use coke, which couldgenerate high temperatures.
- The British had always woven cloth out of wool and flax (to make linen). From the seventeenth century, the country had been importing bales of cotton cloth from India at great cost. As the East India Company’s political control of parts of India was established, it began to import, along with cloth, raw cotton, which could be spun and woven into cloth in England.Till the early eighteenth century, spinning had been so slow and laborious . But a series of technological inventions successfully closed the gap between the speed in spinning raw cotton into yarn or thread, and of weaving the yarn into fabric.
Canals were initially built to transport coal to cities. Thiswasbecause the bulk and weight of coal made its transport by road much slower and more expensive than by barges on canals. The demand for coal, as industrial energy and for heating and lighting homes in cities, grew constantly. The making of the first English canal, the Worsley Canal (1761) by James Brindley (1716-72), had no other purpose than to carry coal from the coal deposits at Worsley (near Manchester) to that city; after the canal was completed the price of coal fell by half.