The Industrial Revolution

An industrial revolution is a fundamental economic that happens between 1770 and 1850 the economy of England changed from mostly agricultural to mostly industrial.
This was the result not of one key invention but of technological progress in different fields coming together. Its center is the development of factories (which hadn't really existed before this time), but they couldn't have developed without better transportation creating larger markets and better transportation couldn't have existed without the growth of the iron industry, which couldn't have grown without steam engines. Society had a hard time adjusting to the new economic system

Causes of the British Industrial Revolution:
expansion of trade, mercantile economic policy (see previous lecture) decline of (1) feudalism--farmers were no longer bound to the land;(2)guild system--the guild for a particular trade could no longer control who set up a new business;(3)the system of customary prices--the market is more free, instead of the old system where changing the price because of a shortage was seen as profiteering;(4) agricultural changes;(5)enclosure is the abolishment of the old system of communal farming and its replacement with family farms. Supposedly everyone had the same share of land as before, but the smallest farmers didn't have enough to survive as an independent farm and they went out of business and went looking for work.  It took place 16th century to about 1820;(6)four field crop rotation--wheat, turnips, barley, clover or alfalfa (turnips and hay crops make it possible to keep more livestock). New scientific approaches to farming average agricultural surplus per worker doubled from about 25% to about 50%. Workers no longer needed in agriculture were available for industrial jobs.

By 1720 most iron in England was imported due to a shortage of charcoal for smelting
in 1709 Abraham Darby invented a way of smelting iron using coke (processed coal) instead of charcoal
the iron industry took off
after 1760 since iron ore and coal were both very plentiful in England
1779 Iron Bridge ( photo )
The Steam Engine:
Newcomen Engine (about 1712) filled a cylinder with steam and then condensed it to draw the piston down.  1/2% efficient, but widely used to pump water out of coal mines.

Watt Engine (1774) had had a separate condenser, making the engine much more efficient
James Watt later added (1)sun and planet gear converted reciprocating into rotary motion to power machines;(2)automatic control mechanism;(3)double-acting engine made for much smoother power.
Transportation Technology improved roads built in large numbers 1750-1815 (about 1000 miles), reduced transportation costs 20-30%
The Duke of Bridgewater's Canal started in 1759--7 miles but had to cross a river valley.  People thought this was a wild dream, but built in 5 years.  Very profitable--halved the cost of coal in Manchester
canal building boom 1750-1800--by 1830 England had 3875 miles of navigable water (though only 1/3 of that was canals).  The Oxford canal paid a 30% return for 30 years.
Provided much cheaper transportation of bulky goods.
The Factory System:
the first big industry was cotton textile factories, though other kinds of factories developed as well
machines had been used some by workers who did piece work at home with spinning wheels and hand looms.  What brought the workers together into a factory was the invention of machines for spinning that could spin more than one thread at a time and then the application of water power first to spinning and then to weaving
James Hargreaves, Spinning Jenny , invented 1764-1770
Roger Arkwright, Water Frame , 1769
Samuel Crompton, Mule , 1774-1779
Edmund Cartwright, Power Loom, 1786-1788
With these technologies the industry took off--by 1833 237,000 people were employed in cotton textile factories in England
this was a whole new way of life
46% of workers were women, 15% children under the age of 13 ( Child Labor )
wages were barely enough for a family to survive if all members over the age of 8 worked
in some areas 1/2 to 3/4 of worker families lived in a single room with no plumbing (dumped their chamber pot into the street or gutter)
for examples see  Living and Working Conditions in the Industrial Revolution
reform laws started in 1833-- factory act of 1833 forbade employment of children under 9 and limited hours for children to 9 hours a day for children 9-13 and 12 hours a day for children 13-18
Chartist movement fought unsuccessfully for political change, but conditions gradually improved


Julian Hoppit (2011). The Nation, the State, and the First Industrial Revolution. The Journal of British Studies, 50, 307-331. doi:10.1086/658184.

Vries, J.D. (1994). The industrial revolution and the industrious revolution. The Journal of Economic History, 54(2), 249-270

Allen, R. C. (2009). The british industrial revolution in global perspective. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Henderson, W. O. (1954). Britain and industrial europe, 1750-1870: Studies in british influence on the industrial revolution in western europe. Liverpool: University Press

Stearns, P. N. (1972). The impact of the industrial revolution: Protest and alienation. Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Prentice-Hall.

Outman, James L, Outman,Elisabeth M. (2003). Industrial revolution. Detroit: UXL.