The Industrial Revolution, c.1800-c.1890

The Industrial Revolution, c.1800-c.1890

Early Stages and Causes

  • The Agricultural Revolution in the 18th century led to increased crop yields and population growth in Britain, providing a workforce for industry.
  • Britain had access to abundant natural resources, such as coal and iron, essential for industrial processes.
  • Developments in technology, particularly steam power, kickstarted industrialisation.
  • Britain’s economic policies, including the promotion of entrepreneurship and free trade, fostered a conducive climate for industrialisation.

Key Developments in Industry and Technology

  • The textile industry was the first to industrialise, with inventions such as the spinning jenny and the power loom significantly increasing production.
  • The use of steam power in the form of the steam engine revolutionised various industries, from mining to transportation.
  • The development and expansion of the railway system transformed transport and trade, fostering the movement of people, goods, and ideas.

Social and Economic Impact

  • Urbanisation saw massive growth in urban areas, particularly in industrial cities like Manchester and Liverpool.
  • The growth of a working class tied to factory labour and wage earning, living in overcrowded and often unsanitary conditions.
  • Emergence of a middle class of business and factory owners who accrued wealth and social influence.
  • Increase in overall prosperity, but also a rise in income inequality as industrialists accumulated vast wealth while factory workers lived in poverty.

Industrialisation in Europe and World

  • Industrialisation spread to other parts of Europe, albeit slower than in Britain. Belgium, France, and Germany saw significant industrial growth in the first half of the 19th century.
  • Industrial Revolution led to global changes including the imperialism of many industrialised nations, seeking new markets and resources.
  • Effects were felt worldwide, with economic exploitation in colonies and semi-industrialised nations providing raw materials for the industrialised economy.

Responses to Industrialisation

  • Rise of social and political movements challenging the capitalist system, including Chartism and socialism.
  • The Trade Union movement emerged, fighting for worker’s rights, improved working conditions, and better wages.
  • Philanthropic efforts from middle-class reformers led to improvements in housing, education, and public health.
  • Industrialisation led to significant environmental changes, with pollution and environmental degradation becoming increasingly prevalent.