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Benefits Of Early Industrialisation In Britain History Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

Early industrialisation in Britain has led to long term benefits for the country. Using evidence to support your argument, state whether you agree or disagree with this statement.

From last 18th century industrialisation occurred in Britain. It was an important technological revolution which bought significant changes to Britain. In fact several circumstances led industrialisation occurred in Britain, for instance geographic location, prior agriculture revolution, cheap labour, expansion of domestic market and colonies, a series of machineries inventions and establishment of factories. The effect of early industrialisation can be seen today establishment of urbanisation, flourishing towns and cities particular in the north, improvement of living standard, advanced railway running north and south. However due to external and internal influences, manufacturing has declined in Britain and Long term benefits of early industrialisation has shifted to developing countries.

Britain was the first country to industrialise, and it was the central manufactory of the world, certain conditions led to Britain leading industrialisation in Europe, such as the capitalist society, geographic location, cheap labour, expansion of colonies, raised in demand, expansion of domestic market and availability of Coal and Iron. The Market was generated by the capitalists, they reduced the cost of production, unified the market and sped up the manufacturing process in order to achieve higher profits, therefore Machineries gradually replaced manual labour and cheap workers were employed by the factories. Before 18th century, numbers of people gathered together produced hand-made textile at home or in small shops. As rose in demand for textile, it expanded British domestic market, it stimulated talent people invented machineries. As Kemp (1969) states that “the expansion of markets was therefore a condition for the application of new techniques and methods of organization to production.” In 1733 flying shuttle was invented by John Kay, it only sped up weave process, and in 1764 the first textile machine was invented by James Hargreaves, it improved the process of manufacturing textile and enabled the establishment of textile factories afterwards. Numbers of large scales textile factories were established by Capitalists, they reduced the cost of production, sped up work efficiency and more products were supplied to the market. “The profitable utilization of productive equipment required the expenditure of human muscular and mental powers.”(Berlansterin, 1992) Numbers of People were employed by the capitalism textile factories in a lower salary because the labour was cheap. Previous changed in agriculture which known as enclosure movement, capitalists enclosed huge amount of lands from famers and converted the farmlands into sheep farming, in terms of cultivated wool and mutton from the sheep. Only small numbers of labour were employed in those farms. But lots of workers sought or jobs so that they migrated from rural area to urban area labour became very cheap. Since machines were too heavy to operate by human strength, steam Engine was invented by James Watt in 1774. Eventually “the steam engine now became the centre of modern factory system.”(Kemp, 1969).As the progressive of new textile machines and steam engines required iron and coal ,Britain had abundant natural resources coal and iron in north-west England. With the increasing in manufacturing products, People sought convenience way to transport goods. Therefore road were built and transported by carriage. On the other hand Bulletin13(1969) states that Britain was also beneficial from its geographic location, it is enclosed by ocean and strait, continents were connected by rivers, eventually numbers of canals were established such as Bridgewater Canal, Caledonian Canal and New Junction Canal, they improved the previous transportation tool, more goods were transported narrow area. Since vast manufactured goods need to be transported, carriage and canals couldn’t satisfy the requirement. In 1829 railway established, larger quantity and favourable quality goods were delivered to different area, also time was saved as while. Before industrialisation Britain already had favourable overseas trade with other countries, such as tea and sugar. Afterwards goods such as textile, wool and cotton were exported to overseas markets. As the new trade route to Indian and America had been discovered by British, it opened up a wider international market. With the expansion of British colonies, more lands and raw materials import to Britain, and manufactured goods were exported to other countries particularly to America.

“During the 18th century the proportion of industrial output exported rose from a quarter to a third, and multiplied eight times in value. Textiles still predominated, but cotton replaced wool and export cargoes became much more varied. However the biggest change was in their destination – America became Britain’s biggest market. In 1800 nearly 60 per cent of Britain’s exports crossed the Atlantic. And the major cargo was human – British merchants were responsible for shipping over three million slaves, from Africa, to the slave plantations of the Caribbean and southern USA.”(MacLeod, 2004)

However Industrialisation did not occurred in other European countries due to several circumstances such as lack of investment of new industry, for example Spain used to be the most powerful country in Europe during the middle centuries, it had favourable geographic location which surround by ocean so it was famous by navigation. And it was led by agriculture and trade as the main economic entity, in addition there were large amount of capital generated from its colonies – America which was abound in resources such as gold and silver.

“Spain as a whole became considerably richer during the sixteenth century, and her importance in the European economy increased dramatically because the massive inflow of gold and silver from the Americas. From being the far edge of the world had become the centre of it.”(Cipolla, 1981)

furthermore Spain produced textiles as while, but it was produced by manual labour instead of machine. The market was restrictive due to the controlling of feudalism, therefore no formation of new industry in the country.

“Spanish failure was due to bottlenecks in the productive system, in particular the lack of skilled labor, popular prejudice against craft and trade, and the guilds with their restrictive practices Increased demand did stimulate some growth: between 1570 and 1590the annual production of woollen cloth rose to 13,000 pieces in Segovia. Yet production failed to grow fast enough to satisfy the expanding demand. (Cipolla, 1981)

Industrialisation has benefited Britain in the short term. First of all the formation of Urbanisation and improved the living standard, these changed the life of people in both town and village. Previously the domestic works were hand-made textiles and other industries which almost whole family took part in it. When industrialisation occurred in Britain, large numbers of people moved from countryside to north urban area and employed by the industries. On the other hand, due to enclosure movement, most of famers were forced to sell their lands to capitalists, eventually they gathered together in large quantity and settle down in north towns where factories established. The main attraction of migration was the development of factories and most of important factories located in north, therefore workers came alone this area.

“The different countries knew Liverpool, Birmingham, Glasgow and Sheffield as pioneer in British industrial development .The development of factory system encouraged the workers to come to the cities and rapid urbanization took place.”(Kemp, 1983)

Moreover migration causes an increase in population in that area. As a result of industrialisation, both trade and industries developed, more money and profits generated by capitalism market, national wealth increased, people sought for comfortable life style eventually standard of living improved.

However currently manufacturing has declined in Britain, and grow in service industry, such as banking and tourism. Manufacturing used to be the mainstay industry in the country, and the central of manufacturing of the world, it occupied large proportions of national economy generation. However in current situation, service industries become the mainstay industry in Britain and manufacturing is in recession the three main factors which causes declined were Natural progression of society, high labour cost in Britain and trade competition with developing countries. According to research, it shows manufacturing declined in both textile, and coal mining business. In the beginning of 19th century, there was huge demand on textile products and coal mining. However with the national development and social progress, the demand for textile, coal and iron became saturated, less consumption on manufacturing products. Therefore declined in manufacturing is an inevitable outcome.

In1950, the coal mining business used to be British energy industry mainstay industries. In 1913, British coal output reached 2.92 billion tons, it was an all-time high result. In 80 century, the proportion of energy consumption down to 32.1%, therefore large quantities of coal mining factories closed. The British government shut down 36 coal mine factories; due to the tendency of downward energy consumption this makes the number of employment in coal mine has dropped sharply. For example, in Scotland, the northeast area in the 1960s there was 106 coal mining factories, but currently only seven left.” (BBC News, 2002)

The labour cost is relatively high in Britain, because of social development and economic growth in the past 200 years, it increased the labour cost. On the other hand high labour cost and slow manufacturing process made export difficult to other countries, these factors reduced the advantage of trade competition. Most of the mechanical equipments were invented during the industrialisation, though development of technology which improved the principal operation of the equipments, the main function remains the same, as Britain is a Capitalist countries, it’s not worth to spend large amount of money on replacement of old machineries.

Eventually manufacturing has shifted to developing countries. Developing countries have large populations so labours are relatively cheap. And they owned advanced machineries which accelerated manufacturing process and improved the work efficiency, due to the late industrialized, previous old machineries have developed into advanced ones. These factors allow developing countries access to trade market, and has important role in export goods. For example China manufactured it export to different countries.

According to research “In 2001, China ranked 6th in the world in terms of merchandise export volume. Three years later Chinese merchandise trade volume reached 1154.74 billion US Dollars in 2004. China became the 3rd largest merchandise trader in the world after United States and Germany in 2004. In 2003, China became the largest source of imports in Japan and the second largest for the European Union after the United States. In the United States market, China replaced Mexico as the second largest supplier after Canada in 2003.” (Wen, 2004).

In conclusion, industrialisation has benefited Britain in the first 150 years, formation of urbanisation, advanced transportation and people’s living standard has improved as while. However with the progressing of British society, the market became saturated, labour cost became expansive in Britain and trade competition with developing countries, manufacturing has declined in Britain and service industry rises. The long term benefit of early industrialisation has shifted to developing countries such as china, because developing countries have international trade competitive advantage than developed countries, they beneficial from massive population, so labour is relatively cheap. Developing countries have advanced machines due to the late industrialized. As a result, although industrial revolution occurred in Britain, early industrialisation has benefits the country in short term, the long term benefits of early industrialisation shifted to developing countries.

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