Industrial Changes In Britain History Essay

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Industrial Change in Britain:'There was frequent and widespread discontent' How accurate is this statement?

The Industrial Revolution is a term describing the many changes that transformed Great Britain from approximately 1760 and 1830. The main feature was the change to the factory system that depended on power driven machinery instead of manpower and the rapid growth of the cotton industry. The Industrial Revolution occurred because the scientists and inventors used their imaginations to develop new products and to exploit the opportunities of booming markets. Examples of this occurred in the textile, pottery and iron industries. The development of mining, particularly of the widespread use of coal, road improvements due to the road tolls, the building of canals, the growth of coastal shipping and the later rise of the railways were all crucial in the Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution in Great Britain meant that the country could import cotton, woollen goods, iron and steel, machinery, hardware and coal on a huge scale. Other countries were not so industrialised therefore Great Britain had a strong advantage over them.

Factory owners were able to move their products around the country more quickly, more cheaply and with greater safety than previously. For example, Britain's main fuel was coal. As the towns grew they needed more coal. The coal was heavy and difficult to transport by road. During this time many canals were built and soon a canal network made transporting coal, merchandise and communicating a lot easier. During the Industrial Revolution, the cotton industry rapidly increased with the invention of an improved spinning wheel powered by water. These machines were quickly mass-produced for factory use. Factories could be built in the towns and employ many workers. The cotton industry saw rapid growth and needed many workers to keep it going.

The increase in factories and employment meant that there was a huge amount of work to do. Many children obtained work in the factories instead of attending school. Before the Industrial Revolution, families worked hard but could also rest when they could not work. In the factories, children and adults alike were expected to work very long hours and hardly ever had free time at home. In some cases, children worked from 3am to 10pm. Children could easily be trained to work in the textile industries because it was made up of simple tasks. Sunday was a day of rest, yet in some factories, the children had to turn up for work to clean the machinery. Adults needed the money to survive and were also subjected to the long hours. Most employers were cruel and harsh. Children were beaten and adults were dismissed or threatened with dismissal to keep them in line. Factories were dirty and usually hot and dusty. Some workers became deformed or sick due to the unhealthy conditions.

Many communities moved from agriculture to manufacturing. Work shifted from peoples' homes and the small workshops to factories. Many people moved from the countryside to the towns and cities where the factories and demand for workers were found. With the increase of families in the towns, came the need for a lot more housing in a smaller area than the rural areas. Houses were divided with sometimes a whole family living in a single room. Water was obtained from a communal tap and sewage flowed along open channels in the streets. This meant that there was a shortage of water and some people used the unclean water found in pools on the street. There were many serious outbreaks of cholera and other sicknesses.

The factories relied on coal to fuel the machinery powered by steam. With the demand for coal, came the demand for coalmines and workers to work within them. As with the factories, children were employed to do this as they were small and could fit into places adults could not. Pregnant women also worked the mines. There were many accidents and deaths in the mines. The conditions were harsh and the hours were long.

Apart from the long hours worked in the factories and mines, the workers had nothing to do except drink alcohol. There were drunken people on every corner and general misery everywhere. The Industrial Revolution enabled the increasing population to be clothed and fed, yet did not allow for their safety and quality of life. The middle and the upper classes of society had increased prosperity and improved health. It was the lower classes, the thousands of workers in the factories and mines etc. that worked in harsh, unhealthy conditions for long hours, for money that was usually spent on food and alcohol, and had to live in crammed unhealthy conditions.

The Luddite Riots occurring in March 1811 to January 1813 are an example of the frequent and widespread discontent. The riots were caused by major upset owing to unemployment and reduction of wages in the textile industry at a time of wartime depression, the increase of food prices, the ban on forming trade unions and outdated regulations concerning the fixing of wages and apprenticeship. Trouble started in Nottingham where disciplined groups naming a mythical King or General Ludd as the leader, destroyed the knitting frames that had flooded the market. Outbreaks spread with the smashing of various machinery. With use of the military, the government followed a policy of severe repression with breaking of stocking frames being made a severe offence. Further outbreaks occurred periodically throughout the country.

The Industrial Revolution brought many new technological advances but with them came frequent and widespread discontent. Although the Industrial Revolution did much for technology, the people suffered. Due to the long hours and very hard work the factory workers had to endure, they suffered disease outbreaks, work related illnesses and work related accidents. Before the Industrial Revolution, the people were self-employed. After the Industrial Revolution, they worked for other people; therefore they lost control over their own lives and schedules. The people may have had jobs that provided food and clothing, but they did not have a quality of life, which is vital for every human being to be content.

There are several reason for the industrial revolution in Britain.

They are all very important as they changed the way people lived and

thought. The groundwork that it created is the basis for modern

thinking and inventing and it has been called the Second Renaissance.

One of the reasons was that around Britain all the raw materials were

in abundance. These included coal, iron and tin, but although they

were used to make simple machines, such as cattle ploughs, no one

realised they could use them to power advanced steam machines. Due to

the fact that the machines were simple the minerals were difficult to

extract and transport, as it would have to be by horse drawn cart or

sail boat. The industrial revolution made iron and coal a main

industry until 1900 when better methods were invented.

Cotton was also a main industry and in the revolution there were new

supply routes through the empire. These were more effective than the

The Industrial Revolution

Examine in detail the History of the Industrial Revolution. Discuss why Britain led the way in the Industrial Revolution and also explain in detail the effects of industrialization on society.

Had it not been for the industrial revolution, I would doubt very much that we would enjoy the technology we have in the year 2000. The reason we have this technology is that between the years 1750 and 1914 a great change in the world's history was made. People started to discover faster methods of producing goods, which increased their economy. These people were mainly British and French, but after a few years the French were distracted by their revolution, and the British continued to industrialize. However you must not think this industrialization had no effects on society because it did. So in this essay I am going to talk about the history of the industrial revolution, discuss why Britain led the way in the industrial revolution and also I am going to explain to you in detail the effects of industrialization on society.

In the midevel ages people were living in total darkness, and they did not know what was going on in the world around them. Happily the medieval ages were followed by the renaissance. Then came the year 1750, the year of the agricultural revolution in Britain which led away to a revolution in industry. Charles Townshend for example was one of the people who made the agricultural revolution possible. He suggested rotating the crops every year or two, to help the soil get enriched with vitamins and nutrition's. The America's then introduced potatoes to Great Britain. New farm machines were invented, for example Jethro Tull developed a seed drill which planted seeds in straight rows and farmers began using new iron plows in place of inofitiant wooden plows. In addition to that, the enclosure movement brought wealthy people to farm larger amounts of land, which was very good for the agricultural revolution. This revolution improved peoples diet and health leading to an increased population, which demanded healthy food, clothing and employment. Since many farmers were seeking jobs, they found it now in the textile industry, which created a new demand for laborers. You shall notice now that the mechanical inventions were so rapid and each one triggered another new one. A few examples of these inventions are the flying shuttle by John Kay, the spinning jenny by James Hargraves, the water frame by Richard Akriwght, the power loom by Edward Cartwight, Samuel Cromptons spinning mule, and Eli Whitney's cotton gin. All these inventions gave the British cotton industry a further boost. Also the new machines were expensive and had to be set up near rivers, where running water turned a water wheel to power the machines. Inventors such as Arkwright built spinning mills and for that he hired hundreds of workers all operating under the factory system. This system brought machines and workers together in one place under one roof for a number of hours each day and workers were paid daily or weekly wages.

As the industrial revolution unfolded new sources of power such as the steam engine was developed. It is true that the idea of the steam engine existed since 1698 but all along it had problems like intense pressure, or it required a lot of coal to fuel it. However in 1760 James Watt developed a perfect steam engine which revolutionized transportation. Not only so but also brought great changes in the iron and coal industries, which Henry Bessemer contributed greatly to, by developing a procedure that helped the production of steel, this stronger more workable steel triggered the growth of other industries as well.

What do these industries depend on? Yes they depend on good transportation systems to bring raw materials to factories and to distribute finished goods. Thus they started building canals between mines and factories, then a road surface, and finally the rail road industry was developed. George Stephenson developed the Rocket; the first steam powered locomotive. Also the American Engineer Robert Fulton developed a way to use steam power for ships. The postal system was also introduced by the British but this time inexpensively. And last we should remember the telegraph that sent messages by electrical impulses not only in Europe but also between America and Britain.

So after all the years we wonder why Britain lead the industrial revolution, well the reason is that they enjoyed many advantages that helped them take the lead in the revolution. As I have wrote the agricultural revolution increased food production, which freed many laborers to work in industry. Also to add to that Britain had iron and coal resources, they also had developed an excellent transportation system to speed the flow of goods. Britain was also the leading trading nation in Europe, which gave their merchants lots of capital. So as a result they used their capital to invest in textiles, mines railroads and shipbuilding. Britain also had a large colonial empire, which supplied it with raw materials for their factories. In addition people in the colonies bought finished goods produced by British industry. Also the government encouraged industrial growth, it lifted restrictions on trade, it encouraged road- and canal- building, and it maintained a strong navy to protect British merchant ships all over the world. Also the social and intellectual climate in Britain encouraged industrialization although a strong class structure existed in Britain, the British also excepted the Idea, that poor people did not have to stay poor. Instead they could better themselves.

Oh! You might think. This is great. Yes many inventions, expansions, advances in science and technology, revolution in transportation, and new methods of production. Yes. Great! But all this had another cost that society has to pay for. How? Let me explain: First you shall encounter the problems of growing cities over night. These cities that used to have quiet market places, have developed into industrial cities with thousands of workers moving quickly into poorly build houses with no sanitation systems or water systems or even ventilation systems. All this contributed to the spread of various diseases, with no laws to ensure safety or taxes to improve living conditions. As a result to this people started losing person to person contact which they enjoyed before as farmers.

Not only their houses were slums but also their factory conditions were worse with fumes, loud monotonous noise of machines,and poor lighting. Also the machines did not have safety devises incase of emergencies. And when you ask who are the people who worked for the factories? Writers answer you: men, women and children aging 5 and above. If you have read Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens you would see the picture clearly then you might wonder if the entire nation was poor now. Also if you have read another book by Dickens called Hard Times, you could picture how bad factory life is. However, this period had a vast growth of a new middle class that were now as rich as the aristocrats and sadly the factory workers had little economical and political power which made them bond together and try to improve their working and living conditions.

Here you shall witness in the years to come the rise of the labor union to get more gains for workers in wages or productivity in a safer and healthier environment. Governments now realized the demands workers and old age pensions, also public schools were set up for the workers children. Well after all these changes you would not have thought that there are any more changes to be made. If so you have forgotten how horrible living conditions were in the early industrial cities. Most of these changes were made in France and Britain and here are some examples of them! Water sewage systems, good ventilation, and building codes were set up of these. Some changes occurred in Paris, such as: the narrow crocked streets were replaced with wide attractive boulevards. Also new and better houses were constructed. However in London a police force was set up which made the city safer. Also streets became safer when the country started using gas, and later electricity to light the streets at night. Also electric streetcars were set up, which speeded up transportation.

Now I am going to ask you did you expect those rural women in their homes, cooking and sowing or working as maids to work in factories? The answer is no you would not except them to do so. However they did do so and the reason was mainly economically: to support their families. However, poor women inspite of her 12 to 16 hours of working a day they had to work at home, cooking, cleaning and sowing for their family. Yet with gradual increase in wages, women went back to their homes, and the very poor preferred to work as cooks and maids for other families and some liked working as nannies for children. This is maybe why the British nanny is popular. However home sweet home was everybody's motto, then.

Don't you agree now that this era was the greatest transformation in the history of humans, yes you might answer, but after the invention of writing, and the invention of the city and state. I also agree that all these laid the foundations for the industrial revolution. And this in turn laid the foundations for us to travel to the moon, cure the sick and live in a small world of Internet, computers and knowledge. However we need to remember that history has taught us that without acknowledging and respecting human rights I bet you that no civilization will live to see a new generation of their children live in peace and harmony. The reason for that is because their rights and privileges were taken away from them by whatever type of government rules them. However these generations will soon realize that they could gain back their rights and privileges by fighting back and forcing the government to change their ways or to make a reasonable agreement that makes both sides happy. I am also sure that the generations will not rest until they reach their goals and they will never feel good about anything until they forefill their dreams and become satisfied with what they have achieved.

MLA Citation:

"The Industrial Revolution." 16 Mar 2010


This time period is quite an exciting period to be studying the Industrial Revolution, because of the fact that there is another revolution going on in the workplace. Every time technology changes, everything around it changes, and it is an exponential process. Technology increases, and then, using the new technology, it increases even more. 20 years ago, people used filing cabinets, and a pencil and paper, but recently, with the invention of computers, all that has been turned into hard disks, and emails, and gigabytes. Before the Industrial Revolution, people were farmers, and life was pretty slow, but with inventions like the cotton gin, and the assembly line, mass production evolved. Mass production is when companies can "pump" out the same product at a very efficient and inexpensive rate. The assembly line was one of these methods. An item would be sent down a treadmill, and at each point, there would be someone to work on one aspect of it. One person would punch a hole, and the next person would put in a screw, and so on, down the line, until the item was complete. This began something called division of labor. This was when people would repeat the same task over and over again, such as in an assembly line. This was very repetitive, and quite boring.

     England was a country that was the ideal for the Industrial Revolution it was on the water, so it was perfect for trade. It had lots of natural resources, and also a large population. The population both led to more ideas, and more workers. The country was also a wealthy one, with a good economy, and therefore there were ample investors for companies to begin. The revolution eventually spread to Western Europe, and even to the Americas. There is no doubt that inventions and technology was the key to the Industrial Revolution. It changed the way things are made, it changed the price, and it changed the working conditions. It was indeed, revolutionary.

     The Industrial Revolution in Britain changed the society profoundly; it caused a complete change in working conditions and the relationship between the working and middle classes. The working conditions became very harsh during the industrial revolution. Assembly lines led to mass production, which led to the division of labor. The division of labor was a method of working which involved doing the same task over and over. It was totally mindless, and it led to bitterness towards the middle class from the working class. The managers of the factories, whom were members of the working class, became more concerned with profit vs. expenses after learning about mass production, and started to cut wages to make a quick buck. This also led to bitterness on the part of the working class.

The emergence of the strong middle class was part of the marked changed that occurred during the Industrial Revolution in Britain. These working conditions are still applicable to the factory workers of today; this shows how revolutionary they were. This was the first time in history the working and middle classes disputed over conditions, and wages. This relationship is still very common, and very important. If the workers don't complain, then they will not work as hard because of their feeling of resentment towards their bosses. And vice-versa, if the bosses don't try to lower wages, then they will have to make up for it with higher prices, and then the consumer suffers. The protest towards bosses led to the formation of unions, which are still a very important part of the economy.

The Industrial Revolution affected the whole stability of a nation, not only the economy. It affected the relationships between classes, and also the relationships between countries. The most important part is how all of these concepts are very much applicable to today's economy, which is why the Industrial Revolution was such an important period of time in the history of the world.

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MLA Citation:

"The Industrial Revolution." 16 Mar 2010