Industrial Revolution (1760 – 1840) in Great Britain

Agricultural Revolution

  • The term agricultural revolution refers the radical changes in the method of agriculture in England in the 17th and 18th
  • The Agricultural Revolution preceded the Industrial Revolution in England.
  • Rotation of crops was introduced by Townshend and the lands became fertile by this method.
  • Bakewell introduced scientific breeding of farm animals.
  • The horse-drawn ploughs, rake, portable threshers, manure spreaders, multiple ploughs and dairy appliances had revolutionized farming.
  • These changes in agriculture increased food production as well as other farm outputs.
  • During the Agricultural Revolution, 4 key changes took place in agricultural practices.
    • Enclosure of lands,
    • Mechanization of farming,
    • Four-field crop rotation and
    • Selective breeding of domestic animals.

Industrial Revolution

  • The term ‘Industrial Revolution’ was used by European scholars; Georges Michelet in France and Friedrich Engels in Germany.
  • It began in Great Britain and within a few decades had spread Western Europe and the United States.
  • The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in the period from about 1760 to 1840. It includes
    • Hand production methods to machines
    • Improved efficiency of water power
    • Increasing use of steam power
    • Development of machinery and technologies
    • Changes in the cotton and iron industries
    • Faster forms of transportation by ships and railways

Causes for the Industrial Revolution


  • England is the political center of Great Britain, an island.
  • Great Britain did not suffer fighting on its land during the wars of the 18th century.
  • Island has excellent harbors and ports.
  • Damp climate (moist climate) benefited the textile industry.
  • Colonial possessions of England, which supplied raw materials and served as markets

2. Scientific Inventions

Textile Machinery

  • The invention of flying shuttle by Kay in 1733 improved weaving.
  • In 1764, Hargreaves invented the ‘spinning jenny’. It could spin 8 threads at the same time, instead of one.industrial revolution
  • In 1785, Cartwright invented the power loom.
  • The cotton gin increased productivity or removing seed from cotton.
  • The invention of the sewing machine by Elias Howe, in 1846, speed-ed up the production of clothing.

Steam power

  • Heavy machinery could not function with out power to operate it.
  • The invention of the steam engine provided the practical solution.
  • It was invented by James Watt in 1765. He devised the first closed cylinder with a piston pushed back and forth by steam.industrial revolution

Iron and steel making

  • The coal and iron industries replaced old technologies of wood, water and wind.
  • In 1709 Darby introduced coal for charcoal in blast furnace.
  • John Smeaton invented the blast furnace with a rotary fan.
  • Henry Cord and Peter Onions introduced puddling and rolling Process in 1784.
  • In 1740 steel was produced at Sheffield by Huntsman.
  • Later, Henry Bessemer invented a faster and cheaper method of producing steel.

3. Development of Transport

Road ways

  • In the second half of the 18th century, John McAdam (1756-1836) built a type of hard-surfaced road in England.
  • The only important change made in this method was the substitution of a tar composition for mud as a binder.

Water ways

  • The heavy expenses involved in the building and upkeep of highway encouraged the development of inland waterways.
  • Thousands of miles of artificial water route were dug in England, in France, and in the United States.
  • The rate of travel was slow and the expense of construction and maintenance was high.

Rail ways

  • The first tracks were made of wood and the first cars were horse drawn.
  • But the introduction of iron for rails and the application of Watt’s steam engine for traction power revolutionized the whole procedure.
  • George Stephenson constructed the first practical locomotive in 1814.

4. Communication

  • Telegraphic equipment was widely installed after 1845.
  • The penny post was established in 1840. The Universal Postal Union, to aid international mail service, was adopted in 1875.
  • Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876.

5. Colonies and Markets

  • England had more colonies than any other nation.
  • Its colonies gave England access to enormous markets and vast amounts of raw materials.
  • Colonies had rich textile industries for centuries
  • Many of the natural, such as calic and gingham, were originally created in India. China had a silk industry.

Social Changes in Industrial Revolution

Improved Status and Earning Power of Women

  • Factory owners hired women and children because they worked for lower wages.
  • Governments limited the work of children and, at times, of women.
  • Before industrialization, it was almost impossible for a woman to remain single and live on her own.
  • Women fought for and eventually gained political rights.

Increase in Leisure Time

  • Labor saving devices invented and produced like Vacuum cleaners, Washing machines and Refrigerators.
  • Birth of the weekend; Traditionally, Western nations had Sunday (the Christian day of rest) as the only day off from work.

Labor Movement

Domestic system

  • Workers and employers knew each other personally.
  • Workers could aspire to become employers.

Factory system

  • Workers no longer owned the means of production.
  • Employers no longer knew workers personally.
  • Factories often run by managers paid by the corporation.
  • Relationships between employers and employees grew strained.

Problems of the Factory System

  • Factories were crowded, dark, and dirty.
  • Workers labored from dawn to dusk.
  • Women and children were paid less for the same work.
  • Factories run only by profit.
  • Technological unemployment workers lost their jobs as their labor was replaced by machines.

Rise of Labor Unions

  • Before labor unions, workers bargained individually – “Individual bargaining”
  • With labor unions, workers bargained together as a group, or collective – “collective bargaining”
  • Organized groups of workers elected leaders to bargain on their behalf.

Legal Protections for Workers

  • Limited hours for women.
  • Equal pay for equal work.
  • Child labour ended.
  • Minimum wage.
  • Legalization of unions.

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