Industrial Revolution - Reasons why the Industrial Revolution began, Agrarian Revolution, Social conditions, Results of the Industrial Revolution

  1. Reasons why the Industrial Revolution began

. The Industrial Revolution began in G.B. because social ,political and legal conditions were particularly favourable to change. Britain was in quite a unique position. At that time, it was the only country in the world that had all the right ingredients in place for industrial growth to take off. Firstly and most importantly, there was a rising population. Between 1751 and 1851, the population of Britain had more than doubled. This created a demand for goods, which in turn stimulated growth and provided a labour force. Population growth was not unique to Britain at that time, but it was the country in the best position to meet its demands. Britain had ready access to all the raw materials it required, such as wood for charcoal, coal, iron ore, wool, and cotton .Britain was also at war with France; this in itself created an extra demand for goods, but it also taught Britain to be self-sufficient. Cut off from the rest of Europe by Napoleon, Britain had to look for other trade routes. Its citizens also had to learn how to manufacture many of the goods they needed themselves, as they could no longer purchase them from their neighbours, thereby forcing the introduction and development of new ideas. Britain also had the people to exploit these resources through their innovative new industrialists. Many were non-conformists, isolated from the rest of society and unable to enter fields like politics, so they chose to shine through business and industry. The British Government at the time was purposefully laissez-faire towards business, allowing it to develop by itself, making Britain arguably freer to develop than most countries, enabling the new industrialists to prosper.




  1. Agrarian Revolution

Change and development is continious in the history of any nation .In some conditions development

Is so slow that the pattern of society barely seems to change in the course of centuries.At other times

Circumstances combine to alter social and economic life so rapidly that the change can be noted in the

Life of an individual. After centuries of comparatively slow development in Britain, from the middle of

The 18th century ,became involved in a series of rapid agrarian and industrial changes which both to

Contemporaries and to after generations appeared revolutionary.

The factors which brought about the greatest changes in the existing system were the adoption of new

Farming techniques ,machines and methods , the enclosure of open fields and the growing population.

New farming techniques consisted of improvements in crop rotation , soil fertilization and selective

Breeding allied with the development of new machinery.

Four names are commonly associated with these innovations:

  • Jethro Tull (1674-1741) is best remembered for the invention of the seed drill, which planted in rows, rather than broadcasting, thus allowing hoeing between rows. 59177uqr77rue1p

  • Charles Townsgend ( 1674-1738) introduced marl a mixture of clay and lime –to his sandy Norfolk estates. He advocated the use of turnips


as fodder as an addition to traditional rotational crops.

  • Robert Bakewell (1725-1795) pioneered selective breeding and developed quick-fattening sheep for mutton.

  • Thomas Coke ( 1725-1842) set out to educate farmers in new methods. He initiated agricultural shows and encouraged his tenant farmers to improve their methods by granting them long leases.

In 1750 much of the British countryside was farmed by an open field system. This suited a system geared to subsistence farming. Large open fields were divided into strips either owned by freeholders or rented from the local squire by tenants. However, open fields farming was in some way wasteful. It often meant long walks between a farmer’s different parcels of land and the loss of acreage to path and tracks among the fields. It encouraged the spread of weeds and plant diseases. Fields were susceptible to damage from unfenced animals which also made selective breeding impossible .This open field system was not found everywhere. Enclosure meant joining the strips of open field to make larger compact pieces of land. Half the country was already enclosured , especially the areas catering for the markets of large cities such as London. . Some farmers had bought or exchanged land in order to facilitate enclosure. The extent of this enclosure is difficult to document as opposed to the later Parliamentary enclosures which were the climax of the transformation of British agriculture. There were two great periods of enclosure -the 1760s and '70s and the period of the Napoleonic Wars from 1793-1815. In both cases the timing was due to the opportunities for greater profits due to high cereal prices and the initiative was taken by large landowners. Prior to 1740 most land was enclosed by agreement between the major landowners but where smaller landowners opposed it an Act of Parliament had to be obtained. After 1750 this became the accepted practice.

The effects of enclosure were both economic and social. Enclosure facilitated new agricultural methods and led to more land under cultivation. It enabled livestock farming to work in tandem with arable farming and encouraged selective breeding. However, it meant a decline in the number of small landowners and cottagers and many farm labourers left for the industrialising cities. This migration away from the land was compensated for by the increased volume and regularity of employment for those who remained. There was still little labour saving machinery and enclosure meant work putting up fences and hedges, building new farms, and making roads to transport the increased volume of produce. The numbers engaged in agriculture rose from 1.7 million in 1801 to 2.1 million in 1851, but this did not match the increase in agricultural output. This meant that farm labourers were becoming more productive, which coupled with the rise in population, released workers from the land.


When assessing the changes in agriculture between 1750 and 1815 it is also important to look at its relationship with industry. In fact there were no direct links - both helped each other. True, the growth in population created a greater demand for agricultural products but at the same time farmers embraced new methods and often helped to finance improved transport systems which allowed them to feed the workers of the ever-expanding industrial cities. Landowners exploited the mineral deposits under their land, or used it for developing urban estates. Money was also moved from country banks to the cities. At the same time some industrialists invested in agriculture, sensing the possibility of high profits.

In conclusion it can be seen that in as much as there was an agrarian revolution between 1750 and 1815 it was a slow one, and a continuation of earlier changes. There was a diffusion of new ideas , but it was hindered by the considerable regional differences in agricultural practice. However, the uniquely English system of landholding was well suited to change. Large landowners had the capital to invest in innovation. It was in the interest of the tenant-farmers to change their existing methods and there was a large rural labour force on hand to carry out the changes. The end of the open field system and the enclosure of previously unusable land meant that during this period the acreage of cultivable land increased. Finally, all this meant that agriculture was able to sustain the increased demand for food caused by the growth in population, while itself reaping some of the rewards of The Industrial Revolution.



  1. Industrial Revolution qu177u9577ruue


The Industrial Revolution was a revolution which included the change of industrial methods of productivity. Its most significant issue was the development of new inventions their fast spreading. Moreover, it was a drastic transformation from “ work done by hand to work done by machine “ and it also changed the system of production: from the domestic to the factory system.


    1. The first Industrial Revolution: a) “ Iron and Coal, Steam and Textile “

Iron and Coal:

A major breakthrough in the use of coal occurred in 1709 at Coalbrookedale in the valley of the Severn River. There English industrialist Abraham Darby successfully used coke—a high-carbon, converted form of coal—to produce iron from iron ore. Using coke eliminated the need for charcoal, a more expensive, less efficient fuel. Metal makers thereafter discovered ways of using coal and coke to speed the production of raw iron, bar iron, and other metals.

These advances in metalworking were an important part of industrialization. They enabled iron, which was relatively inexpensive and abundant, to be used in many new ways, such as building heavy machinery. Iron was well suited for heavy machinery because of its strength and durability. Because of these new developments iron came to be used in machinery for many industries.

b) Steam :

If iron was the key metal of the Industrial Revolution, the steam engine was perhaps the most important machine technology. Inventions and improvements in the use of steam for power began prior to the 18th century, as they had with iron. As early as 1689, English engineer Thomas Savery created a steam engine to pump water from mines. Thomas Newcomen, another English engineer, developed an improved version by 1712. Scottish inventor and mechanical engineer James Watt made the most significant improvements, allowing the steam engine to be used in many industrial settings, not just in mining. Early mills had run successfully with water power, but the advancement of using the steam engine meant that a factory could be located anywhere, not just close to water.

In 1775 Watt formed an engine-building and engineering partnership with manufacturer Matthew Boulton. This partnership became one of the most important businesses of the Industrial Revolution. Boulton & Watt served as a kind of creative technical center for much of the British economy. They solved technical problems and spread the solutions to other companies. Similar firms did the same thing in other industries and were especially important in the machine tool industry. This type of interaction between companies was important because it reduced the amount of research time and expense that each business had to spend working with its own resources. The technological advances of the Industrial Revolution happened more quickly because firms often shared information, which they then could use to create new techniques or products.

Like iron production, steam engines found many uses in a variety of other industries, including steamboats and railroads. Steam engines are another example of how some changes brought by industrialization led to even more changes in other areas.

C) Textile

The industry most often associated with the Industrial Revolution is the textile industry. In earlier times, the spinning of yarn and the weaving of cloth occurred primarily in the home, with most of the work done by people working alone or with family members. This pattern lasted for many centuries. In 18th-century Great Britain a series of extraordinary innovations reduced and then replaced the human labor required to make cloth. Each advance created problems elsewhere in the production process that led to further improvements. Together they made a new system to supply clothing.

The first important invention in textile production came in 1733. British inventor John Kay created a device known as the flying shuttle, which partially mechanized the process of weaving. By 1770 British inventor and industrialist James Hargreaves had invented the spinning jenny, a machine that spins a number of threads at once, and British inventor and cotton manufacturer Richard Arkwright had organized the first production using water-powered spinning. These developments permitted a single spinner to make numerous strands of yarn at the same time. By about 1779 British inventor Samuel Crompton introduced a machine called the mule, which further improved mechanized spinning by decreasing the danger that threads would break and by creating a finer thread.

Throughout the textile industry, specialized machines powered either by water or steam appeared. Row upon row of these innovative, highly productive machines filled large, new mills and factories. Soon Britain was supplying cloth to countries throughout the world. This industry seemed to many people to be the embodiment of an emerging, mechanized civilization.


D) The final developments were made in transport

Between the period of 1760 and 1810 canals were built , macadamised roads and railways from 1825.


    1. The second Industrial Revolution : “ Electricity and Chemicals “

The second Industrial revolution utilized the power of electricity to help the development of technology and to help social and home life .

Further more inventions like

  1. the telegraph by S. Morse ( 1836)

  2. the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell (1876)

  3. the development of the first electric generator by Michael Faraday (1831)

  4. the electric coil/ the Tesla coil by Nicholas Tesla ( 1880)

  5. the diesel engine by R. Diesel (1892)

……. Facilitated the development of all industries and trade !


  1. Social conditions

In the factories, people had to work long hours under harsh conditions, often with few rewards. Factory owners and managers paid the minimum amount necessary for a work force, often recruiting women and children to tend the machines because they could be hired for very low wages. Soon critics attacked this exploitation, particularly the use of child labor.

The nature of work changed as a result of division of labor, an idea important to the Industrial Revolution that called for dividing the production process into basic, individual tasks. Each worker would then perform one task, rather than a single worker doing the entire job. Such division of labor greatly improved productivity, but many of the simplified factory jobs were repetitive and boring. Workers also had to labor for many hours, often more than 12 hours a day, sometimes more than 14, and people worked six days a week. Factory workers faced strict rules and close supervision by managers and overseers. The clock ruled life in the mills.

Children were exploited and forced to work in dreadful conditions. They were beaten when they didn’t do their work. Most children became very tired and were frequently found asleep on the mill floors. This was not surprising when children as young as 6 or 7 were working 14 hour days, with no substantial breaks for meals, some with only half an hour in the middle of the day to sit down, eat and rest. Even heavily pregnant women and women who had just had children were known to be working in the mills and mines.

There is evidence in reports from the mid 1800’s, including one in 1843 which said that young children working in the cotton mills and factories were beaten cruelly for making minor errors. They were said to be beaten with whatever tools their boss could find, including hammers, sticks with leather attached to them, whips, straps and files. Some children were also punched and kicked. 

At most work places there was hardly any safety precautions taken at all. There were no protective guards on the machines and most workers wore bare feet. A lot of the workers were in constant danger whilst doing their jobs. Young and small children were forced to put their lives at risk by picking up cotton from underneath deadly machinery that was still in motion. Also at the mills, older children that were too big to crawl under the machines had to pull heavy baskets all day long.

The tired children and adults that worked all day long at tip punching machines were in constant danger of their fingers or hands being punched off, some children’s arms were even broken.

Apprentice system : children had to be apprenticed to a trade ,but didn’t earn money for their work.

Another bad point about the Industrial Revolution is that the living conditions also got worse after 1750. As many peoples’ jobs moved into the towns and cities the people also ended up moving house with their jobs. The houses were built very closely together in narrow streets. Lots of them were terraced houses.

. The houses were built very closely together. People bought, for example, an acre of land and then built and sold as many houses as they could on the land with no reference to drainage or anything. Nobody could do anything about it. Most of the houses didn’t have a water supply. Some people went down to the nearest river to collect their water, although this wasn’t sufficient for drinking or washing. In some towns the water was turned on for a certain amount of time each day, in Liverpool it was turned on for four hours. The poor had to tap for it.

Another bad thing was that there were no proper refuse collections. Rubbish was thrown into the middle of the narrow streets along with sewage and all sorts of refuse. Some of the sewage in towns such as London went down gutters into the rivers, along with dead bodies of animals and humans which were also thrown in. This sounds bad enough but the place where this sort of thing was thrown was very close to where people collected their water for washing and drinking.

The population rose very quickly. Between 1801 and 1841 the population doubled from 10.5 million to 21 million. Industrial towns grew even more quickly. Manchester’s population rose from 75,000 to 450,000. Many towns grew so fast that living conditions become worse. Some families lived in the cellars of houses.

Some families managed to fit about 9 people in one tiny cellar, and also a couple of pigs! The 1840 Report on the Health of Towns recorded 39,000 people living in 8,000 one-room cellars under houses. These statistics show that living conditions were very poor in the cities in the 1840’s. Of course not everybody lived in city slums with overcrowded conditions and poor waste disposal, although the country cottages were often cold and damp.

Many children that were born died before they grew up. Cholera was the new killer disease at the time. It came into Sunderland from abroad and was spread through the water supply. There were epidemics in 1832, 1838, 1848 and 1854. Thousands died from it. Seven thousand died of cholera in September 1849 in London alone! There were also many more infectious diseases including typhoid, spread by lice and tuberculosis, carried by bacteria in the air. There were no vaccinations or cures to these new diseases, so nothing could be done but to let the children and other sufferers die.

There was a lot of poverty and quite a few homeless people.


IV. Reforms

In 1842 Parliament appointed a Royal Commission to find out about working conditions. In the mines the commission discovered the bad working conditions and did something about them. The Mines Act of 1842 stated that no females could be employed in mines and neither could boys under 10 years of age. The Factories Act of 1833 stated that no child under the age of 9 must work in a textile mill and that those up to thirteen must work for no longer than 48 hours each week and must attend school for 12 hours each week.

The wages and conditions of many workers improved with the reforms and increasing power of the trade unions. More people were allowed to vote after the 1867 Reform Act, and in 1870 the Education Act provided schooling for all children .Instead of having to work from a young age ,children of the poor were given the opportunity to learn to read and write.

The 1874 Factories and Workshops Act made a maximum of a 56 and a half hour week for all factory workers. This meant a ten-hour day Mondays to Fridays and 6 and a half hours on Saturdays. The 1878 Factories and Workshops Act applied all previous laws and sent inspectors to every workplace with machinery, so all workers in industry were protected. Working conditions were quite pleasant after these acts had taken place and the government inspectors had inspected all of the mines and factories. These reforms had improved the quality of work for nearly everybody.


There were also important reforms in living conditions. The problem of the disposal of human waste was solved by the 1875 Public Health Act. That act stated that there must be drains, toilets and underground sewage systems in all streets. The problem about the filthy water supply was solved in 1848, by the Public Health Act that stated that home owners could receive piped water in their houses for a small charge. The other main problem was the poor quality housing. This was solved by the 1875 Artisans Dwellings Act that stated that slums must be cleared, there should be thicker walls on houses and that all houses must have a sewage system.

The 1875 Public Health Act also solved the problem of poor personal hygiene. Public Baths were opened, which gave the public a place to wash.



  1. Results of the Industrial Revolution

Before the Industrial Revolution most families stayed at home for most of the day working, some even spent their leisure time at home. During the Industrial Revolution, mainly in the late 19th century, there was a growth in new entertainment. This was partly because of the working people who were beginning to get more time off work. Another reason why so many people began to travel away from their home towns and cities was because of the excellent railway network, with its’ cheap fares. This was ideal for travelling easily and quickly all around the country. It became common for factory workers to be given the Saturday afternoon off and in 1871 Bank Holidays were introduced. Many people visited their local pub and drank heavily. Others discovered new forms of entertainment including day excursions, football matches, music halls and circuses.

Another very popular form of entertainment was the music halls. All of the major cities had one, Birmingham and Liverpool had six each and London had 50. A variety of shows were on including singers, comedians, magicians and acrobats.

Another place that the whole family would enjoy visiting was the circus. People could see amazing acts and things that they had never seen before. Some famous circuses toured the whole of the country including the Barnum and Bailey’s circus.

All of these changes to entertainment that happened in the Industrial Revolution were good ones because they gave people something to do in their spare time. They let people explore places that they’d never been before, enjoy themselves with their family and friends and see unusual performances and shows, instead of staying in their own town and not going out, apart from to their local pub.

Also in the cities and towns a lot of public facilities were built for the people including shops, libraries, public baths, music halls and schools. Some of these I have already mentioned. The public could go out and enjoy themselves and again see things that they’d never seen before and find out more about the world outside of their local environment.