How British Industrial Revolution Changed the World
Starting in the late 18th century, several major revolutions would take place in Western Europe. The French Revolution would play a major role in altering the political structure of France. Not long after, revolutionary principles began to spread throughout the rest of Europe. However, during the same time, a different type of revolution was also taking place in England. This revolution in England was not as rapid or violent as the one in France, but it did have a major impact on England and the rest of the world. The revolution taking place in England was, in fact, an industrial one. The Industrial Revolution that began in England would usher the world into a new era of technological and economic growth which had never been seen before.
During the second half of the eighteenth century, the Industrial Revolution had made England the wealthiest nation in the world. To get to that point, several factors would influence the start of the Industrial Revolution. One of these factors was the agricultural revolution that took place in the eighteenth century. This revolution caused a massive increase in food production, which also made it cheaper for regular people to purchase. Moreover, during the same period England experience a rapid increase in population, which meant more people could work in the factories. Furthermore, Britain had plenty of capital to invest in these industrial facilities.
The trade and cottage industry had brought Britain a tremendous amount of profits that were used effectively. Other than capital, Britain also had a steady supply of raw materials that were needed for industrial production. These raw materials were extracted from both within the country and from the vast colonies that Britain possessed. Lastly, the English had many foreign markets to which they could export their goods. The demand for British goods was especially high in the Americas, Africa, and East Asia. People in these regions of the world were primarily interested in sturdy, inexpensive goods. Such goods were being rapidly produced in England, and the needs of consumers in these markets were easily fulfilled by the English.
Before going any further, it is important to properly outline the technological advancements that were made that allowed the Industrial Revolution to take place in the first place. The cotton industry was the first to see large changes in the way products were produced. Starting in the 1770s, the cotton industry invented the modern factory. This was just one of several inventions that would lead to massive industrial production. Another leap forward was the development of the flying shuttle which increased the speed of the weaving process and made it possible for weavers to double their production. The production increased so much that it caused a shortage of yarn.
This problem was resolved in 1768 when James Hargreaves perfected the spinning yarn, allowing spinners to produce more yarn than ever before. Less than a decade later Edmund Cartwright introduced his power loom, which allowed for the weaving of cloth to be as fast as the spinning of cloth. Once these inventions had been made, entrepreneurs began to increasingly use factories as a way to produce their goods. It was far more cost-efficient and convenient to have people concentrated in one facility rather than each working in their cottage. Naturally, as the workers moved closer to the factories their families followed. This meant that more and more people began to live around the factories that they worked in.
Though all of these inventions were important for the Industrial Revolution, one invention stood out as particularly important. The invention of the steam engine allowed for not only greater production of cotton goods, but it also allowed for unprecedented production of other types of goods. The steam engine quickly replaced animals as it was able to constantly work so long as there were fuel and coal to run on. What made things even better was the fact that it seemed that there was an endless supply of coal throughout the world. The need for coal dramatically increased, and output quadrupled between 1815 and 1850. The demand for coal also had an impact on the iron industry. The process of producing iron had remained pretty much the same since the Middle Ages. However, in the eighteenth century, a new method was devised whereby iron would be smelted using coal. In the 1780s, this method was perfected, and iron began to be produced at a greater quality. Due to these technological advancements, Britain was able to increase its production of iron from 17,000 tons in 1740 to 2 million tons by the 1840s.
During the Industrial Revolution in England, the nation would also see gigantic advancements within the transportation industry. The new method of producing high-quality iron had led to the increased use of machinery in other types of industries. These advancements allowed for the invention of steamboats and railroads. In 1804, Richard Trevithick presented to the public first locomotive that was able to travel at 5 miles per hours.
Over the next decades, locomotives became faster and stronger, being able to pull many tons of goods at speeds of even 50 miles per hour. Britain also saw the construction of thousands of miles of railroads. By 1850, Britain had constructed an impressive 6,000 miles of railroads. The construction of railroads was not only good for the coal and iron industries but was, in fact, good for almost every type of industry in England. Railroads allowed people and goods to travel across the nation faster than ever before. It can be argued that the construction of railroads had a domino effect on the growth of the entire industrial economy of England.
The Industrial Revolution in England represents one of the most important periods in modern human history. After many centuries, humankind had finally discovered a way to produce and transport goods and people at a scale that our ancestors could only dream of. The Industrial Revolution began in England and would also propel the nation into an era of massive economic growth. The revolution benefited England so much that it made it the wealthiest nation in the world.
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