At first the continent was close behind to Britain in industrialization but by 1815 the situation changed. Britain was in peace and therefore had no destruction and during the Napoleonic wars it continued to grow. However, on the continent the French Rev. disrupted trade, created runaway inflation and fostered social anxiety. War severed the communication between Britain and continental Europe, severely handicapping continental efforts to use the new British machinery and technology. It was a time of catastrophe for continental Europe and thus they got further and further behind Britain.
This gap made it more difficult if not impossible for other countries to follow the British pattern in energy and industry after peace was established in 1815. Also, British technology had become so advanced and complicated that very few engineers or skilled technicians outside England understood it. Also, steam power had gotten more and more expensive. It involved large investments of coal and iron and after 1830, the existence of railroads which were very costly. Continental business had trouble finding the large sums of money the new methods demanded, and there was a shortage of laborers accustomed to working in factories. All of these disadvantages slowed the spread of modern industry.
3 advantages after 1815: 1) continental countries had a rich tradition of the putting out enterprise, merchant capitalists and skilled urban artists giving them the ability to adapt and survive in the face of new market conditions 2) continental capitalists did not need to develop their own advance technology, instead they just needed to "borrow" or copy Britain's new methods, as well as engineers and some of the financial resources these countries lacked. 3) European countries such as France and Russia also had a third asset that many non - western areas lacked in the 19th C. They had strong independent governments that did not fall under foreign political control. These governments could fashion economic policies to serve their own interests, as they proceeded to do. They would eventually use the power of the state to promote industry and catch up with Britain.
Part of a second age of talented entrepreneurs. He was a business pioneer in the German machinery industry. Serving in England as a Prussian army officer during the Napoleonic wars, Harkot was impressed/enchanted by what he saw. He concluded that Germany had to match all of these English achievements as quickly as possible. Setting up shop in an abandoned castle in the still tranquil Ruhr Valley, Harkort felt an almost religious calling to build the steam engines and become the "Watt of Germany"
His idea was simple but really hard to do. Lacking skilled laborers to do the job, Harkort turned to England for experienced, though expense, mechanics. Getting materials also posed a great problem. He had to import the thick iron boiler that he needed from England at great cost. In spite of all of these problems, Harkort built and sold engines, winning fame and praise. His ambitious efforts over 16 years also resulted in large financial losses for himself and his partners and in 1832, he was out of his company by his financial backers, who cut back on operations to reduce losses. His career illustrates both the great efforts of a few important business leaders to duplicate the British achievement and the difficulty of the task, Entrepreneurs like Harkort were obviously exceptional. Most continental businesses adopted factory technology slowly and handicraft methods lived on. Indeed continental industrialization usually brought substantial but uneven expansion of handicraft industry in both rural and urban areas for a time. Artisan production of luxury items grew in France as the rising income of the international middle class created foreign demand for silk scarves, embroidered needlework, perfumes and fine wines.
Nevertheless, those who thought conditions were getting worse for working people were probably in the majority. Scholarly statistical studies have weakened the idea that the condition of the working class got much worse with industrialization. But most recent scholarship also confirms the view that the early years of the Industrial Rev. were hard ones for British workers. There was little or no increase in the purchasing power of the average British worker from about 1780 to almost 1820. The years from 1792-1815, a period of constant warfare with France, were particularly difficult. Food prices rose faster than wages, and the living conditions of the laboring poor declined. Only after 1820 and especially after 1840 did real wages rise substantially so that the average worker earned and consumed roughly 50% more in real terms in 1850 than in 1770. In short, there was considerable economic improvement for workers throughout Great Britain by 1850, but that improvement was hard won and slow in coming. This important conclusion must be qualified however. 1st, the hours in the average workweek increased, as some economic historians now believe it had been increasing in parts of northern Europe since the late 17th C. Thus, workers earned more money simply because they worked more. England nonagricultural workers labored about 250 days a year in 1760 as compared to 300 days a year in 1830. The normal workday remained an exhausting 11 hours. Days of leisure and relaxation declined rapidly between 1760-1830 and by 1830 nonagricultural workers worked 6 days a week. 2nd the wartime decline in the average worker's real wages and standard of living from 1792-1815 had a negative effect of workers. These difficult years of war, with more unemployment and sharply higher prices for bread, were formative years for the new factory labor force and they colored the early experience of modern industrial life in somber tones. However, after the french wars it seemed the standard of living rose. The first factories were cotton mills, which began functioning in 1770s along fast running rivers and streams and were often located in sparsely populated areas. Cottage workers in the vicinity were reluctant to work in the new factories even with relatively good wages because factory work was unappealing. In the factory, workers had to keep up with the machine and follow its relentless tempo. Moreover, they had to show up every day, on time, and work long, monotonous hours under the constant supervision of demanding overseers, and they were punished systematically if they broke the work rules. Fines were imposed, deducting from wages and Children/teens were often beaten for their infractions. Cottage workers were not used to that kind of life and discipline. All members of a family worked long and hard, but in spurts setting their own pace. They could interrupt their work whenever they wished. Women and children could break up their long hours of spinning with other tasks. On Saturday afternoon the head of the family delivered the week's work to the merchant and got paid. Saturday night was a time of relaxation and drinking (especially for men). Recovering from his hangover on Tuesday, the weaver bent to his task on Wednesday and then worked frantically to meet his deadline on Saturday and might pull and all nighter to get his work done. Also, early factories resembled English poorhouses, where totally destitute people went to live at public expense. Some poorhouses were industrial prisons, where the inmates had to work in order to receive their food and lodging. The similarity between large brick factories and large stone poorhouse increased the cottage workers' fear of factories and hatred of discipline. It was cottage workers' reluctance to work in factories that prompted the early cotton mill owners to turn to abandoned and pauper children for their labor usually contacting local officials to employ them. They were often badly treated and terribly overworked in the mills as they were apprenticed as chimney sweeps, market girls, shoemakers and so fourth. In the 18th C. the semi forced child labor seemed necessary and was socially accepted. Now it is cruel.