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The Industrial Revolution

The agricultural revolution summary
At the time of the Industrial Revolution major changes in farming practices were already occurring throughout Britain. These changes completely revolutionised agriculture. Increases in farm production provided food for the growing population, particularly the expanding workforce.
How did traditional open-field farming work
It usually involved the rotation of different activities across three large elds. One field would carry a crop of wheat or rye, and one a crop of barley, while one would be allowed to lie fallow. Each year the crops would be rotated, so each field would lie fallow for one year in every three. Grazing took place in the fallow field, helping to fertilise it, making it ready for planting the following year.
What was the Traditional open-field farming based on
The traditional open- eld village was based on subsistence farming, producing only enough food for
its inhabitants, who were peasants or tenants of the landowner.
How did peasants make a living with open-field farming
Each village household was allotted a number of strips in each field. These would usually be spread
out so that everyone had equal access to the best land. There was also an open area of common land where everyone had the right to graze livestock and collect firewood.
How long did the open-field system work for
The open- field system had worked well for centuries, and in 1750 about half of all farming in England still relied on this approach.
Disadvantages of the open-field system
It was very inefficient because:
- one-third of the land was left unplanted each year
- pathways separating the strips of land were not used
for crops
-time was wasted when each farmer had to look after a number of strips scattered across the different elds.
• Weeds and animal diseases could spread easily when everyone was sharing so much of the available land.
• There was very little opportunity to try new crops or new methods, because everyone had to grow the same crops and work together.
Major changes to agriculture
The agricultural revolution involved three main developments:
• enclosure of the open elds
• the adoption of new techniques of farming
• the change to a more business- oriented approach to farming.
Enclosure involved the consolidation of open elds into single farms, owned by one farmer, and separated from neighbouring farms by
hedges or low stone walls.
What are the benefits of enclosure
Enclosure gave the farmer/landowner greater control over the total area
of the farm; less productive land
was wasted, and animals were kept separate from neighbours' livestock.
How did enclosure effect the peasants
some wealthy landowners began to enclose their land, voiding the rights of peasant farmers to pursue their traditional strip farming. If the newly enclosed farm was large enough, it could be subdivided and smaller farms leased out to these same peasants. The peasants were forced either to become paid employees on the enclosed farm or to seek work in nearby towns.
When did enclosure begin
Sixteenth Century
Jethro Tull's seed drill
In 1700, agricultural inventor Jethro Tull developed a horse-drawn seed drill that could plant three rows of seed at a time. A hole would be drilled for seeds to be dropped in, the hole covered and the
drill moved forward to the next planting position. It is estimated that this invention produced a ve times bigger crop for the same area of land than had been achieved using the old methods.
How was planting traditionally done
Traditionally seed was scattered by hand into ploughed furrows. This often meant a lot of wastage as the wind could blow much of the seed away or birds could eat it.
Who invented the first seed drill
Jethro Tull
The Rotherham plough
In 1730 Joseph Foljambe patented the Rotherham triangular plough. This plough had an iron blade and
was lighter and easier to handle than the rectangular wooden ploughs that had been used previously. Instead of being drawn by a team of four oxen, and requiring both
a ploughman and an ox driver, the Rotherham plough could be drawn by two horses and handled by one person. The Rotherham plough proved to be quicker and more ef cient, and signi cantly reduced costs for farmers.
Changes in crop rotation methods
As the open elds were enclosed, new systems of crop rotation were introduced. The most successful of these was the four-crop rotation system introduced on his
own estates by Lord Charles Townshend, or 'Turnip' Townshend as he became known. His farm was divided into four elds, with wheat in the first, turnips in the second, barley in the third, and clover in the fourth. Each year the crops would be rotated by one field, so that in the second year, the first field would contain clover, the second wheat, the third turnips and the fourth barley. This rotation continued over a four-year cycle. The planting
of clover and turnips following the crops of wheat and barley helped replace nutrients in the soil, and therefore helped produce better crops the following year. The clover was used as a nutritious summer food for livestock, while turnips could be fed to animals in winter. This meant that livestock no longer needed to be slaughtered before each winter.
Improved stock breeding methods
Farmers such as Robert Bakewell began selective breeding of sheep and cattle. Only the largest and strongest animals were mated, and this produced offspring with the best characteristics. Bakewell also cross-bred different types of sheep to produce the best breeds for both wool and meat production. His New Leicester breed, introduced in 1755, proved to be a great success.
A business approach to farming
Before the eighteenth century, farming activity was mainly directed towards satisfying local food and clothing needs. Any produce left over could be sold or traded at markets, but this would entail only a small proportion of farming output. The great improvements of the agricultural revolution not only increased the amount of food available to the farmers and their workers, but provided increasing surpluses that could be sold to feed the growing urban population. The rural population grew very slowly, but the output per person employed in agriculture rose dramatically. Exporting grain to other countries also brought pro ts to farmers who were prepared to innovate and embrace new methods of production.
Horse power
The oldest form of power available
to humans was their own physical muscle power. Horses, donkeys and oxen had been used as beasts of burden since ancient times, and
were still commonly used in the eighteenth century. Long-distance travel was usually carried out on horseback or in a horse-drawn cart
or carriage. Poor people who did not own a horse tended not to travel more than a day's walk form their homes. Carts drawn by teams of oxen were used to transport goods over long distances, and teams of oxen had been used for centuries to plough the elds
Canals or boats
Canal boats or barges used to move goods were hauled along by horses walking along tow-paths on the canal bank
Horse power threshing machine
For example, the horse-powered threshing machine was used to separate grain from the stalks and husks of the wheat plant (see Source 1 ). This machine was invented in 1784 by a Scotsman, Andrew Meikle.
Water power
Water power had been used in England since ancient Roman times. A water wheel with blades or buckets around its rim would be driven by owing water, usually from a swiftly owing stream or river (see Source 3 ). The power generated by the turning water wheel was used to mill grain into our. Early sawmills used water wheels to power large circular saws. Many of the rst textile mills in England were powered by water, with the force of the water suf cient to drive machines in multi-storey factory buildings.
Wind power
Like water power, wind power had been used in England for centuries. The wind had been used to drive
ships since ancient times, and sailing ships were the standard form of sea transport for several hundred years until the mid nineteenth century. Windmills were introduced to England in the twelfth century. They were used primarily for milling grain to make our, and later to drive pumps to drain surplus water from marshlands.
Newcomen steam engine
One of the most signi cant advances of the Industrial Revolution was the development of steam power. While the potential of using steam to provide power had been known for centuries, the rst practical steam engine was the 'atmospheric engine' developed by Thomas Newcomen in 1712 (see Source 6 ). This machine used steam to drive a piston, which powered a large horizontal beam. The Newcomen atmospheric engine was used primarily to pump surplus water out of underground mines, particularly coalmines. The Newcomen engine was a huge step forward
because it allowed underground coalmines to be sunk
to greater depths. Removing excess water had always been one of the barriers to deep-pit mining, and so had restricted the amount and quality of coal that could
be extracted (see spread 2.6). The coalmining industry really took off from the mid eighteenth century. As the Industrial Revolution gathered pace, coal would prove to be a very important fuel.
James Watt's steam engine
The next big step forward was
James Watt's steam engine, developed about 1769. Watt produced an engine that had a separate compartment for cooling the steam back to water, after it had been used to drive a piston.
Instead of driving a large beam, Watt's steam engine powered a large ywheel, so it could provide the same type of continuous power that had previously been possible only with a water wheel. This meant the steam engine sold by Watt and his partner, Matthew Boulton, could be used
to power many different types of machinery (see Source 7 ).
As we shall see later in this chapter, the development of the steam engine was to be a pivotal event in the Industrial Revolution. Steam engines were able to power larger and larger machines, which in turn led to
bigger factories. Their successful use in coalmines saw coal replace wood
as the major fuel source. Steam was to revolutionise both land and sea transport in the nineteenth century as railways and steam-driven ships came into use.
The Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was arguably the most important period of change in modern history. It marked the beginning of the technological revolution that continues to affect our lives. Before the Industrial Revolution, people produced things they needed in ways that had not changed in centuries. The Industrial Revolution saw new ideas being applied to producing goods. It began in Britain in the mid eighteenth century. By the mid nineteenth century it had effected enormous changes in the ways people worked and lived, and these changes had begun to spread around the world.
Textile industry
Britain's Industrial Revolution began in the textile industry. In the mid eighteenth century, spinning and weaving were done by farming families and agricultural labourers at home in the evenings after toiling in the elds all day. By the end of the century textile work was done almost entirely in factories using machines.
Inventions in the textile industry
Several inventions revolutionised the textile industry. From 1764 the spinning jenny spun eight threads at a time instead of one. In 1769 Richard Arkwright's new water-powered spinning machine produced thread
even faster. As a result, spinning began to move out of farm cottages to factories located near streams. After
the invention of James Watt's steam engine in 1769, steam power became an even more practical option. The steam engine was applied to the cotton textile industry in the 1780s.
Why was Britain able to become the workshop of the world
So changes in one industry affected many industries. All of this meant increased demand for factory workers, raw materials and markets. Britain was able to take advantage of these developments and become the 'workshop of the world' because it had resources, wealth from colonial trade, and ships to import raw materials and to export manufactured goods.
Working conditions
Over the nineteenth century the proportion of Britain's population that worked in factories and mines increased enormously. Between 1841 and 1901 the population of England and Wales rose from 16 million to 35 million. Almost all of this increase was absorbed by the growing cities and towns. Industrial workers paid a high price for the wealth that was produced. Long hours for low pay under appalling conditions were normal in most industries. A 60-hour working week was customary for most workers in the 1860s.
Trade unions
Workers tried to improve their conditions by forming trade unions. Some skilled workers' organisations had existed before the Industrial Revolution. However, in 1799 such organisations were banned under the Combination Acts, which made it illegal for workers to join together to ght for better pay and conditions. When these Acts were repealed in 1824, workers used strikes and pickets to try to win some justice. In 1825 the British government again virtually outlawed these tactics.
Despite this resistance trade unionism grew rapidly
in the 1820s, especially in the textile industry. For a
time during the 1830s British trade unionism re ected a concern not only with the immediate issues of pay and conditions but with fundamentally changing society. Some unionists worked to form cooperative societies, running their own businesses so eventually there might be no need for the capitalists who owned the factories.
Australian Trade Unions
Although Australia was not a highly industrialised country, it inherited its trade union traditions from Britain. The rst Australian unions emerged in the 1840s,
but unionism became stronger between the 1860s and the 1880s. There were huge strikes during
the 1890s, when employers tried to destroy many of the gains won by Australian workers. Although these strikes were defeated, at the beginning of the twentieth century Australia had one of the highest levels of trade union membership in the world.
The Industrial revolution and Australia
During the British Industrial Revolution, Australia became a signi cant supplier of primary products to Britain, especially wool and wheat. Mining also prospered, famously with the gold rushes that began in the 1850s, and later with other minerals. Manufacturing, in contrast, accounted for only a small part of the Australian economy.
Railways in Australia
Railways grew from the 1850s. New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria each used a different track gauge. In 1883
New South Wales and Victoria were linked by rail as their lines met on the Murray River. However, because of different gauges, neither colony's trains could run on the other's tracks. People and goods moving between the colonies had to change trains at the border.
Australian isolation
News from the outside world reached Australia by ship, so Australians often learned of overseas events months after they occurred. Reducing this isolation became possible following the invention of the electric telegraph by Samuel Morse and Alfred Vail in 1836. The rst telegraph system began operating in England in 1837. The telegraph carried messages along wires by electric pulses. Morse code enabled telegraph operators to send messages in combinations of short marks called 'dots' and longer marks called 'dashes' that represented different letters. Trained operators could then translate these messages.
The eastern Australian colonies were linked by telegraph wires in 1859. In the following decade undersea telegraph cables linked much of the world, though not yet Australia. In 1870 the South Australian government reached
an agreement with the British-Australian Telegraph Company. The company would extend its undersea
cable from Java to Darwin, and the South Australian government would build the Overland Telegraph from
Darwin to Adelaide. The 3200-kilometre line was completed in 1872, nally linking Australia by cable
to London. An exchange of messages now took only hours rather than weeks.
The importance of transport
In pre-industrial times, most goods were produced in small quantities by local producers to suit local needs. Industrialisation often meant that production moved away from local supplies and local markets. If a factory relied on water power, it had to be located next to a fast- owing river. If it relied on steam power, proximity to coal and water supplies would be necessary. Factories were not producing just for the local market. They needed reliable means for transporting large quantities of raw materials to the factory and nished products away from the factory.
The rst major canals of the Industrial Revolution were built to transport coal from the Lancashire coal elds to newly developing industrial cities. The Sankey Canal, built to carry coal to the city
of Liverpool, was opened in 1757. The Bridgewater Canal, opened in 1761, carried coal to the growing city of Manchester. Alongside each canal was a towpath on which the horse towing a barge would walk (see spread 2.4). One horse could tow a barge carrying ten times the weight that could be loaded onto a cart.
Canal Charges
The canals were privately owned, so those who built them were able to charge a fee to anyone wishing to transport goods on them. This meant they paid for themselves within a few years, and were soon making a pro t for their owners. Even with the fees paid to canal owners, transporting coal by canal was considerably cheaper than transporting by road. In a few years the price of coal in cities like Liverpool and Manchester had halved, making steam power even more economical. The nancial success of the Sankey and Bridgewater canals inspired many others to invest in canal building, and the next fty years saw a period of 'canal mania'. Between the 1760s and 1815 more than three thousand kilometres of canals were built across England to carry raw materials to factories and nished products away to markets.
Before the eighteenth century, every man in a village
was expected to provide his labour free of charge for a certain number of days each year to maintain local roads. Major roads between large towns and cities received little maintenance and were often in a very poor state of repair.
Turnpike trusts
In the late seventeenth century, local magistrates were given the power to charge tolls on the use of main roads to provide funds for maintenance. From 1707 onwards groups of nominated trustees were given the power to collect these tolls and supervise road maintenance. These toll roads were known as turnpikes, and the groups of trustees called turnpike trusts. By
the 1750s most of the main roads leading to London
had been converted to turnpikes.
Road upgrades
The quality of roads between major cities improved dramatically during this time, although the less important roads remained in a poor state. Eventually the railways took business away from the turnpikes, rendering them unprofitable, and road maintenance became the responsibility of local councils.
One of the biggest advances in transport came with the growth of the railways. This development came as a result of applying steam engines to tramway systems. The first public railway was opened in north-east
England in 1825. Designed to carry coal from mines near Darlington to the port of Stockton, it employed George Stephenson's 'Locomotion No. 1' locomotive. Before long, the owners expanded its activities to provide a passenger service with a regular timetable.
In the meantime, Stephenson and his son Robert were contracted to build a railway line between Manchester,
the largest textile producing city, and Liverpool, a major port almost 60 kilometres away. The line, opened in 1830, was designed to import raw materials to Manchester and to return completed goods to Liverpool for export. Stephenson's latest locomotive, the 'Rocket', was used to haul both goods and passengers between the two cities. The line was a huge nancial success and became the model for a succession of railways that were soon constructed throughout Britain. The following twenty years saw rapid expansion in the railway network.
Why was Britain able to take advantage of the Industrial Revolution
Britain was able to take greatest advantage of its Industrial Revolution because of its extensive trade networks. This enabled it to import large quantities of raw materials from around the world, process these in its factories and export the finished products to worldwide markets.
A trading nation
Long before the Industrial Revolution, Britain had
built up trade networks throughout the world. British naval power began to grow during the second half of
the sixteenth century, encouraging the establishment of colonies in North America and the West Indies. In the seventeenth century British trade with Asia expanded, with the East India Company establishing trading posts in India. British trading interests were keen to remove competition from other countries, such as France. Victory in the Seven Years' War (1756-63) allowed Britain to take over many French colonies in North America, India and the Caribbean.
As the rst country to experience industrialisation, Britain was able to use its industrial strength to build an empire. Raw materials would be imported by ship and processed in British factories, and then the nished products exported, often to the same colonies that had provided the raw materials. By 1800, Britain had the beginnings of a worldwide empire, which provided valuable sources of raw materials to feed industrial growth. As we have seen, the cotton industry was a major source of industrial growth, but British industry was soon able to process raw materials imported from almost every continent. In order to
protect its trading routes, Britain also established the most powerful navy in the world, along with a very prosperous shipbuilding industry.
Raw Material
Canada- Furs, timber, fish
Jamaica- Sugar, coffee
British Guiana- Sugar, tobacco
Gambia- Cocoa
Bermuda- Salt, whale oil, baleen
India- cotton, tea, timber, sugar
Penang and Malacca- spices, timber
Ceylon (now Sri Lanka)- tea, timber, cocoa
New South Whales- whale oil, Baleen, wool
Developments in shipping
Until the late eighteenth century,
all ships were built of timber and powered by sail. The Industrial Revolution brought two major changes to shipping. Advances in the processing of iron led to the development of iron hulls for ships. The strength this gave the hull allowed the building of larger ships able to carry more cargo. The second change was the application of steam power to shipping.
The age of the clippers
Despite the development of steam power, square-rigged sailing ships continued to be widely used until the 1870s. Built for speed, these ships were said to travel at a 'good clip' (or speed), and were therefore known
as clippers. They generally had iron hulls, were able to compete with steam-driven ships because they were much faster than the early steamships and did not need to use valuable cargo space for carrying coal for fuel. Clippers were used extensively from the 1840s until the 1870s for trade between Britain and her colonies.
Steam power
The rst steam-driven ships were paddle steamers, either with one large rear-mounted paddle, or with paddles mounted on either side of the hull. While these proved effective for travel in rivers and for coastal use, paddle- driven ships were not really suitable for ocean travel. It was not until the development of the screw propeller
in the 1840s that large ocean-going steam ships began to dominate sea travel, both for freight and passenger travel.
Many of the innovations of the eighteenth century that fuelled the Industrial Revolution could not have occurred without a willingness of people to invest their savings in new enterprises, and a banking system able to channel that money into the most profitable of these businesses.
The importance of banks int
Today we are accustomed to banks as
places where we deposit our savings
and borrow money for a variety of
personal and business purposes. A
modern industrial economy could
not survive without a banking system.
In pre-industrial times, for example,
production of textiles was a cottage
industry and coalmining took place
in shallow pits, so little expensive
equipment was needed. The costs of
building a factory and equipping it
with machinery, or providing steam-driven pumps for a deep-pit coalmine were a very different matter. Anyone wishing to set up these types of businesses needed access to nance, so a well-organised banking system was essential.
Modern banking as we now understand it dates from Renaissance Italy, and particularly the wealthy cities of Venice and Florence. The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in England and Scotland saw the spread of banking practices that were the forerunners of today's modern banks. Before 1546 in England, it was illegal to charge interest on money lent, but the law was changed after that date. This change provided an opportunity for pro ts to be made from lending money to merchants wishing to set up business ventures.
Goldsmith Banking
Through the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, many
of the activities we now associate with banks were carried out by goldsmiths. While their major activity involved working with gold and other precious metals, goldsmiths could also provide safe custody for money and other valuables. They also kept quantities of foreign currency that could be exchanged by merchants wishing to travel overseas. By the early eighteenth century, these goldsmith bankers had developed a well-organised network of private banks that were ready to lend money for worthwhile business enterprises.
Government support for businesses
Between 1650 and 1673 Parliament passed the Navigation Acts, which required all goods traded between Britain and its colonies to be carried in British ships. There was also stronger enforcement of the Statute
of Monopolies of 1623, which protected the rights of inventors to pro t from patents on their inventions.
By the eighteenth century an environment that favoured entrepreneurship had developed in Britain.
More and more people saw the advantages of investing in business opportunities. Developments in agriculture encouraged farmers to operate their farms as pro t- making businesses. Innovations in the textile industry encouraged investment in larger and larger factories. The increasing demand for iron and coal made investment
in larger scale mining a pro table activity. Much of the progress made during the Industrial Revolution was due to the availability of money through a well-organised banking system, and a willingness of entrepreneurs to invest that money in business ventures.
Why did child labour become more of a problem during the Industrial Revolution?
In the eighteenth century it was normal practice for children to work to help support their family. In agricultural or domestic work situations this had often been under the supervision of parents, who could have some influence over the type of work carried out by their children. This changed in the early years of
the Industrial Revolution. Children who worked in factories and mines were subjected to harsh and
often brutal conditions.
Children in the textile factories
Owners of textile mills were quick to recognise that
they could employ children for lower wages than adults. Indeed, children often outnumbered adults in factory work. It has been estimated that in 1788 more than two-thirds of employees in cotton mills in England
and Scotland were children. While older children and teenagers could often take charge of running a spinning or weaving machine, it was the work of the younger children that was the most dangerous.
Pieces and scavengers
Children employed as 'piecers' were required to lean over the spinning machine and repair broken threads. They had to do this while the machine was running, and often had more than one machine to watch. It is estimated that a piecer looking after a number of machines could walk as much as 30 kilometres a day. Other children were employed as 'scavengers'. They had to crawl under machines collecting loose cotton and other waste. This task, also performed while machines were running, was particularly dangerous.
Children in the mines
Children in coalmines were employed as 'hurriers' and 'trappers'. Hurriers were required to carry baskets or
tow trucks of coal to the surface. Girls as young as six or seven could be employed in this way, and would continue this work into their teens. The belt or chain around a girl's waist could damage the pelvic bones, and many women who worked in the mines as children later died in childbirth. Even younger children were employed as trappers. Their job was to open and close the ventilation doors in the underground tunnels to allow the hurriers pulling their carts to pass through. Children as young as four or ve could be employed as trappers, and they often sat in the dark for up to 14 hours a day.
The climbing boys
Another occupation that employed large numbers of children, some as young as six, was that of chimney sweep. A sweep would employ a number of young boys, known as 'climbing boys', to climb up into chimneys and clean them with a hand brush or metal scraper. It was a dangerous and dirty job. Many choked
to death from breathing in the dust and soot, while others were injured by falling or by becoming
stuck in narrow chimneys.