The industrial revolution (1750-1914)

Updated: Oct 23, 2019


A revolution upon a revolution

The agricultural revolution in Great Britain was a fundamental base for the industrial revolution, due to the fact that food sources increased, which fed more people. The food could feed more labors, thus being one of the reasons leading to an industrial revolution. A bigger food supply made it possible for more people to be born and that made less work available. Also the enclosure movement was that the farmers moved into cities, leading to a larger output from less people. The agricultural revolution created a favorable climate as well for the people to develop

factories to satisfy the new needs for a better lifestyle.

Why Britain led the industrial revolution in the beginning?

  • Britain was the workshop of the world, due to their strong British colonies that brought fresh raw products directly to their industries.

  • They had plentiful of coal and iron, which helped them develop transport systems (for example steam engines, canals,rail roads and also improved roads, which was almost as good as the romans). 1698, Thomas Savery with the steam driven pump.

Course :


A factory system came to be, which gathered all the machinery's to one place.

Industries built up a motivation for new inventions. Two examples of inventions that made the industries more efficient was “The spinning Jenny” which was invented in 1764 by James Hargreaves, and the “Bessemer process”. “The Spinning Jenny” speeded up the spinning process and about a decade later Henry Bessemer found out how to make steel cheaper, called a “Bessemer process”, through blowing cold air on heated Iron to remove impurities.

The British government also encouraged the country, which is another reason to why it led to better roads and canals. This helped maintain a strong navy that could protect the country and its ships all over the world.

Enlighten ideas and inventions

An enlighten idea appeared by the change of the climate, turning more social and intellectual. This encouraged the poor people to not remain poor and to improve themselves, thus decreasing poverty over time. After the 1850’s people started more and more with science with the goal to advance in science and technology, thus improving machinary’s. Steam engines were replaced in the 1800’s by the english scientist Micheal Faraday’s Electric generator.

In 1866, the underwater telegraph was invented, 1876 the telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell, which both increased the communication.

Early in the industrial revolution, Eli Whitney developed the handmade guns making them possible to be produced through machines.

Guglielmo Marconi developed a way to send electric signals without wires, which was called the “Wireless England” and “Radio in America”.

The working environment

In 1840’s, workers in England gained 62 cents a week as a wage. A working day was between 12-16 hours and it did not depend on your age at all. One person in a family could not feed a whole family, which forced all sorts of people from very old to 5 year olds to work in factories. The working environment was as miserable as the home environment, because of the unskilled workers.

Machined were not safe and anyone who got hurt during the working hours, the industry would not think twice about replacing them.

The Reforms began with “The Factory Act“ of 1833, reducing the working days to 8 hours a day for children between 9-18 years old and to 12 hours a day for 14-18 year olds. Another important reform was the “Mines Act”, claiming that no woman or girls should work in mines and the minimum age for workers should be 13 years old. The reform was not enough improvement, which caused the labor unions to appear. THese unions were associations bought for the workers to gain better wages and was seen as very dangerous by the government. They saw it being so dangerous that the “Combination act” appeared making the unions illegal. This was not approved by the workers, making them to oppose the government with the result of growing associations. By the end of the 1800’s the unions were common in Britain, Western Europe and USA.

By 1814 the peoples lifestyles were improved in comparison to 100 years ago.

Between 1870 and 1914 improvements for the working climate grew. Wages doubled both in France and Britain and the machinery's in the industries got safety equipments. This removed all the physical disasters that occurred before, but it also created new issues. Because of the population growing rapidly, financial disasters appeared with unemployed workers as well as, accidents and sickness of old age creating insurance funds.


Transport and communication

The transport system made it possible for Great Britain to trade across the world. Britain led the trading nation during the 1500-1600 where Britain made huge profits from the trade of tea, tobacco, sugar and slaves. This led the country to get more wealthy, creating the ability for the entrepreneurs to invest on the capital with mines, shipbuilding, railroads etc….

The most important trading system was built in 1869, 10 of may in the pacific, which led to a greater pace of industrialization between 1850-1914.


The new industries created a new concept called corporation, which meant that businesses could be owned by many investors. An example would be 1870, when the term monopoly was created meaning that investors could be in total control of a company. People could now deposit money in banks to invest in industries

Improving city life and social structure

Because of the growth of the population in the cities and the dirty and smoky streets from the industries the city needed attention and needed to improve, done by installing sewage systems and developed water systems were installed. Electricity and gas became more common, thus becoming more cheap. Subway systems in Berlin, New York and London were built and by 1900’s the cities were attractive enough to be visited by tourists. Poverty remained, even though is was decreased.

France : Between 1850 and 1870 the whole city of Paris was reconstructed.

England : London reformed a member for the parliament, sir Robert Peel who helped creating the police force in the city as Bobbies or Peeless.

England lost the lead of industrialization

Between 1850 and 1914 Western Europe and USA industrialized and Japan and Asia later joining in. Belgium was the first country to industrialize after England, also having plenty of coal and Iron. Another similarity between Belgium and Britain is that they both had a capital for their entrepreneurs to invest in the machinary’s. One advantage that Belgium had was their long manufacturing tradition of textiles, which meant that they had more “Skilled” workers that made a more efficient work.

France was next on the list of industrializing, with fresh and original inventions. A similarity between Belgium and France would be their strong textile industries. But France grew rapidly, becoming even stronger in textile industries. The french government manipulated the country, through increasing the cost of imported textile, making the french people to buy and work with their own textiles. The government also encouraged to improve transportation.

By 1870 America moved ahead of Britain with a similarity of having a vast natural resources and Iron.

In contrast to the other countries, until 1870’s Germany suffered because of the divisions among its many small states. Reaching 1871, Germany became a united country, leading industrial power over America and Britain.

Why the Southern and Eastern countries were not active in Industrialization, was because of them being more agricultural and their government not encouraging them in industrializing in 1800’s, which is a great contrast to Western Europe.

Before and after the Industrial revolution

Before the industrial revolution, people were self-employed, managed their own and satisfied their own needs. On the edge of the expansion of the population in Europe, people started moving into cities where they got employed instead in industries. The result was urbanisation.

Between the 1750 and 1914, the rate of the population went from 140 million to 463 million people in Europe. Manchester was the center of the British cotton industry in 1855 with the population of 455000 people, which is a con to the expansion of the population. A century earlier there were only 16000 residences, which shows the drastic change in the population.The houses were built purely with 6-10 living in each apartment. There were no excess of hygienic water and there were no sanitation systems which made the people to have to throw out their sewage out in the street. Also because of the many industries, the air was very dirty.

When it comes to the social structure, the highest rulers before the industrial revolution was the Aristocracy, followed up by the middle class (merchants, clergy and lawyers) and skilled workers (like shoemakers, pottery makers. During the industrial revolution the middle class expanded rapidly, which challenged the power of the aristocracy. Because of the change in the new intellectual climate, the middle class has constantly strived for a life considered to be “Respectful”.

Because of the change from the Domestic system to a Factory system, the lifes of the women changed dramatically with more responsibilities on their shoulders. With low wages a family could not survive on the husband wage, which made that the whole family had to work. As the industries developed and wages increased the women could then depend on the man's wage, going back to domestic lifestyle. The children got less working hours, which led to the children providing help to the women at home. As the wealth grew among the rich people with businesses going well, women were often employed as housekeepers again.

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