The Industrial Revolution began in 1760 and lasted until around 1840. It was a period that was marked by a transition to a new manufacturing process. The period was characterized by a transition from the use of hands in production to the employment of machines, increased use of steam power, efficient iron production processes, and the introduction of machine tools. During the Industrial Revolution, textile was the dominant industry and also the first to use these developed tools and means of production. It marked an important turning point in history, with almost every aspect of daily life influenced. Population and income began to exhibit steady growth with standards of living increasing consistently. But where did the Industrial Revolution start? And, why did it start there?
Start Of The Industrial Revolution
Historians have divided the Industrial Revolution into two parts; the first Industrial Revolution which lasted from the mid-18th century to about 1830 and the second Industrial Revolution which lasted from the mid-19th century (or even the early 20th century). The Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain with many of the technical innovations being of British origin. By the time of its beginning, Britain was the leading commercial nation and controlled several trading empires across the world including North America and Africa. It also had great political influence in the Indian subcontinent through the East India Company. British influence combined with some other factors led to the start of the Industrial Revolution.
Why The Industrial Revolution Started In Britain?
There is no single reason as to why the Industrial Revolution started in England. The revolution resulted from a number of processes that had built up over a period of time. These factors included the availability of natural resources, population growth, peace and prosperity, innovation, and enlightenment. Some of these factors are discussed below.
Availability of Natural Resources: The island of Britain is rich in natural resources such as iron and coal that were vital to the Industrial Revolution. The deposits of coal and iron were essential for the development of new machines. Iron was the main material used in making machines while coal was used to power the steam engines. Since the British did not need to import iron and coal, the economy did not suffer any shortage.
Agricultural Revolution: The economy of Britain was based on Agriculture which was also in the rise. The high agricultural productivity meant that there was enough food for the British population. The availability of food led to an increased population which in turn provided adequate labor. Since agriculture was the backbone of the economy, people began carrying out experiments with the aim of improving farming techniques.
Navigable Waterways: The availability of navigable waterways such as canals and rivers facilitated the quick transportation of raw material and finished goods. The cost of transportation was also lowered significantly and made accessibility of the remote parts of the country possible.
Scientific Revolution: The Industrial Revolution owes much of its success to enlightenment and the scientific revolution. Craftsmen and scholars were always challenged to employ scientific thinking and innovation in tackling mechanical and technological challenges. The need to make work easier and faster let to a lot of innovations that were key in the Industrial Revolution.