The industrial revolution is one of the greatest topics of the modernization of Europe back in the 18th century. Great Britain was one of the countries that took this idea in hopes to change its economic status and transform itself into a new urban area. Their were many things that got implemented to help this growth such as the expansion of large factories to help boost the creation of textile production which soon lead to advances in technology and overall creating more jobs for the communities. Not everyone was happy about this happening though and conditions in the factories were less than pleasant. This new growth brought its fair share of problems as many people had flocked to seek their new lives. They soon found out that changes had to be made or citizens were going to face the consequences. With no idea what Britain was doing it led to many challenges as they were trail blazing and making their mark on history.
The industrial revolution first began taking shape back when a growing British empire started to expand its trade areas. This soon would allow for a need for manufactured goods which was easy for Britain to ship out. As supported in Western Society, “Within Britain, goods flowed easily between markets along miles or navigable water. Beginning in the 1770’s a canal building boom greatly enhanced this natural transportation advantage. Rivers and canals also provided easy movement of England’s and Wales’s enormous deposits of iron and coal, raw materials that would be critical to Europe’s early industrial age” (Western Society, p 566). Soon enough with this abundance of iron and coal deposits these items would help spark a huge transformation in history.
The need for textiles in the city grew more and more each day struggling to turn out enough product. This sparked the idea of creating a system that would be able to create product a lot faster while also keeping cost low and making sure that instead of it taking multiple people to do one job that it could be easily run. Large cotton factories were created and soon this need for more product lead to inventors scrambling for a way to help produce more. Then entered an inventor by the name of James Hargreaves. In 1765 he created the cotton-spinning jenny. This machine was described as “a spinning machine tht used six to twenty-four spindles mounted on a sliding carriage to spin a fine thread” (Western Society, p 567).
This invention was a blessing for the factories as it was simple to use, inexpensive, and only took one person to operate them. This breakthrough system allowed for an increase in production at 10 times the rate as before. Almost at the same time the water frame was also created. The water frame was created by Richard Arkwright. The good thing about this machine was it had the ability to hold several hundred spindles. However, the draw back was it had to be powered by water. This required the factory to be much bigger in size but the product was said to be of much better quality (Western Society, p 567).
So, with all these new factories and jobs created who worked inside these factories? A majority of the employees would turn out to be children. But was this a suitable place for an 8-year-old child to work? It was said that these factories were very dirty and that the children while taken well care off by being clothed and fed but did not receive any pay for their work and would often work an insane number of hours on top of having to do their school work as well. Robert Owen who was a very successful textile manufacturer give specific detail to this.
Robert said, “ It is not to be supposed that children so young could remain, with the interval of meals only, from six in the morning until seven in the evening, in constant employment on their feet within cotton mills, and afterwards acquire much proficiency in education” (Sources of Western Society, p 376). The factories were not the only thing to start getting dirty. Because of all the new jobs being set up. The migration flock had people coming in from all over to receive work which left the city over crowded which the city was not build for. It began to become heavily polluted as the streets weren’t paved, lacked sewers, and did not have any safe water. In fact, it was said that Manchester England went from 25,000 people in 1700 to 450,000 by the year 1850.
To help combat the children issue at hand. The Factory Act of 1833 was created. This act limited the number of hours that a child was allowed to work in a day based off of their age. This meant that kids nine to thirteen could work up to eight hours and kids fourteen to eighteen could work a total of twelve . As you can imagine these were terrible conditions to not only live in everyday but even to work in. Especially for someone who is only eight years old or so.
Now, with all this added business and plenty of jobs created everyone should be jumping for joy over it right? That was not the case for a few individuals. Some strange things started to happen to the people that owned these factories. They started to notice that when they came in for work that their machines were smashed. Almost as if someone came in during the night and destroyed them. This was exactly what was happening. These people where known as “luddites”. They were handicraft workers who did not believe that the industrial revolution was a good thing. They believed that instead of creating jobs that they were taking away their jobs. To get even with them they would sneak into the factories and start smashing the new machines to try and put them out of work . These handicraft workers were scared of this technology in a way also.
After not having to have hardly any education to jobs such as this before the machines were invented, they were afraid that this upstart of inventions would drive the people who did not have the skills out and diminish them completely. The luddites wanted to show that they meant business and would do whatever necessary to show their power. Even showing up at numbers close to 3,000 strong. In a letter from Mrs. Goodair she comments on those horrid times back then saying, “The mob next proceeded to the factory, where they broke the windows, destroyed the looms, and cut all the work which was in progress; and having finished the mischief, they repeated the three cheers which they gave on seeing the flames first burst from our dwelling”
Other than the spinning jenny and the water frame. Other inventions had helped pave the way for the revolution. With the growing need for more power to help run the water frame soon came along an inventor that would once again revolutionize the amount of product we could turn out. Thomas Savery created the first steam engine back in 1698 and was soon followed by Thomas Newcomen in 1705. These two men where able to create a machine that could pump water out of the iron mines since they had gotten so deep. This steam engine ran off of coal which we knew from earlier was an abundant resource in Britain and would then be used to pump the built-up water out of the mines . It was said that before this was invented that animals were used previously to help pump out the water. This again proves the serious changes that technology was able to help make. Once the kinks got worked out of the steam engine it was universally adopted across all parts of the world and soon began to replace how other industries did their jobs. “The steam engine was quickly put to use in several industries in Britain. It drained mines and made possible the production of ever more coal to fed steam engines elsewhere. The steam overplant began to replace water in the cotton-spinning mills during the 1780’s, contributing greatly to the industry’s phenomenal rise” . Once again just like the textile industry a simple invention was able to help boost productivity and helped influence other communities and other businesses to adopted their idea.
The last invention that helped change the face of Britain’s industrial revolution was the advancement of the rail road. As more and more products started to be created so did the need to export them out. Before the revolution the use of the water ways and canals that Britain had access too was the main source of getting products out. George Stephenson soon then developed the first ever locomotive back in 1830 called the “rocket”. This invention was powered off of coal which was also abundant in Britain. It was said that this machine had an average speed of 12 miles per hour with a top speed of thirty miles per hour. This did a few things that would impact the economy. First, it expanded the market across nationwide.
If there was a track build their you could get it. Second, the transportation cost became a lot less. The one thing that the locomotive did do for the economy was it helped create even more jobs. In order to grow the rail road, a lot of people were needed to help put in new track across Europe and leading to the rest of the world later on. Much like the advancements with the steam engine it only took time before they started to develop even better machines. By 1850 locomotives had developed to be able to run fifty miles an hour which only meant one thing. That once again the goods that were being transported were going to get a lot quicker once yet.
In conclusion, the industrial revolution helped make big changes towards Great Britain’s economic life and their ability to produce good. It is crazy to think about how inventions such as the locomotive, steam engine, spinning jenny, and water frame all made huge impacts on how goods were created, mined for, and how they were transported. Even with these great advancements in technology however, not everyone believed it was for the best that the luddites threatened to destroy all that had been gained in the textile mills.
The industrial revolution proved that to people it was not all about work as the Factory Act’s help fight for the rights of children who where stuck under the control of businesses working insane hours without any pay while also trying to complete their school work. Hard to imagine being eight years old and having to survive in those conditions. But thanks to Robert Owen’s children were granted rights that they so deserved for working in those factories. Sure, it may not have been perfect. However, it did not have to be. As Britain was the pioneer for the Industrial revolution.