In Part 1 of Industrial Revolution, we looked at Britain as being the mother of Industrial Revolution. We also saw that the revolution was a gradual occurrence having started in the 18th century to 19th century. By 20th century, America had taken over as the most industrialized nation. But exactly how did that happen?
In this second part, we will look at innovation, transportation and communication and how they revolved thus having an overall impact on industrial revolution.
Innovation and Industrialization
Industrialization particularly transformed the textile industry. Before factories and mechanization, people used to make textiles in their homes which brought up the cottage industry. In this case, merchants provided the raw materials and basic equipment. They then picked the finished product.
It was hard for the merchants to regulate and curb inefficiencies because the workers set their own schedule.
A series of innovations started to emerge in the 1700’s thus increasing productivity. For instance, James Hargreaves invented the spinning jenny (what we now call engine). This machine allowed the user to produce multiple spools of threads at the same time. By the time Hargreaves died, over 20,000 spinning jennys were in use across Britain. Some other notable innovations in the textile industry are power loom, which mechanized the cloth weaving process and also the spinning mule by Samuel Compton.
As the iron industry grew, Industrial Revolution was also boosted. Abraham Darby in the 18th century discovered how iron-cast could be produced cheaply and easily by using coke-fueled furnace. Henry Bessemer developed a cheap method in which mass production of iron could be done. Both iron and steel became important materials for making everything like tools, machines, appliances, buildings, ships and infrastructure.
The steam engine also played a central role in the Industrial Revolution. Thomas Newcomen in 1770s invented the very first practical steam engine. The purpose of this was to pump water from the mines. James Watt (1736-1819) improved Newcomen’s work, integrating the steam engine with the capabilities of operating in locomotives, power machinery and ships during this stage of industrialization.
Transportation and Industrialization
The transport industry similarly had important changes during the Industrial Revolution era. Before the steam engine was invented, raw materials and finished goods reached their destination using horse-drawn wagons as well as via boats on rivers and canals.
Robert Fulton built the first steam boat that was commercially successful in early 18th century. By mid-19th century, the Atlantic ocean was filled with steamships carrying freight across it.
Here is a list of some other innovations that impacted the transport industry:
- Railway steam locomotive invented by Richard Trevithick (1771-1933)
- Road construction technique developed by John McAdam (1756-1836)
Communication and Industrialization
The invention of the telegraph was of great impact in making communication easy. The first electrical telegraph was patented by Charles Wheatstone and William Cooke. In 1866, the telegraph cable was laid across the Atlantic successfully.
Industrial Revolution also saw industrial financiers and banks rise. The factory industry also relied on managers as well as the owners.