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  • The Industrial Revolution changed  England and the world forever.

  • It took place between about 1700 and 1900, and  - so the simple explanation goes - it  

  • turned Britain into a tooled-upfactory-powered 'workshop of the world'.

  • But there was plenty more to the Industrial Revolution than  

  • just factories and machines. It certainly didn't happen overnight,  

  • and its roots go even further back than 1700. 

  • In fact, many historians reckon the Industrial  Revolution was not just one revolution,  

  • but a series of revolutions. A bit  like a complicated machine: it had lots  

  • of different moving parts, and each of  these parts was like its own revolution.

  • New revolutionary technologies and  inventions meant that products could  

  • be made by machines rather than by hand.

  • Eventually, steam engines powered these machines  with coal instead of natural resources  

  • like wind, water and animals – a kind of energy revolution.

  • Transport was revolutionised  too - first with canals and  

  • improved roads, and later with  steam-powered trains and ships.

  • There was a consumer revolution, as  people in England and elsewhere started  

  • to replace durable, homemade goods with  cheaper, mass produced alternatives.

  • Britain's population grew from 6.5 million in 1750,  

  • to 10.5 million by 1800. By 1850, it had doubled to 20.8 million,  

  • and more than half of those people were living in cities.

  • These people needed feeding, and more food was  produced thanks to the improved  

  • farming techniques of the 18th century agricultural revolution.

  • There was also a commercial revolution, as Britain exported  

  • and imported more goods, and more  food to feed the growing cities.

  • And, thanks to long-term changes in land ownership and the law,  

  • landowners were now able to mortgage their land to raise  

  • money to invest in new ventures – a kind of financial revolution.

  • The slave trade and the expansion of Britain's colonies in the Americas  

  • also played a part in the Industrial Revolution

  • British traders sold manufactured goods in  West Africa, in return for enslaved Africans.

  • They were transported across the Atlantic to work on plantations  

  • that grew sugar and tobacco, and  these were exported back to Britain.

  • This 'triangular trade' fuelled manufacturing in Britain

  • and created enormous profits for wealthy Brits, with some of that money  

  • helping to fund new inventions, new infrastructure and new country houses.

  • But it's important to remember that some  of the money invested in industry came  

  • directly from a system that destroyed  the lives of millions of African people,  

  • and impoverished Africa for generations to come.

  • Britain did abolish slavery in its own colonies in 1834,  

  • but even by 1860, England's massive cotton textile industry was entirely  

  • reliant on cotton produced by 3 million enslaved Africans in the American South.

  • Huge fortunes were made in the Industrial Revolution,  

  • and many people experienced a higher quality of life than ever before.

  • But the gap between the rich and the  poor widened, and quality of life didn't improve for everyone.

  • Many skilled workers lost their jobs to machines,  

  • and factory workers endured dangerous  conditions, six-day weeks, and 12 to 14-hour shifts.

  • In industrial areas in the early 19th century, the average  

  • age for children starting work was just  eight and a half. It wasn't until later  

  • in the century that children under 10  were banned from working in factories.

  • Towns and cities were breeding grounds for diseases

  • Life expectancy was around 30 to  33 in urban areas until 1850,  

  • but 10 years more in the countryside.   

  • Poor nutrition meant that the average height of British workers actually fell in the first half of the 19th century.

  • Campaigners tried to improve  the lot of the working classes,  

  • eventually securing advances like free  education, restrictions on child labour,  

  • improved sanitation and better working  conditions. Some industrialists made  

  • large donations to charities, or  built new, modern towns for their workers.

  • But despite protests, many working people were denied the right to vote

  • throughout this period, and reforms were almost always hard-won.  

  • Ultimately, the Industrial Revolution was a time of great upheaval

  • By the early 20th century, it had changed the  people, the landscape and the politics  

  • of England beyond all recognition. In  so many ways, it made the modern world.

The Industrial Revolution changed  England and the world forever.

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What was the Industrial Revolution? | History in a Nutshell | Animated History

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    Summer posted on 2020/08/10
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