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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-up,  factory-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.
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What was the Industrial Revolution? | History in a Nutshell | Animated History

113 Folder Collection
Summer published on August 11, 2020
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