Origin of the industrial revolution?

Sindane

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
4,686
Europe
#11
I mentioned labor, but should have given more due to it. Yes. The labor that was necessary to make products such as steel was immense, especially before automation. While the wages were low and the work hard and dangerous, many flocked to work in the industries for the the pay was steady. Internally, people left the rural areas and came to the cities. Externally, many immigrated to places such as the U.S. to take part.
I wouldn't say the pay was steady. In the early/mid decades (1770-1880), there were many periods of 'industrial distress' and boom and bust. There was a reason child labour (fully endorsed by Pitt the Younger during economic crisis/war) became so widespread
The industrial revolution started in Britain, so the migrants to the USA from Britain were already 'taking part'. As industrialisation grew in the USA those skills and knowledge would have been needed. What these migrants had was experience . Which I will come back to, as experience is why I believe the IR started in Britain
For example
https://www.cambridge.org/core/services/aop-cambridge-core/content/view/S0020859000005848
'British coal miners immigrated to the United States in increasing numbers during the Civil War decade. Their movement from the collieries gathered momentum in the early war years and reached its peak in 1869.
In 1862, almost all of the immigrants entering the United States who listed their occupation as "miner" were from Britain.
As shown in the table, such men accounted for more than 73% of all immigrant miners in each of the following years of the decade for which data are available, with the exception of 1864. In 1870, the 57,214 British immigrant miners listed in the United States Census represented more than 60% of all foreign-born miners (94,719) in the country.'



In England? I would say the empire spurred new ideas and development, like the steam engine and bessemer furnace. The market was there , as Britain had a vast empire and beyond, with which to trade. And that Trade helped to provide the materials while Smith and Locke the ideas.

There was a freedom of ideas underfoot in Britain. Scotland in particular. While I have never understood the Freemasons, they had some revolutionary ideas. Maybe the diminishment of religiosity had something to do with it, or the Calvinistic ideas that were present among some of them.
In the 18th century you had a mass of agricultural labours living in lodgings (owned by the landowner) or labourers living in tied cottages, maybe with their own pig. Also some engaged in husbandry for the local landowner.As a side industry, many of these 'Ag Labs' also had a basic loom, to weave 'pieces' of woollen cloth, which they would then sell at a local market. This is known as the 'domestic system' or 'cottage industry'. At the same time you had local primitive and shallow coal mines.
These industries, wool and coal, date back to the Roman times. This is where the experience comes in. Passed down over the centuries. A weaver might adjust his loom to be more productive and it wouldn't take much later to adapt these to cotton production. A collier might invent new and more productive ways of 'getting' (extracting coal) from deeper mines. Gradually, with these new innovations, we see the 'factory system' emerge, the textile mills and also machinery that could pump water from deeper mines. The new mill and colliery owners often came from the older industry. Brothers maybe, who saw the potential and set up a small business, and whose families had been experienced in the older skills. Many went bankrupt, but some went on to become the wealthy 'mill barons' and this is when later we see the huge textile mills, each mill sometimes a mile or two miles long and many floors high, each employing tens of thousands of people (1850ish -1980) . This especially happened in what become known as 'the industrial districts'. For example the north of England (especially Lancashire and the West Riding) . The west midlands (Birmingham 'the city of a thousand trades'). The east midlands and so on. As steel production and steam power increased, industry moved into the towns and cities, because the extraction of coal from deeper mines was now possible in many more places.
It started with the experience and knowledge built up over many centuries, especially in the wool and coal industries
 
Last edited:
Oct 2018
137
China
#13
The Enlightenment liberated people's minds, letting people learn to think for themselves and no longer believe in theology. People learn to think about nature, society, promote scientific development, and ultimately lead to the industrial revolution.
 

Sindane

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
4,686
Europe
#14
The Enlightenment liberated people's minds, letting people learn to think for themselves and no longer believe in theology. People learn to think about nature, society, promote scientific development, and ultimately lead to the industrial revolution.
Yes the Enlightenment did all that but when your everyday common industrial labourer tried to 'think for himself' and form liberating 'society's', he was barred by legislation from doing so and soldiers were posted in his local pub to ensure these new laws were upheld.
 
Jul 2012
751
Australia
#15
So presumably the Agricultural Revolution was needed before its industrial counterpart.
What was needed was cheap and plentiful labour. In England this happened through the rationalisation of agriculture that led to increasing number of people being evicted off the land who eventually made their way to towns where most lived in destitute conditions. The first factories found a ready pool of labour that could be bought for the minimum cost and under the most advantageous conditions for the factory owners.
 
Sep 2013
39
New Zealand
#16
In broad terms this is my understanding of why the IR happened in Britain first, in no specific order or importance
1) The Agricultural revolution happened - new smart practices and machinery. This did free up labour overtime, but was not the reason the IR started, except maybe to help motivate a culture of looking for better ways of doing things
2) Britain became a democracy before anyone else. With the Glorious Revolution ( and Magna Carta long before), and other changes - royalty did not have all the power. MPs were elected. Off course not all men (and women) got the vote until late in the 19th century
3) Secure property rights - this was more of a thing in Britain earlier. This extended not just to things, but intellectual property. You invented something, and patented it, you secured ongoing revenue
4) The scientific method - all formalised and institutionalised in Britain - The Royal Society founded in 1660. Think Newton and the likes
5) A free press - Britain was first to do this.
6) Capitalisation - Although modern banks started in Italy and the share market in the Netherlands, Britain developed this in a big way. This allowed people to invest in large enterprises that could build large factories etc
7) Common Law is often touted as making a difference, as compared to the prescriptive European legal system. I don't really know enough to comment
8) Bank of England - enabled the govt to "borrow" money for large scale investments e.g. The navy
9) The empire assisted with sourcing materials, and providing some markets - but I don't believe this was as important as most of the points above

This all enabled things like steam engines, trains, cement, cast iron, stainless steel, and a million other things to be invented

BTW - I think for most of the 18th and 19th workers in the U.K. were paid somewhat better than those on the continent


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Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
#17
What was needed was cheap and plentiful labour. In England this happened through the rationalisation of agriculture that led to increasing number of people being evicted off the land who eventually made their way to towns where most lived in destitute conditions. The first factories found a ready pool of labour that could be bought for the minimum cost and under the most advantageous conditions for the factory owners.
That was certainly.a major factor, but you also needed ready capital available to buy the equipment and machinery used by the industrial revolution. In England, there was ready sources of money that one could borrow from.
 
Dec 2011
1,321
Belgium
#18
My 4 ingredients to the industrial revolution:

Key - steam power.
Yes there was wind power and water power, but only steam power allowed you to have a source of non-animal power where you wanted it, and in the quantities you will need, large and small.

Essential - Science and technology.
Understanding the rational order of the world allowed you to manipulate it and to devleop machines to replace human labour.

Wider markets
Need to supply a wider market than just your local area - national and then later international. Needed advances in communications to aid the transportaton of goods.

Wealth needed to build and acquire the assets required.
Motorbike,

if I take your four ingredients, I suppose the Dutch Republic was fulfilling three of them, and I suppose had the Dutch have been more powerful when they were attacked by both the UK and France and prepared on land to tackle France in the Annus horibilis, the invention of the steam engine could be have done in Holland too or did you need coalmines, which the Republic didn't have, to push this invention, because it was needed for the pumps in the mines? Or was the Dutch population not big enough to have that take off and implement the whole as Britain? Was Britain following the Dutch model after the Glorious Revolution?
Amsterdam, London, New York.
The Dutch sawmills

Kind regards from Paul.
 
Dec 2011
1,321
Belgium
#19
Motorbike,

if I take your four ingredients, I suppose the Dutch Republic was fulfilling three of them, and I suppose had the Dutch have been more powerful when they were attacked by both the UK and France and prepared on land to tackle France in the Annus horibilis, the invention of the steam engine could be have done in Holland too or did you need coalmines, which the Republic didn't have, to push this invention, because it was needed for the pumps in the mines? Or was the Dutch population not big enough to have that take off and implement the whole as Britain? Was Britain following the Dutch model after the Glorious Revolution?
Amsterdam, London, New York.
The Dutch sawmills.
I see now that the four episodes with English subtitles aren't available anymore. Or you can buy the series or perhaps I guess also with payment watch them here:
Terranoa

Kind regards, Paul.
 

Sindane

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
4,686
Europe
#20
In broad terms this is my understanding of why the IR happened in Britain first, in no specific order or importance
1) The Agricultural revolution happened - new smart practices and machinery. This did free up labour overtime, but was not the reason the IR started, except maybe to help motivate a culture of looking for better ways of doing things
Machinery did not 'free up' labour overtime, in fact the opposite happened. This is why you had a situation where children as young as 3 years old were compelled to labour for 'wages' 6 days a week, for up to 16 hours a day and beyond in factories and coal mines.

2) Britain became a democracy before anyone else. With the Glorious Revolution ( and Magna Carta long before), and other changes - royalty did not have all the power. MPs were elected. Off course not all men (and women) got the vote until late in the 19th century
The full male franchise wasn't achieved until 1918 (the Fourth Reform Act)
The first reform act, the 'Great' Reform Act of 1832, was rushed in after widespread rioting and created 67 new constituencies , many of them in the new industrial districts but even after this act, only one in five men had the right to vote

5) A free press - Britain was first to do this.
Hardly a free press. You could be sent to prison or transported for breaking any one of the Six Acts (1819)

Habeas Corpus was suspended in 1794, enabling the government to detain prisoners without trial.
The suspension lasted from May 1794 to July 1795 and again from April 1798 to March 1801.
Great Britain: Suspension of Habeas Corpus. 7 May 1794

Seditious Meetings Act 1795
Seditious Meetings Act 1795 - Wikipedia


The Combination Act 1799... (39 Geo. III, c. 81) titled An Act to prevent Unlawful Combinations of Workmen, prohibited trade unions and collective bargaining by British workers. The Act received royal assent on 12 July 1799. An additional Act was passed in 1800 (39 & 40 Geo III c. 106).
Combination Act 1799 - Wikipedia

Unlawful Oaths Act 1812
Luddite Bicentenary: 9th July 1812: The Unlawful Oaths Act becomes law


Coercion Act 1817
Spa Fields riots - Wikipedia


Six Acts 1819
The Training Prevention Act, now known as the Unlawful Drilling
The Seizure of Arms Act (60 Geo. III & 1 Geo. IV c. 2)
The Misdemeanors Act (60 Geo. III & 1 Geo. IV c. 4)
The Seditious Meetings Act (60 Geo. III & 1 Geo. IV c. 6)
The Blasphemous and Seditious Libels Act (or Criminal Libel Act) (60 Geo. III & 1 Geo. IV c. 8)
The Newspaper and Stamp Duties Act (60 Geo. III & 1 Geo. IV c. 9)
Six Acts - Wikipedia


9) The empire assisted with sourcing materials, and providing some markets - but I don't believe this was as important as most of the points above

This all enabled things like steam engines, trains, cement, cast iron, stainless steel, and a million other things to be invented

BTW - I think for most of the 18th and 19th workers in the U.K. were paid somewhat better than those on the continent


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'...steam engines, trains, cement, cast iron, stainless steel,...'
These things relied on mining. Britain had it's own coal and iron reserves and these minerals were not imported from empire. Britain was the largest exporter of coal in the world until the early 20th century. Mining was a huge industry in Britain
 

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