- Aug 2013
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.
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
'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.
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