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Industrial Revolution
The word Industrial Revolution was used first to indicate England’s economic development from 1760 to 1840, and it was a process rather than a period of time. The changes involved the use of new materials, like iron and steel, or new sources like coal and the steam engine, technological inventions, improvements in transportation and communication. There were also improvements in agriculture, international trade, and the birth of working-class movements. Britain was the first country to industrialize, but there were conditions which helped this, as agriculture improvements and commercial expansion, a great merchant marine, the slave trade, a good canal and road system, an enterprising middle class, the availability of raw materials like cotton, coal and iron. Also new farming methods were introduced, and machinery was improved. Besides, landowners began to hedge their lands into area called enclosures, bur poor farmers couldn’t afford it and it deprived them of the possibility to grazing the animals, so they left the country to find work in the towns, so the demand for goods increased.
At first in Britain people used wool, but they discovered cotton, imported from West Indies, which couldn’t be span at home, so new machines were invented and factories were built and women and children were employed. Also wood was replaced by iron in industrial products, and there was the growth of the iron industry and the steam engines. But this increasing needed cheap and reliable transport, so canals were soon built; also railways began to be built, and George Stephenson in 1814 built his first locomotive. The railways were very important for lives because fresh food could be brought into towns. But the main source of wealth was trade, and Britain was the most powerful trading nation in the world, it exported lots of goods. It increased the gap between poor and rich, and a group of people called Luddites reacted to this improvements smashing up the new machinery, called after Ned Ludd. Another important consequence was the shift of people from countryside to towns. In the Great exhibition of 1851 were shown all the progresses of Britain.
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