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What were the main reasons that the Industrial Revolution happened in Great Britain? [duplicate]

What were the main reasons that the Industrial Revolution happened in Great Britain? [duplicate]


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What were the main reasons that the Industrial Revolution happened in Great Britain? I know there were at least a few other European countries with some of the same advantages that Great Britain had (such as markets for their goods in their colonies). What was it that set Great Britain apart?


There are many reasons:

Early abolition of serfdom

Serfdom is the status of peasants under feudalism, specifically relating to manorialism. It was a condition of bondage which developed primarily during the High Middle Ages in Europe and lasted in some countries until the mid-19th century Scotland: neyfs (serfs) disappeared by late 14th century,[23] but heritable jurisdictions survived until 1747.[24] England & Wales: obsolete by 15th-16th century

Abolishing serfdom is important for creating a middle class.

An very early and well developed legal system protecting personal and property rights

First European Nation State Henry VII wins the War of the Roses in England, begins the Tudor dynasty in 1485.

Financial innovation The UK did not invent many of these things, but its strong legal system allowed them to flourish, such as contracts, equity, mortgages, joint stock and limited liability. Private companies were able to use joint stock with the permission of the monarchy to finance trade and settlements in British colonies. An example is the British East India Company.

Great Britain's successful global trade empire It could draw in raw materials it required or use as markets to sell its goods

Enclosures Act

process which ends traditional rights such as mowing meadows for hay, or grazing livestock on common land formerly held in the open field system. Once enclosed, these uses of the land become restricted to the owner, and it ceases to be land for commons. In England and Wales the term is also used for the process that ended the ancient system of arable farming in open fields. Under enclosure, such land is fenced (enclosed) and deeded or entitled to one or more owners. The process of enclosure began to be a widespread feature of the English agricultural landscape during the 16th century. By the 19th century, unenclosed commons had become largely restricted to rough pasture in mountainous areas and to relatively small parts of the lowlands.

Enclosure is one of the causes of the British Agricultural Revolution, but it causes mass unemployment. The unemployed people often sought work for low wages in the Industrializing Northern England.

British Agricultural Revolution

unprecedented increase in agricultural production in England due to increases in labor and land productivity that took place between 1750 and 1850

Fewer people were needed as farmers, so this also caused people to move to cities and seek paid employment.

Large coal and iron ore deposits This is an important natural resource for industry to create steel and steam powered machines.


You might say it started in the renaissance. Common men such as peasants found opportunities to expand their businesses and move up in status; e.g. A yeoman purchasing neighbouring land and building a large wool business. An all round richer population created opportunity for many more youngsters to have education. People moved around more than ever, and university was more accessible. That way, more great minds found their way than just clergy, nobles and the particularly wealthy. Science increased in popularity as the age of travel shared more knowledge and technology. The increased prosperity and surplus in goods encouraged developments in industry to deal with them efficiently. The other side to this was the extra jobs it created became a pull factor, resulting in a migration from country areas into cities, mining towns and ports. To specify what areas Britain prospered in: Wool was a large enterprise in Britain since early times, and with the introduction of new technology, (such as the spinning jenny, 1764) and the conversion of farmland to sheep production, a greater export market developed. Coal mining is still a significant trade activity, especially in northern England and Scotland. At first it was found to be very convenient for household fires/cooking, but soon fueled steam engines, which was a huge advancement in industry as machines took the place of human and animal workers in places like factories and transport reached a new level with trains and sea craft.

Sources: The Pictorial Encyclopedia of British History


Short Answer High Wages. The replacing of labour by machines was profitable in England, but often not so elsewhere with lower wages.


Industrial Revolution

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Industrial Revolution, in modern history, the process of change from an agrarian and handicraft economy to one dominated by industry and machine manufacturing. This process began in Britain in the 18th century and from there spread to other parts of the world. Although used earlier by French writers, the term Industrial Revolution was first popularized by the English economic historian Arnold Toynbee (1852–83) to describe Britain’s economic development from 1760 to 1840. Since Toynbee’s time the term has been more broadly applied.

Where and when did the Industrial Revolution take place?

Historians conventionally divide the Industrial Revolution into two approximately consecutive parts. What is called the first Industrial Revolution lasted from the mid-18th century to about 1830 and was mostly confined to Britain. The second Industrial Revolution lasted from the mid-19th century until the early 20th century and took place in Britain, continental Europe, North America, and Japan. Later in the 20th century, the second Industrial Revolution spread to other parts of the world.

How did the Industrial Revolution change economies?

The Industrial Revolution transformed economies that had been based on agriculture and handicrafts into economies based on large-scale industry, mechanized manufacturing, and the factory system. New machines, new power sources, and new ways of organizing work made existing industries more productive and efficient. New industries also arose, including, in the late 19th century, the automobile industry.

How did the Industrial Revolution change society?

The Industrial Revolution increased the overall amount of wealth and distributed it more widely than had been the case in earlier centuries, helping to enlarge the middle class. However, the replacement of the domestic system of industrial production, in which independent craftspersons worked in or near their homes, with the factory system and mass production consigned large numbers of people, including women and children, to long hours of tedious and often dangerous work at subsistence wages. Their miserable conditions gave rise to the trade union movement in the mid-19th century.

What were some important inventions of the Industrial Revolution?

Important inventions of the Industrial Revolution included the steam engine, used to power steam locomotives, steamboats, steamships, and machines in factories electric generators and electric motors the incandescent lamp (light bulb) the telegraph and telephone and the internal-combustion engine and automobile, whose mass production was perfected by Henry Ford in the early 20th century.

Who were some important inventors of the Industrial Revolution?

Important inventors of the Industrial Revolution included James Watt, who greatly improved the steam engine Richard Trevithick and George Stephenson, who pioneered the steam locomotive Robert Fulton, who designed the first commercially successful paddle steamer Michael Faraday, who demonstrated the first electric generator and electric motor Joseph Wilson Swan and Thomas Alva Edison, who each independently invented the light bulb Samuel Morse, who designed a system of electric telegraphy and invented Morse Code Alexander Graham Bell, who is credited with inventing the telephone and Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz, who constructed the first motorcycle and motorcar, respectively, powered by high-speed internal-combustion engines of their own design.

A brief treatment of the Industrial Revolution follows. For full treatment, see Europe, history of: The Industrial Revolution.

The main features involved in the Industrial Revolution were technological, socioeconomic, and cultural. The technological changes included the following: (1) the use of new basic materials, chiefly iron and steel, (2) the use of new energy sources, including both fuels and motive power, such as coal, the steam engine, electricity, petroleum, and the internal-combustion engine, (3) the invention of new machines, such as the spinning jenny and the power loom that permitted increased production with a smaller expenditure of human energy, (4) a new organization of work known as the factory system, which entailed increased division of labour and specialization of function, (5) important developments in transportation and communication, including the steam locomotive, steamship, automobile, airplane, telegraph, and radio, and (6) the increasing application of science to industry. These technological changes made possible a tremendously increased use of natural resources and the mass production of manufactured goods.

There were also many new developments in nonindustrial spheres, including the following: (1) agricultural improvements that made possible the provision of food for a larger nonagricultural population, (2) economic changes that resulted in a wider distribution of wealth, the decline of land as a source of wealth in the face of rising industrial production, and increased international trade, (3) political changes reflecting the shift in economic power, as well as new state policies corresponding to the needs of an industrialized society, (4) sweeping social changes, including the growth of cities, the development of working-class movements, and the emergence of new patterns of authority, and (5) cultural transformations of a broad order. Workers acquired new and distinctive skills, and their relation to their tasks shifted instead of being craftsmen working with hand tools, they became machine operators, subject to factory discipline. Finally, there was a psychological change: confidence in the ability to use resources and to master nature was heightened.


What are the causes of the Industrial Revolution in England?

Enormous ex­pansion in Britain’s trade in overseas markets was one of the major causes of Technological Revolution. During the seventeenth and eighteenth cen­turies Britain had carved out an extensive colonial empire and successfully excluded the other powers like Spain, Holland and France from their markets. As a result, she acquired a sort of monopoly in these markets.

The growing demand for the British goods in these markets gave a stimu­lus to the British manufacturers to take to machine methods. It is well known that the mechanical inventions of the eighteenth century such as spinning, jenny of Hargreaves, the water-frame of Arkwright, the mule of Crompton and the power-loom of Cartwright etc. were invented to increase the production of cotton cloth which was in great demand in India. According to Birnie, “These inventions are sometimes spoken of as the primary cause of the Industrial Revolution.

In reality, they were a secondary cause only. Machines for turning out cheap goods in large quantities are useless unless there is a market capable of absorbing the increased output. The market must come first the inventions follow. Mechanical discoveries have often the appearance of being due to accident, but unconsciously the successful inventor works within limits laid down for him by the changing needs of society.”

2. Availability of Capital.

The vast amount of capital which England had accumulated out of profits of her growing trade enabled her to make large outlays on machinery and buildings, which in turn contributed to new technological developments.

In addition England also possessed a large amount of loanable capital obtained by the Bank of England from the rich trade of other countries. This capital also helped England to steal a march over other European countries.

3. Practical bent of mind of the English Researchers.

Another factor which contributed to England’s lead in the technological revolution was that the English scientists and engineers had a very practical bent of mind. They made inventions keeping in view the needs of the time.

They con­centrated mainly on those inventions of science which had practical utility. This was in complete contrast to the continental scientists who concen­trated on research in electricity chemicals etc. which were not of immedi­ate applied relevance.

4. Small population.

The small size of England’s population, which could not cope with England’s growing trade, also necessitated that new devices should be found out to keep production in line with the growing demand.

This is best exemplified by the changes in the textile industry as well as the coal industry. The shortage of the labour force compelled the owners to encourage and apply new mechanical devices.

5. Social and political stability.

Britain not only enjoyed complete freedom of trade but also an insular position which saved her from the disastrous consequences of war, which ravaged the countries of Europe.

This social stability prevailing in England encouraged the people to invest in sectors where they could hope to receive high dividend in future. This led to adoption of new techniques and promotion of new industries.

6. The availability of coal and iron mines close to each other.

The location of the coal and iron mines close to each other encouraged the English to evolve new techniques for the manufacture of iron and utilization of the coals. It is well known that the availability of coal and iron ores in large quantities greatly helped the growth of numerous industries in England.

The need for large quantities of coal for smelting of iron ores, transportation etc. necessitated improvement in the techniques of coal mining. Metal cages and tubs were used to lift coal. Even the use of wire ropes for lifting of coal was started a little later. Engines were invented to pump out the water from the mines.

7. The agricultural revolution.

In Britain the agricultural revolution had already taken place which greatly transformed the English society.

It not only made available necessary raw materials to run the new industries but also provided a large number of agricultural labourers for employment in the new factories.

8. Presence of enterprising people.

Finally, the technological changes in England were made possible because of the presence of a sizable sec­tion of people who possessed enterprising spirit and requisite technical qualities.

Further this class of people also possessed organizing abilities and was accustomed to the handling of large enterprises and labour force. These people were willing to invest money for the discovery of new tech­niques and give a fair trial to these techniques.

9. Risk-taking Private Sector.

The presence of a sizable private sector in the country with great capacity of the individual businessmen to take risks also greatly contributed to the industrial revolution. These business­men were willing to take a chance on new things.

In this way they were also supported by the government.

10. Better means of transport.

England possessed a far better network of means of transportation than any other country of Europe which greatly helped the industrial revolution. In this task the government played an important role which spent considerable amount on the improvement of roads and construction of canals.

11. Geographical location.

The geographical location of England also greatly helped in industrial revolution. Being cut-off from the mainland of Europe, England remained immune from wars and upheavals of Napo­leonic conflicts and conditions remained quite stable in the country. These stable conditions enabled England to develop their industrial capac­ity without fear of battle, damage or loss of life.

12. Flexibility of English social and political system.

Above all the flexibility of the English social and political system also greatly con­tributed to industrial revolution in England.

The members of the upper classes in Britain, unlike their counterparts in the continent, pursued their wealth in the new industrial framework with great enthusiasm. They worked in close co-operation with the middle classes and artisans which greatly facilitated the industrial revolution.

In short, we can say that in comparison to other European countries England was more favourably placed in many respects and no wonder stole lead over them in the field of technological revolution and industrialization.


Public Health in the Industrial Revolution

Public Health had been a long standing issue in towns and cities. Plagues and other diseases regularly killed huge numbers. The industrial Revolution saw the issue of Public Health become a matter at the heart of government policy. A rising population coupled with poor housing and long working hours, led to conditions in urban areas becoming atrocious. Slums quickly grew as cities bore the weight of the rapid increase in people. Diseases wreaked havoc.

The period quickly became one in which there was a struggle between reformers and traditionalists. Those who wanted to invest in cleaning up cities with those who baulked at the incredible cost of doing so. Slowly, under great political pressure, changes were made. Government legislated and thanks to scientific breakthroughs diseases were tackled more efficiently. The story of public health in the Industrial Revolution truly is one of the fight against the most unimaginable squalor and desperate conditions.

The links in this unit provide lots of source material on the period and issues.

Do you want to find other Primary Sources for use in your lessons, or for research purposes? Visit our Primary Sources page to see which areas we currently have a range of sources for.

Public Health in the Industrial Revolution. A Chronology.


While You Are Ringing In The Summer, Don't Forget To Remember The Importance Of What We Have Off For.

Home of the free because of the brave.

"The American flag does not fly because the wind moves it. It flies from the last breath of each solider who died protecting it."

On this present day in America, we currently have over 1.4 million brave men and women actively listed in the armed forces to protect and serve our country.

Currently there is an increased rate of 2.4 million retiree's from the US military

Approximately, there has been over 3.4 million deaths of soldiers fighting in wars.

Every single year, everyone look's forward to Memorial Day Weekend, a weekend where beaches become overcrowded, people fire up them grills for a fun sunny BBQ, simply an increase of summer activities, as a "pre-game" before summer begins.

Many American's have forgot the true definition of why we have the privilege to celebrate Memorial Day.

In simple terms, Memorial Day is a day to pause, remember, reflect and honor the fallen who died protecting and serving for everything we are free to do today.

Thank you for stepping forward, when most would have stepped backwards.

Thank you for the times you missed with your families, in order to protect mine.

Thank you for involving yourself, knowing that you had to rely on faith and the prayers of others for your own protection.

Thank you for being so selfless, and putting your life on the line to protect others, even though you didn't know them at all.

Thank you for toughing it out, and being a volunteer to represent us.

Thank you for your dedication and diligence.

Without you, we wouldn't have the freedom we are granted now.

I pray you never get handed that folded flag. The flag is folded to represent the original thirteen colonies of the United States. Each fold carries its own meaning. According to the description, some folds symbolize freedom, life, or pay tribute to mothers, fathers, and children of those who serve in the Armed Forces.

As long as you live, continuously pray for those families who get handed that flag as someone just lost a mother, husband, daughter, son, father, wife, or a friend. Every person means something to someone.

Most Americans have never fought in a war. They've never laced up their boots and went into combat. They didn't have to worry about surviving until the next day as gunfire went off around them. Most Americans don't know what that experience is like.

However, some Americans do as they fight for our country every day. We need to thank and remember these Americans because they fight for our country while the rest of us stay safe back home and away from the war zone.

Never take for granted that you are here because someone fought for you to be here and never forget the people who died because they gave that right to you.

So, as you are out celebrating this weekend, drink to those who aren't with us today and don't forget the true definition of why we celebrate Memorial Day every year.

"…And if words cannot repay the debt we owe these men, surely with our actions we must strive to keep faith with them and with the vision that led them to battle and to final sacrifice."


Employers took advantage of immigrants to fill their factories

Immigrants played a huge role during the Industrial Revolution, not just because they were a significant percentage of the workforce, but because their presence accelerated industrialization, as well. The late 1800s and early 1900s saw a huge influx of migrants come into the United States, with about 90% escaping situations like famine, crop failure, and job shortages in Europe, according to the Library of Congress and Washington State University. It was this wave of unskilled immigrants that "contributed to the growth and spread of factory manufacturing in the United States," according to Sukkoo Kim for the National Bureau of Economic Research, as employers took advantage of the new pool of immigrant laborers to establish more and more factories.

Unfortunately, with so many new workers, job competition was tough, with immigrant workers experiencing the worst of it. In addition to being socially discriminated against, they were subjected to the worst work conditions. Taking the unwanted jobs, they were often paid less than their non-immigrant counterparts. Because many of them spoke different languages, employers would also make sure to keep workers who spoke the same language apart in order to discourage any sense of community or rebellion.


making Edinburgh the most important financial city in Britain outside London. Education, government and law spawned a massive printing and publishing industry, with some of the household names of British publishing being based in the city.

But not all of Edinburgh’s history is on the surface – head below the city streets and you can uncover the secrets of underground Edinburgh at The Real Mary King’s Close. Buried deep below ground, this network of narrow alleyways and abandoned houses has been lying beneath the Royal Mile since the 17th century.


Why Did the Industrial Revolution Begin in Britain?

Why did the Industrial Revolution begin in Britain? Before the 18th century, most people lived off of the land, as they had done so for many generations. But in the next 150 years, there was an explosion of new ideas and technological inventions that changed the way we work, live and play.1 This period of time was known as the Industrial Revolution, and it began in Britain. There are many reasons as to why this is so. Coal in Britain was plentiful, and had many applications, which was integral to the Industrial Revolution.

Furthermore, its subsequent applications paved the way for technological advancements such as the steam engine. Beyond this, Britain had a form of government that supported industrialisation. Finally, capitalism, the new economic system in place, further stimulated Britain’s economy. All of these factors combined together allowed Britain to be the centre for the Industrial Revolution, and to eventually become the world’s industrial superpower. Coal was an essential mineral to the Industrial Revolution, as it was a powerful fuel source, and it was readily available for the British Empire.

Coal was much more powerful than timber, the resource used at the time. 2 If Britain were to transition successfully into the Industrial Revolution, it would need a cheap, abundant fuel source to power its machines. Luckily for Britain, coal was both of those things. Coal deposits in Britain were shallow, making it easy to mine. 3Furthermore, the mines were located near the sea, which allowed Britain’s strong navy to carry the coal cheaply to the markets.

This was in stark contrast to other countries at the time, where it was difficult to mine and expensive to transport. However, Britain did run into a problem with its coal extraction deeper mines were prone to flooding. Whilst a horse drawn cart was able to pump out water, it could only do so up to a depth of about 30 metres. The need for more coal, and the applications of coal, spurred the mind of Thomas Newcomen, who invented a machine that would be an essential part of the Industrial Revolution.

The steam engine was first designed by Thomas Newcomen. He created it to fix the problem of flooding mines. The engine could pump water out of mines, but it was highly inefficient, requiring tons of coal to power, and thus was limited in its use. 4 James Watt, a self-taught scientist, was able to improve the steam engine, making it more efficient, and allowed it to have many practical applications outside of mining. For instance, the steam engine could now be used in factories 5 and increased production of goods.

This new use of the steam engine allowed Britain to make goods at a cheaper cost, and spurned a profit for British factories. The steam engine revolutionised power, and made coal the most valuable and sought after resource in the world. Furthermore, factories did want to invest in steam engines, as the cost of labour in Britain was extremely high.6 This made the steam engine a staple in almost every factory. However, the steam engine could not have been built had there not been an incentive to do so, and the British government was partly responsible in encouraging scientists and inventors.

Charles Colville. The Industrial Revolution. (England: BBC Productions, 2013) Maureen Anderson et al., Retroactive 9: Australian Curriculum for History. (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2012) 3 Colville, The Industrial Revolution 4 Colville, The Industrial Revolution 5 John Green. Coal, Steam and the Industrial Revolution. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhL5DCizj5c (2012) 6 Ibid 2

1 The form of government in Britain was known as a parliamentary monarchy. This form of government was radically different to many of the other countries at the time, and was also partly responsible for allowing industrialization to occur in Britain. In a parliamentary monarchy, a monarch still exists, but they are more of a figurehead than of an absolute ruler. Parliament, a body of elected leaders, is what held the true power.

7 This new system was brought into place after a civil war, which occurred hundreds of years before Watts improved the steam engine. This new system turned out to be quite beneficial for the Industrial Revolution.

The basis of parliament is laws, and these laws were upheld and enforced. As a result, this new form of government encouraged entrepreneurship, as it allowed them to be free and not have their wealth taken away by the government. Property rights were strictly enforced, meaning that once a businessman owned something, whether it be a machine or an idea, that was theirs and could not be taken away.

Everything that happened in the Industrial Revolution occurred because people had incentives to do so. These incentives were extremely important in promoting growth and innovation, and the parliamentary monarchy was exceptionally good at encouraging the populace to do so. Another integral part of the Industrial Revolution was the freedom to pursue wealth. This was what drove innovation, and would not have been possible without capitalism.

According to historian Joyce Applebee, capitalism is “an economic system that relies on investment in capital in machines and technology that are used to increase production of marketable goods.” Capitalism gave people the freedom to pursue wealth, within the boundaries of the law. 8 An important aspect of capitalism was the fact that you had to compete with others. Whilst this may sound bad, it gave the all too important motivation for people to innovate.

Farms and businessmen were always competing with each other, creating machines that could make goods faster, plough fields faster, and increase production. This competition gave birth to such inventions as the spinning jenny,9 among other inventions. Furthermore, the strong property rights enforced by the government gave people financial security, so they were more able to take risks and reap the rewards, without little to no government interference. In conclusion, the Industrial Revolution began in Britain, for numerous reasons.

The combination of Britain’s geographical luck, mineral wealth, political liberalisation and capitalism all combined to ensure that Britain would be the first country to successfully industrialise. An important thing to note is that the Industrial Revolution was born out of need the need to compete with others and the need for cheap labour. It can be said that Britain was the only country that not only had the resources to industrialise, but also the ever growing necessity to industrialise, and this is why Britain became the industrial powerhouse of the 18th century.


The Cotton Industry and the Industrial Revolution

The United Kingdom experienced a huge growth in the cotton industry during the Industrial Revolution. The factories that were required to produce cotton became a legacy of the time – Sir Richard Arkwright at Cromford built the world’s first true factory to produce cotton. With an ever increasing population and an ever-expanding British Empire, there was a huge market for cotton and cotton factories became the dominant feature of the Pennines.

The north of England had many areas around the Pennines that were perfect for the building of cotton factories. The original factories needed a constant power supply and the fast flowing rivers in the Pennines provided this. In later years coal provided this power – this was also found in large quantities in the north of England.

The factories also needed a work force and the population in the northern cities provided this, especially as many families had been engaged in the domestic system prior to the industrialisation that occurred in the north. There was therefore a ready supply of skilled weavers and spinners.

Liverpool, a rapidly expanding port, also provided the region with a means of importing raw cotton from the southern states of America and exporting finished cotton abroad. The internal market was well served with decent transport means, especially when the railways extended from London to the north.

Of great importance to the cotton industry was the repeal in 1774 of a heavy tax that was charged on cotton thread and cloth made in Britain.

Combined with all the above factors were numerous inventions that transformed the British cotton industry and helped to make the UK the ‘workshop of the world’.

In 1733, John Kay invented the ‘Flying Shuttle’. This invention allowed wider cloth to be weaved and at a faster speed than before. Kay used his knowledge as a weaver to develop this machine.

In 1765, James Hargreaves invented the ‘Spinning Jenny’. Within twenty years the number of threads one machine could spin rose from six to eighty.

In 1769, Richard Arkwright patented the ‘Water Frame’. This, as its title would suggest, used water as a source of power but it also produced a better thread than the spinning jenny.

In 1779, Crompton’s ‘Mule’ was invented. This combined the good points of the water frame and the spinning jenny and resulted in a machine that could spin a cotton thread better than any other machine.

In 1781 Boulton and Watt invented a steam engine that was easy to use within a cotton factory. By the 1790’s, the steam engine was used in increasing numbers in cotton factories. Therefore there was less reliance of water and the availability of water. Factories tended to be built nearer coalmines as a result.

In the 1800’s the industry witnessed a spread in the use of chemical bleaches and dyes, which meant that bleaching, dyeing and printing could all be done in the same factory.

In 1812, the first decent weaving machine, Robert’s Power Loom, was invented. This meant that all stages in the making of cotton could now be done in one factory.

All these inventions had a major impact in the amount of cotton produced in Great Britain – and the fortune this represented. In 1770, the cotton was worth around £600,000. By 1805, this had grown to £10,500,000 and by 1870, £38,800,000. By comparison, over the same hundred years, wool had increased in value from £7,000,000 to £25,400,000 and silk from £1,000,000 to £8,000,000. In Manchester alone, the number of cotton mills rose dramatically in a very short space of time: from 2 in 1790 to 66 in 1821.

While some made fortunes from the cotton factories, those who worked in them had no union protection against excessive work, dangerous conditions and low pay – this was to come much later. While a visitor to Arkwright’s Cromford factory described the building as “magnificent” in 1790, conditions inside for a worker were less than magnificent. However, Arkwright was considered to be a decent owner who did go some way to looking after his workforce. Arkwright built cottages for his workers, but they were built so close to the factories that developed Cromford that if a worker had any time off, he or she would not be in a position to get away from the environment in which they worked. He also built a Sunday school for the children who worked at Cromford mill and his best workers were rewarded with bonuses of dairy cows. Arkwright also rented out allotments at cheap rates. But not all factory owners were like Arkwright.

It was also profitable to employ children to do work, as they were cheaper than adults. They were especially useful at crawling under machines to clear up fallen cotton thread and tying together loose ends. With no birth certificates in the early years of factories, no factory manager would find himself blamed for employing underage children, as many children themselves did not know their age. Even when birth certificated were introduced in 1836, child labour did not stop.

The hours that children worked in textile factories started to change in 1833 when an Act of Parliament was passed. The 1833 Factory Act forbade the employment of children under nine years of age in all textile mills (excluding lace and silk). Children under thirteen were not allowed to work for more than nine hours a day and not more than 48 hours in one week. Under eighteens were not allowed to work for more than 12 hours a day and not more than 69 hours in a week. They were also not allowed to work at night. Children employed in a factory between the ages of nine and eleven also had to have two hours of education each day.

This act was built on in 1844 with another Factory Act that restricted children aged between 8 and 13 to half-day working (6.5 hours) which had to be completed either before or after noon – the working time could not straddle midday. However, the law was very difficult to enforce, as there were few factory inspectors and those who were employed to do this work were poorly paid. There were also many parents who wanted their children to work and aided factory managers in bypassing this legislation. In 1847, another Factory Act stated that everyone under 18 and all women were only allowed to work a maximum of ten hours a day.


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