The Industrial Revolution played a major role in shaping today’s modern world. It began in 18th century Britain; the heart of the Industrial Revolution. At this time, Britain had just experienced the Agricultural Revolution, which led to many new concepts and inventions; these inventions replaced many farmer’s jobs, so these farmers went to look for work in factories. Great Britain also controlled many colonies from whom they gained valuable resources. Surprisingly, it was not until a century later that other countries took place in the Industrial Revolution.
This essay will focus on why the Industrial Revolution began in 18th century Britain. During the Agricultural Revolution, many new machines and tools were invented that improved the efficiency of farming. Instead of 5 men needed to grow a field of crops, only 2 men were needed. This meant that many farmers were out of jobs, as these machines and tools had replaced them. Many of these farmers moved to the city to seek new jobs in new factories. This sparked a population boom, Britain gained valuable knowledge and concepts during the Agricultural Revolution.
Animal breeders only bred the animals with the best traits, meaning that their offspring would have those same traits. More efficient ways to farm crops were discovered, along with ways to keep the soil rich with nutrients. Without these concepts, many industries like the cotton and wheat industries would not have been as effective or efficient. For the Industrial Revolution to take place, Britain needed a sustainable energy source to promote all of the activity. This could not be done with wood, which was their first energy source. This new source would need to be efficient and plentiful.
Luckily, Britain had an abundance of coal, which was both efficient and plentiful. Without coal, the Industrial Revolution would not have been possible. As the demand for coal grew higher, coal mines grew deeper. This put the mines at a greater chance of flooding. When these mines flooded, coal could no longer be mined, so they would have to start a new mine. Thomas Newcomen, realised that if the water could be pumped out of the mines, they would be able to continue mining. In 1712, he invented the water pump, which did exactly that.
This now meant that Britain had a practically unlimited source of coal to fuel the Industrial Revolution. Due to a large population, there was a large demand for jobs. Factories always had someone working shifts, and were never any workers short. Many people did not get jobs, but they were able to start their own factories or businesses, and employ others. Since there was a growing population, more factories and businesses were started, more industries created, and more jobs created. Although Britain discovered many concepts and theories, and invented new technology, it did not mean that they were intellectually superior.
Many countries such as France came up with these concepts and ideas, however they were ridiculed and stopped by the church. The French government did not invest in manufacturing, and were setback by wars. Britain on the other hand invested in manufacturing, and unlike France, did not engage in any wars. Britain’s geography helped it greatly during the Industrial Revolution. It was isolated, separated from other countries by a large body of water. This kept it away from wars. While other countries were at war, Britain was able to grow its industries and population.
A war in Britain during the Industrial Revolution would have had a devastating effect, many resources and lives would have been plundered, setting back Britain’s progress by at least a decade, depending on the severity of the war. Many people realised that if they could invent something to improve the efficiency of an industry, they would gain a lot of money. James Watt improved Thomas Newcomen’s steam engine, making it 20 times more efficient. He was instantly rich. With his new fortune, he invested in silk, cotton, flour and paper, and built factories that produced each of them.
Not only did those industries benefit from having more factories, all industries benefited from the improved steam engine, which made production faster and more efficient. Without consumers there would have been no point in producing goods. When goods were transported inside Britain they did not have to pass through internal customs barriers, meaning that they would receive a greater profit. When you pass an internal customs barrier, you would have to pay a tax. France was divided by many internal customs barriers, which hindered their conomy as manufacturing and selling did not return that much profit, so it was not looked upon as a profitable business. In Britain manufacturing was the most profitable business, so everyone wanted to be a part of that industry. The Industrial Revolution began in 18th century Britain because the conditions were “just right”. The earlier agricultural revolution had given them the knowledge needed to progress, and they had the right resources to progress. These resources included: Coal, Iron, Wheat and various other textiles. Britain also had a large consumer base, which helped them receive greater profits.
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