When Men Made Machines: Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution, which began in Britain in the late 18th century before spreading globally, was a profound period of economic, technological, and social transformation. It represented a shift from agrarian and handcraft-based economies to industrialized ones, characterized by the mechanization of production processes, the establishment of factory systems, and rapid urbanization. Key technological innovations such as the steam engine and textile machinery revolutionized manufacturing, leading to increased productivity and the mass production of goods. This period also witnessed significant social changes, including the emergence of a working class, and the transformation of social structures. The Industrial Revolution had far-reaching impacts on societies worldwide, reshaping economies, cultures, and ways of life.

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Industrial Revolution
A Period of Thriving Change

The 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.

The Industrial Revolution marked the transition from handmade goods to machine-made goods as a result of technological inventions. This period is often referred to as the First Industrial Revolutions that was confined to britain, which by then had become a colonial superpower. Here, advances were made in science and technology, in the fields of iron, steam, textile, and transport. The Second Revolution took place in the late 1850s, when the new inventions of the First Revolution spread to America and Germany. This phase saw immense progress in the steel, electronics, and automobile industries.

The Revolution spread in three waves originated in Great Britain, The first wave occured in Britain, France, Belgium, the German states and the united states during late 1700s and early 1800s. The second wave occured in spain, portugal, Austria-Hungary, Italy and the Ottoman Empire(China) in late 1800s. The third wave occured in Asia, Africa and Latin America in the early 1900s.

The period of early 19th century witnessed a shift from agrarian-based economies to industrialized systems driven by machinery and manufacturing. The introduction of mechanization, technological advancements such as the spinning jenny and power loom propelled production industries forward, forever changing the landscape of production.

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Advancement in Agriculture

One significant change of industrial sector development during this time is advancements made in agriculture. Innovations like the seed drill, developed by Jethro Tull in 1701 is-a machanical seeder that sowered efficiently at the correct depth and spacing and then covered the seed so that it could grow-increased crop yields by allowing for more precise and efficient planting practises. 

The enclosure movement, which consolidated small landholdings into larger, more productive farms-it was push in the 18th and 19th centuries to take land that had formerly been owned in common by all members of a village, or atleast available to the public for grazing animals and growing food, and change it to privately owned land, usually with walls, fences or hedges around it. The movement had its roots in Netherlands, it was most well-known in the British Isles, and it spread throughout the Northern Europe as the industrialization move-also played a significant role in agricultural progress. 

These advancements in farming bolstered food production, supported population growth, and freed up a significant portion of the labor force, enabling them to migrate to urban areas and contribute to industrial sectors. 

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Boston Manufacturing Company, 1813-16, 
Waltham, Massachusetts

Rise of Textiles

The textile industry was one of the earliest and most crucial industrial sectors to emerge in the 19th century. Textile production was the first to employ the factory system. Before industries began, people produced cotton cloth and woollen goods in their homes, or on a small scale, and it was referred to as a cottage industry. Merchants and Traders supplied the raw materials and equipments and returned to pick up the finished goods. But the demand for cotton grew when the upper class began to prefer it. Cotton was the first textile product to undergo mechanisation and mass production. The demand for inexpensive wool and yarn also increased within no time. By the late 18th century, Britain was the world's leading manufacturer of textiles.

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The first synthetic dye-mauve
Mechanic John Kay developed the flying shuttle that led to a twofold increase in cloth production. It required four spinners to maintain one loom and ten people to develop yarn for one weaver. 

Englishman James Hargreaves invented the spinning jenny(or engine), after his daughter Jenny pushed the family's spinning wheel to the floor, by mistake. James noticed that the spindle had not stopped turning. This gave him the idea that one wheel could turn many spindles at the same time. The jenny drew threads from eight spindles.

Richard Arkwright patented the water frame-the first automatic spinning machine employing a water wheel. It produced stronger threads than the spinning jenny. The large water frame would not fit in the spinners' homes, so Arkwright built the first modern factory, a water powered cotton mill next to a stream in Cromford, Derbyshire, England.

British inventor Samuel Crompton merged the features of jenny and the water frame to create the Crompton's spinning mule. The mule could make both fine and coarse yarn, and one person could operate 1000 spindles at the same time! But Crompton didn't have the funds to patent his creation and was cheated by manufacturers. Soon, hundreds of Britain's Textile factories were using spinning mule.

In 1810-boston manufacturing company
Massachusetts merchant Francis Cabot Lowell memorised the design of the textile machines when he was permitted to tour britain's factories but not allowed to take notes. Back home, he recreated the designs and started the Boston Manufacturing Company-America's first cloth mill, several largescale mills came up in Massachusetts, so this time is considered to be the 'Cradle  of the American Industrial Revolution'.

In 1812-Industrialisation in yarn
As britain profited from the cotton production of its American colonies, the cost of producing cotton yarn reduced by nine-tenths. With the industrialisation of yarn production, workers who turned wool into yarn were also reduced by four-fifths.

In 1830-steam engine
The demand for cotton rose so high that the steam engine had to be introduced to speed up the textile industry.

In 1856-mauve
During Easter vacation from London's Royal college of Chemistry, 18-year-old William Henry Perkin(1838-1907) invented the first synthetic dye. He first called it anline purple, but later renamed it mauve. Since the dye was cheaper than natural pigments, it was soon applied to cotton fabrics and used by everyone.

A view of Coalbrookdale Ironworks, Shropshire, England (1758)
Coal and Iron

Before the Industrial Revolution, Britain. like the rest of Europe, produced coal in a limited quantity because of the small size of coal pits and the abundance of opencast mines. Only local businesses used them. With industrialisation, methods of production improved, and so did the methods of transportation. Fossil fuels like coal, natural gas, and oil became popular, through coal led the way.

Coal & Canals
Before 1750, Britain's roads were not smooth and well-connected, and ships were used to transport coal. In 1761, the Duke of Bridgewater inaugurated a canal from Worsley to Manchester for carrying coal. The demand for cheaper coal helped expand production and made him rich. Seeing his success, coal-mine owners built other canals.

The demand for Coal & Iron Industry
The iron industry became the major coal user. An English village, Coalbrookdale pioneered iron tramways that helped transport coal to buyers or even within the mines. Iron was used in the construction industry as well as to build coal-operated steam engines. Coal production increased by 50 per cent in 1700-1750, and by the year 1850, it went beyond 500 per cent. It was cheaper than wood and produced three times more energy. As the demand for coal increased, mines were dug deeper and mining became more dangerous. A series of steam-engine innovation helped pump water from the ground and dig deeper for coal. Richard Trevithick built the first moving steam engine in 1801. He believed that a steam engine on rails would be more effective than horse wagons to carry loads of coal and iron to and from the mines.

First Coke
In 1700, the iron industry was on a decline and there was a shortage of charcoal. This was solved in 1709 by Abraham Darby, an ironmaster who, having worked with brass, moved to Coalbrookdale, Shropshire, England and purchased a semi-derelict blast furnace. He was the first to use coke-a from of processed coal-to smelt iron. This was a success story as it separated iron from ironstone. In 1715, he opened a second blast furnace. His son Abraham Darby II succeeded him and he learned to make better quality coke by burning coal in ovens and thereby improve the quality of iron. When Darby II died in 1763. his son Abraham Darby III continued the business, and he built a unique bridge above River Severn using iron from his late grandfather's furnace.

Coal & Brass
The West Midlands, England, was nicknamed the 'Black Country' because the entire area was covered with black smoke and soot from coal used in iron foundries, steel mills, and furnaces during the Industrial Revolution. In Birmingham, England, the metal industry boomed with the mass production of buttons, brass fittings, pins, guns, and nails.

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From Iron to Steel

With the rapid growth of industries and infrastructure, iron and steel became very important materials and were inclined in many buildings and construction processes. In time, steel began to be preferred over iron because it is stronger, though it is also more difficult to produce. Steel came to be used in weapons, transportation, telegraph lines, and buildings.

Steel Mills
It was in 1901, the United States Steel Corporation was formed and it was one of the world's largest steel-producing companies at the time. Throughout the 20th century, the scale of steel production increased dramatically for all stages of infrastructure. 

This included constructing large-scale blast furnaces to melt iron ore, open-hearth furnaces, oxygen furnaces, molten steel casting, and port-based mills from where ships transported raw materials and finished goods, as seen in countries like South Korea and Japan. Steel mills were being built close to locations that had huge deposits of coal and iron ore. For instance, such deposits around Birmingham, Alabama, Minnesota, and Michigan led to the construction of steel mills in the Great Lakes region of United States.

The steel industry skyrocketed in the late 19th and 20th centuries during second Industrial Revolution and vastly transformed America. More and more buildings had to be constructed to accommodate the country's immigrant population. Steel was chosen for the inner skeleton inside stone constructions because it could withstand harsh conditions and was strong enough to support the skyscrapers it was used in.

William Le Baron Jenney constructed the first skyscraper in 1885 called the Home Insurance Building. It was 138 feet tall and had 10 storeys. The building was supported using Iron Frame skeleton.

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Machine tools used in the production of manufacturing machines were important during the Industrial Revolution. They were originally developed in the 18th century as tools for clock, watch and for scientific instrument makers to produce small, precise mechanism in batches. These small mechanisms, when used in textile machines, were called 'clockwork' because of their metal gears and spindles. 

Birmingham, in 1830s England, is an example of how manufacturing changed because of machine tools. A new machine by William Joseph Gillott, William Mitchell, and James Stephen Perry helped mass-produce sturdy and cost effective steel nibs for dip-writing pens. The production of these items used to be taxing and costly.

Growth of Bigger Machines
The early models of machines used very little metal because they were manually shaped with files, saws, hammers, chisels and scrapers. But after the Industrial Revolution, machine tools were used to make small metal parts and frames. Production of large machine parts was a problem till the cylinder boring machine was designed for steam engines. At the start of the 19th century, the slotting machine was developed and then the milling machine, which only gained prominence during the Second Industrial Revolution.

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The internal combustion engine and the gasoline-powered automobile changed the face of transportation. Automobile replaced the horse-and-carriage mode of transport and offered far greater mobility to the public.
The increase in the trading process of goods and services, is a result of rapid industrialisation, instantly improved Britain's transport pathways. This created many jobs. Engineers were called in to construct more tunnels and bridges, and find more routes. The creation of railroads led to an increase in the demand for coal and fuel to construct locomotives, and iron was required to build rail tracks. For instance, by 1815. Britain had around 2,000 miles of functional canals; and by 1840, the US had over 3,000 miles of railroad tracks.

The introduction of steam-powered locomotives and the construction of railways revolutionized the movement of goods and people. In the 1840s the Railway Mania began. Railroad construction in America boomed from the 1830s to the 1870s. European countries too followed Britain in building railroads.

 The first railroad built in Great Britain was the Stockton and Darlington, opened in 1825. it used steam locomotive built by George Stephenson and was practiced only for hauling minerals. The Liverpool and Manchester Railway. which opened in 1830, was the first modern railroad. Followed by America on February 28, 1827, it completed construction of The First Regular carrier of passengers and freight was the Baltimore and Ohio railroad. Railways became the backbone of industrial development, connecting previously isolated regions and facilitating the swift transport of raw materials, dairy products and finished products.

However, it was on 16th April 1853, the first passenger train ran between Bori Bunder (Bombay) and Thane, covering a distance of 34km. it was operated by three locomotives, named Sahib, Sultan and Sindh, and had thirteen carriages. And the first Railway Workshop was established at Jamalpur, near Munger, Bihar, in 1862. In 1864, the north got its first station-the Delhi Junction. The oldest one of the city, it was a major station and junction and remains so till date.

Before industrialisation, British roads were the decayed remains of what the Romans had built over a millennium and a half ago. Then, Mary I, also known as Queen Mary Tudor, passed a law stating parishes would be in-charge of improving their own roads using the assistance of workers six days a week, for free, and landowners had to provide the equipment. Unfortunately, the workers were not well-trained and didn't do much to restore the roads.

Turnpike Trust
The British road system introduced Turnpike Trusts-organisation that took care of few sections on the road and charged every traveller a toll. The first turnpike was created in 1663, on the Great North Road, and the first actual trust was formed in 1703 by the parliament. 

While many turnpikes worked toward improving the speed and quality of travel, some trusts for turnpikes kept all the money and did nothing for the improvement of roads. As turnpike covered only a fifth of the British road network, local transport did not benefit much, and, in fact, some parish roads were better maintained. However, wheeled transport expanded right under the reign of turnpikes.

After 1750 
Due to Britain's industrial expansion and population growth, the government passed laws to stop the road system from decaying any further, but it did not improve it anyway. The Broad Wheel Act of 1753 widened the wheels on vehicles, and the General Highway Act of 1767 adjusted the sizes of the wheels and the number of horses per carriage. In 1776, a law was passed for parishes to employ men specifically to repair roads.

By 1800, the quality of roads improved. Stagecoaches became so frequent that they had their own timetables. In 1784, the Royal Mail was introduced and its coaches delivered the post across Britain. While various industries used them, roads played only a small role in moving freight-a task that canals and railways did efficiently. Roads, however, played an important part in transporting goods and people once they came off the railways and canals.

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Impact on Society

The development of industrial sectors during the early 19th century had profound social implications. The rapid urbanization resulting from the growth of factories and industries drew a massive influx of rural residents to cities. This migration led to the formation of crowded urban centers, characterized by inadequate housing, poor working conditions, and social inequalities. The emergence of a working class, consisting primarily of factory employees, created a paradigm shift in society, challenging existing socio-economic hierarchies and inspiring labor movements seeking better working conditions and workers' rights.

The requirement for manpower started reducing in factories with the introduction of machines. Instead of one worker making a piece of fabric, a variety of machines worked simultaneously to produce it, And, instead of only one worker undertaking the entire process of converting the raw wool to dyed fabrics, each worker was assigned only one task in the process following the assembly-line approach. This increased the working speed, but performing the same task repeatedly became monotonous for the workers.

It was found that the cities situated near railroads prospered economically, compared to those away from the rail routes. Factories began to thrive because a routine had been formed-finished goods were being transported from factory doorsteps to the markets, daily. Raw materials too were being transported from the markets to the factories, every day. Many companies only worked to build and operate railways. In time, large railways companies purchased the smaller ones and kept growing in the process.

Environmental Consequences

While the development of industrial sectors brought economic prosperity, it also had adverse environmental consequences. The rapid industrialization led to extensive resource exploitation, deforestation, and pollution. The burning of fossil fuels for energy generation released substantial amounts of carbon dioxide, contributing to the early impacts of climate change. These environmental concerns continue to be a global challenge, and efforts to mitigate and reverse the damages caused by industrialization are ongoing.

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The beginning of the 19th century witnessed a remarkable transformation in the industrial sectors, forever changing the course of human civilization. The advancements made during this era laid the foundation for modern industrialization, technology, and economic systems. The rise of the textile industry, advancements in agriculture, and improvements in transportation. Have shaped the world into what it is today. However, the rapid expansion of industry also brought about social and environmental challenges that we continue to grapple with. As we move forward, it is essential to learn from the past and strike a balance between industrial development and environmental sustainability for a prosperous future.

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