Many innovations, inventions and technological changes took place during this period. It helped to make the industrialised countries more powerful and efficient. Now production could be done much faster and in large quantities which made things cheaper. These inventions had maximum impact on the textile and transport industries.
Technological advancements in the textile industry started a series of inventions in iron and steel production. Other countries were inspired to follow the example of England as manufactured goods from England were flooding the world markets. To safeguard their interests Britain passed laws to ban textile workers from leaking out information about industrial technology or to travel to other countries.
But in 1789, Samuel Slater slipped out of England to America. He took the knowledge of British textile industry with him which initiated Industrial Revolution in America. Vast new areas were brought under cotton plantations in America which increased the demand for slaves.
Similar incidents started Industrial Revolution in France and Germany also. Arkright was called ‘The Father of the Factory System’. He created the first factory that was specially built to house machinery, where the working hours were fixed and the people were employed rather than kept on contractual basis.
In 1779, Samuel Crompton invented the ‘Spinning Mule’ while Edmond Cartwright made the first water driven powered loom. The textile industry stimulated other industries such as dying, bleaching, and printing.
The innovations and technological changes which led to advancement in manufacturing, transport and communication industries followed closely with chemical, electrical, petroleum and steel industries. The discovery of trade routes not only gave a boost to Industrial Revolution but also led to a competition among colonial and imperialist powers for expanding their empires to fulfill the need of industries for raw materials, new markets and cheap labour.
The imperialist expansions led to struggle for supremacy and the two world wars. The colonies were exploited; their traditional social, economic and political systems were destroyed. They started opposing the foreign rule and to establish their own nations.
Another major achievement of the Industrial Revolution was the development and application of steam power. Even the earlier devices were improved upon and developed into machines as the number of industries had increased. So, enormous power was needed for production. In 1705, Thomas Newcomen built an engine for pumping water from coal mines.
In 1764, James Watt improved upon the design and improved the efficiency of Newcomen’s engine fourfold. He introduced a chamber with a jet of cold water to condense the steam and cause vacuum. This was also a period of transfer of one technology to another. Watt used John Wilkinson’s drill gun to bore the large cylinder for his engine. The steam engine soon replaced the earlier locomotive coal engines.
It increased the demand for railway lines. The steam engine made the technology portable and was in demand by other industries. Now there was no need to locate the factories along rivers or lakes any longer.
Coal and Iron
The steam engine, coal and iron laid the foundation for modern industry. Coal was moved along horizontal tunnels in baskets and then hauled up a vertical shaft to the surface. The movement of coal from mines was totally dependent on muscle power - animals, men, women and children. The coal mines had dangerous working conditions.
Unfortunately the children were preferred because of their small size. The demand for coal went up with the increase in the use of steam power. Great progress was made in coal mining such as tunnel ventilation, transportation of coal, use of gunpowder to blast away ridges and the use of safety lamps. But the coal miners suffered from many hazards and health problems like lung disease.
Significant improvements were made in the iron industry during this time. In 1709, Abraham Darby produced pig iron smelted with coke. Earlier pig iron was smelted with charcoal which was derived from wood which resulted in fast depletion of England’s forests. In 1784, Henry Cort, an ironmaster, developed a process for producing a less brittle iron. It was called wrought iron. It proved to be a very useful
metal in industrial processes. In 1774, John Wilkinson invented a drilling machine that could drill holes with great accuracy. Between 1788 and 1806, the production of iron increased many times and the use of iron spread to farm machinery, hardware, shipbuilding, etc.
The development in the iron and textile industries made it necessary to invent better transportation facilities for cheaper and quicker movement of goods. It was urgently required to fulfill the need of domestic and foreign markets.
Means of Transportation and Communication
The improvement in the means of transport and communication was a great encouragement to the Industrial Revolution. The raw materials, finished products, food and people needed a reliable system of transportation. Improvements in bridges and road construction were made early in the 1700’s.
They helped to transport the raw materials and factory made products to their destinations. In 1814, George Stephenson built the first steam locomotive engine to run on railway tracks. Soon the steam engines and railways were transporting goods over tracks throughout England and supporting the canal transportation.
During the mid-19th century wooden steam powered ships took over sailing ship. Soon after iron ship was used for travelling across the ocean. If the first phase of Industrial Revolution depended on steam, then the second phase depended on electricity.
Michael Faraday had the distinction of inventing the first electric motor. Electricity now became commercially available and was used to run the factories. Faster means of transportation and communication speeding up business transactions, contacts between army units, colonies, countries and even common people. The invention of telegraph and telephone made it possible to communicate anywhere in the world instantly.