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Inventions During Industrial Revolution In Britain

Updated on July 31, 2017
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Varsha is an enthusiast writer who loves to share informational content. She loves to write about World History.

What is Industrial Revolution?

The term Industrial Revolution is used to describe those spectacular changes and inventions which revolutionalise the whole industrial system of a country.
This term was used for the first time in England by a great historian Arnold Toynbee(1889-1983)to describe the changes that occurred in the British industries developing between 1760 and 1820.
Every branch of English industry witnessed profound and complete changes. They had far reaching effects on the country. Later, similar changes came in the European countries like Belgium, France and Germany as well as in the U.S.A. In the course of time, they had a major impact on the society and economy of the industrialised countries and also on the rest of the world.

Important Inventions:

1) COTTON SPINNING AND WEAVING: The Industrial Revolution in Britain comprised six great changes which were interdependent.

i)KAY'S FLYING SHUTTLE,1733: In 1733, John Kay invented the famous 'flying shuttle'. It speeded up the process of weaving. Besides, it made weaving of broad cloth by one man possible. This invention increased the demand for yarn.

ii)HARGREAVES SPINNING JENNY,1765: In 1765, a blacksmith, James Hargreaves invented a new spinning machine called the 'spinning jenny'. This new machine consisted of eight spindles. Thus, by this machine, one spinner could now do the work of eight spinners.

iii)ARKWRIGHT'S WATER FRAME,1769: In 1769, Arkwright, a Bolton barber, invented the famous 'water frame'. This machine consisted of a series of rollers and was run by water power or horse power. By this machine, a hard and firm yarn suitable for warp was easily spun. These rollers could not work in small homes but in big factories where water power was available. Arkwright's invention meant the coming of the factory system.

iv)CROMPTON'S MULE,1779: Samuel Crompton, a Boston spinner, invented a new machine called 'mule'. It combined the merits of both Hargreaves' and Arkwright's inventions. By this machine, fine and strong yarn could be easily spun. It made the production of fine muslin possible.

v)POWERLOOM OF CARTWRIGHT,1785: In 1785, Edmund Cartwright invented a new type of weaving machine called 'powerloom'. Though this machine was clumsy, it marked a great change in the whole system of weaving and restored the balance between spinning and weaving.

vi)THE COTTON GIN OF WHITNEY,1793: In 1793, Eli Whitney, an American, invented Cotton Gin which made available cheap supply of raw cotton for spinning. This machine easily removed seeds from the cotton fibres. This machine gave impetus to cotton textile industry.

These inventions brought about revolutionary changes in cotton textile industry. The production of cloth increased many fold.

2)STEAM POWER: The invention of steam power, a cheap and portable source of power, greatly revolutionised the industrial system. Thomas Savery invented a model steam engine called the 'Miner's Friend' in 1698 to drain mines. In 1715, Newcomer built another steam engine which was used only for pumping water out of coal mines. James Watt invented "a practical and economical steam engine". He made the steam engine the practical mover of all kinds of machinery. By the year 1790, every kind of machinery was deriving its power from Watt's invention. Steam engine technology was further developed with the use of lighter and stronger metals. In 1840, British steam engines were generating more than 70 per cent of all European steam power.

3)COAL, IRON AND STEEL: The coal, iron and steel industry also witnessed a revolution. Early in the eighteenth century, Abraham Darby made an important discovery that coke instead of charcoal can be used for smelting. In 1784, Henry Cort introduced new methods of rolling and puddling iron. The other developments of prime importance were Humphry Davy's 'Safety Lamp' and Huntsman's improvement in the method of casting hard steel.
As early as in 1770s, John Wilkinson made the first iron chairs, vats for breweries and distilleries and iron pipes of various sizes. In 1779, the third Darby built the first iron bridge in the world in Cole Brookdale, spanning the river Severn.
Coal industry had great share in industrialisation of England. The industry had no problem of raw material or market. The output of coal which was 10 million tons in 1800 rose to 300 million tons by 1918.

4)CANALS, RAILWAYS AND COMMUNICATION: Remarkable changes were brought about in the means of transport and communication in the latter half of the 18th century and in the 19th century.

i)ROADS: John Macadam, a Scottish engineer discovered the use of small stones in the building of good roads. The engineers like Telford and Metcalf also assisted in the construction of new roads. The whole road system of Britain was revolutionised.

ii)CANALS: In the beginning, the canals were built to transport coal to the cities. After the canals were completed, the price of coal fell by half. The pioneer of the revolution in waterways was the Duke of Bridgewater. He employed the great canal engineer, Brindley who designed the famous canal from Worsley to Manchester (The Bridgewater Canal). Later many new canals opened up the industrial areas of Lancashire and Yorkshire coalfields.

iii)LOCOMOTIVES AND RAILWAYS: The most important invention of the period was the invention of Locomotive by George Stephenson, who is generally called the father of the Steam Locomotive. His locomotive called'Puffing Billy' began the modern railway system. The railways emerged as a new means of transportation that was available throughout the year. They were cheap and fast means of carrying goods and passengers. They combined two inventions: a) The iron track which replaced the wooden track;b)Haulage by the steam engine. The first railway line in England connected the cities of Stockton and Darlington in 1825, a distance of nine miles. The next railway line connected Liverpool and Manchester in 1830. Thus, the whole transport system in Britain was revolutionised. Most of the England had been connected by railways by 1850.

iv)COMMUNICATION: A penny postal system was started in England in 1840. The communication by electricity was a great invention of the period. In 1839, Morse invented the telegraph; in 1876, Bell introduced the telephone and in 1896, Marconi invented wireless.


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    • varsha bang profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from India

      Thanks a lot.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Useful article.... good compilation... could include even more but that's good....

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I appreciate you sharing this! I've been looking for some insight on finding quality industrial movers in Vancouver, and this gave me some insight on what to look for when choosing a company. So far this and have been the most helpful. Thanks for sharing!


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