Why the Industrial Revolution began in Britain?

  • Improved agricultural methods provided more and better food supplies
  • Several new machines were invented in Britain at this time, which speeded up the manufacture of industrial goods.
  • Britain ruled over many countries called colonies. The colonies provided Britain with cheap cotton and other raw materials
  • Transport improved greatly in Britain due to the construction of better roads, canals and railways.

Changes in Textile-Making

  • Spinning of Wool
  • Weaving of Thread

Textile making moved into large buildings called factories

Textile making came to be controlled by rich factory-owners

Former craftsmen had to seek work in growing cities, where the factories were situated. There, they were cruelly exploited by the factory-owners.

Inventions in Textile-Making

Spinning Inventions

James HargreavesSpinning JennyCould spin eight threads at a time.
Richard ArkwrightWater FrameCould spin hundreds of threads.

Weaving Inventions

John KayFlying ShuttleDoubled the speed of weaving.
Edmund CartwrightPower LoomUsed steam power to weave cloth quickly.


Coal Mining

Coal Mining played a vital role in the Industrial Revolution. Two inventions allowed coal to play such an important Role.

  1. Many coal mines could not be used because they were flooded with water. But in 1705 Thomas Newcomen invented the Steam Engine, which could pump water out from the mines.
  2. Burning coal did not generate enough heat to smelt iron ore to make iron and steel. But in 1705 Abraham Darby discovered that coal could be converted into coke, which could be used in the smelting process.

The Steam Engine

The Steam Engine was the greatest invention of the Industrial Revolution.

  • Thomas Newcomen invented the steam engine in 1705
  • In 1763, James Watt invented the ‘Rotary steam engine’ (further developed Newcomens invention). Watt’s machine could be used to turn other machines in factories, so it mechanised and speeded up manufacturing.

Iron and Steel

Three inventions were responsible for huge growth in iron and steel-making during the Industrial Revolution!

  1. In 1709 Abraham Darby discovered how to convert coal in coke, which became the chief source of power for smelting iron ore.
  2. In 1794 Henry Cort discovered ‘Puddling and Rolling’, which was a better way of making wrought iron. Liquid pig iron was stirred and then run through rollers to make sheets of wrought iron.
  3. In 1856 Henry Bessemer invented a ‘converter’ This involved blowing hot air through melted pig iron to burn off its impurities. Resulted in better and cheaper steel.

Effects of the Industrial Revolution

The Growth of Cities

Poor people crowded into urban areas in search of work.


Britain became rich through increased overseas trade. British colonies provided raw materials for Britain’s growing factories as well as markets for Britain’s manufactured goods.


Cotton began to replace wool as the most popular fabric. Big machines made cloth more cheaply than before, so the cost of clothing decreased. However, workers were so poorly paid that they themselves could afford few clothes.

Working Conditions:

People working in factories and mines were exploited cruelly.

Effects to improve working conditions.

  • Workers fought to establish trades unions.
  • Many people became socialists.