Causes of the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain

MatthewA By MatthewA, 10th Nov 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>History

Ultimately, the causes of the British Industrial Revolution can be put down to a number of factors. Ranging from the technological advancements, to resource available, geographical and economic factors.

Causes of the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain

Let us first look at the development of the steam engine. Sir Thomas Newcomen and Sir James Watt designed the first steam engines in the 18th century. These would undoubtedly provide the impetus for the first trains and the establishment of a railway network for Britain.

The railway network would largely replace the antiquated canal network. It would ensure that goods and raw materials could be transported quickly and efficiently. As such, this gave Britain a sound base for industry.

Iron founding, was also greatly enhanced in the iron industry. Coke was applied to all aspects of iron smelting, allowing for greater output and efficiency in that area.

The other important innovation was that of cotton spinning. This would be most important to the development of the textile industry.

Raw materials required for industrial factories were also available to Britain. The British Isles had the likes of coal widely available, which was an important raw material. Britain also had iron, copper, tin, limestone, and water readily available to provide further expansion for industry.

This was enhanced by their colonial possessions, which could also provide more resources besides. Trade with the rest of the empire, would further enhance the industrial resources and capital available to Britain.

As a sea-fearing nation, the British also possessed the largest merchant fleet. This was the largest of the time with the French fleet defeated during the Napoleonic wars, and could also provide invaluable trade.

At any rate, the other factor is that competition was not really there. Their most likely rivals, the French, had been defeated in Europe and their potential industrial base eroded as a result. The Americans were still a young nation at the time, and Germany would not unite until later in the 19th century.

Machine tools were also another part of the Industrial Revolution. These were developed in the 18th century, and they enabled manufacturing machines to be made. Machines with metal frames became increasingly more common, which was largely down to machine tools.

Overall, with such factors it cannot be considered a surprise that Britain embraced industry. The spirit of entrepreneurs would undoubtedly enhance British industry, but perhaps was not a cause for the Industrial Revolution. For location, resources, and transport networks all favored Britain and their empire; which ensured a large share of manufacturing output for Britain by the mid 19th century.


Britain, Industrial Revolution, Steam Engine

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author avatar MatthewA
Matthew is the author of the book Battles of the Pacific War 1941 - 1945. You can find further details at

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