The Industrial Revolution changed every part of live in Britain. However, it was not all good, as the machine production conditions caused suffering. However, the rapid industrialization brought jobs. Another downside was that working conditions were unhealthy, water and air were polluted, and there was child labor. This lead to more class tensions between the working and middle classes.

  • Industrialization Changes Life

    The speed of industrialization keep accelerating. Starting from the 1800s, people could get higher wages in factories than farms. More people moved and began to purchase heating for their homes. They could also dine on Scottish beef. The got better clothes from power looms in England’s cities. Cities swell with job seekers.

    • Industrial Cities Rise
      • Most Europeans had lived in rural areas. However, many people migrated toward cities, as a result of the factory system. The manufacturing process was concentrated, attracting workers. Many urban areas doubled or even quadrupled. This urbanization period was city building and movement of people.
      • These factories were constructed together in groups as they needed water and coal to run. These industrial centers grew in coal-rich areas such as Wales and the Clyde River in Scotland. However, the largest such area appeared in England.
      • Britain’s capital, London, was the most important city with a population of around 1 million in 1800. Its population exploded, providing a huge pool of labor and a market for the industry. London was Europe’s largest city, with twice as many people as Paris. Newer cities challenged its leadership. Birmingham and Sheffield were iron-smelting centers, Leeds and Manchester dominated textile manufacturing. Manchester’s portside location made it the center of the cotton industry. The Manchester had rapid growth from 45000 in 1760 to 300000 in 1850.
    • Living Conditions
      • The rapid growth of cities led to a lack of planning. The buildings were unsanitary and unsafe. Also, they lacked adequate housing, education, and police for the cities coming in from the countryside. The streets had no drains, garbage was on the street, and workers live in dark dirty shelters. Sickness spread rapidly and epidemics of cholera swept through the slums. In 1842, the average lifespan in a city was 17 years for the working class people, in comparison to 38 in a rural area.
      • Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton (1848) accurately portrays the urban life experienced at the time. However, not everyone was miserable. Rich merchants and factory owners had luxurious homes in suburbs.
    • Working Condition
      • The factory owners wanted to increase production. They did this by forcing workers to work 14 hours a day, 6 days a week. The work was continuous throughout the year, unlike the farm.
      • Industry was also dangerous for workers. Badly lit factories combined with hazardous machinery often injured workers. A boiler could explode, a drive belt could catch an arm. If injured, no one would provide aid. The worst conditions were in the coal mines. The frequent accidents, moist conditions, and coal dust made the miner life span 10 years shorter than other industry workers. Many women and children were used in the mining industry as they are the cheapest.
  • Class Tensions Grow

    Even though poverty persisted in the working classes, the Industrial Revolution created huge wealth in the nation. Most of this money was to the factory owners, shippers, and merchants. They were part of a growing middle class, made up of skilled workers, professionals, businesspeople, and wealthy farmers.

    • The Middle Class
      • This new class changed the structure of Britain. Now, some factory owners, merchants, and bankers became wealthier than the landowners and aristocrats. However, the landowners still looked down at the “vulgar” business world. Only in the 1800s were the entrepreneurs considered equals.
      • The larger middle class emerged slowly. The upper class was government employees, doctors, lawyers, managers, mines, and shops. The lower middle class was skilled workers and factory overseers. They had a comfortable living.
    • The Working Class
      • The laborers saw no improvement. Their jobs were being replaced by machines. They were so frustrated that some destroyed the machines built that were putting them out of work.
      • One such group was the Luddites. Named after Ned Ludd, a worker, the Luddites attacked factories in England, destroying machinery. Other workers rioted because of living and working conditions.
  • Positive Effects of the Industrial Revolution

    Despite the issues, the Industrial Revolution had many positive effects. It created jobs, contributed to the wealth of the nation, fostered innovations, increased production of goods, and raised living standards. Finally, it gave people hope to improve.

    The Industrial Revolution also produced healthier diets, better housing, and cheaper clothing. The demand for engineers and professionals also expanded educational opportunities. The middle and upper classes prospered greatly. It took workers longer but their lives also improved as they won higher wages, shorter hours, and better conditions after joining into labor unions.

    • Long-Term Effects
      • Long term effects include the cheap consumer goods, improved living and working conditions, and better economies.
      • These successes were obvious in Manchester in the 1800s.
  • Case Study: Manchester
    • Manchester was a unique town as it had advantages such as access to water, supply of labor, and access to an outlet at sea (Liverpool)
    • This industrial giant was wealthy, however, the unplanned Industrial Revolution made it unhealthy. The business owners were proud of their successes.
    • The workers had to work in terrible conditions, with children as young as six joining the workforce.
    • The owners would beat children to keep children awake. These children repaired threads, etc. The dangerous machines injured many.
    • The first Factory Act passed in 1819 and restricted working age and hours. However, young children still did heavy work in Manchester’s factories.
    • The industry polluted nature, as coal, dies and other wastes poisoned the air and water.