The Industrial Revolution in context

The 1800s was a time of 'Industrial Revolution'.

The main changes were:

  • by 1914, England had become a great trading nation with a worldwide empire, which covered a fifth of the globe
  • a 260 per cent growth in population
  • a change from agriculture to industry
  • a move from domestic industry to factory work
  • a move from water and wind power to steam engines
  • a revolution in transport and communications, from canals and pack horses, to railways and the telegraph

The growth of towns:

  • In 1750, only about 15 per cent of the population lived in towns. By 1900 it was 85 per cent. This meant that there were far more people around to work in new industries but also caused problems because many more people needed foods and homes. This meant that poverty was increasing.
  • By 1900, London had 4.5 million inhabitants. The biggest other towns were Glasgow with 760,000 inhabitants and Liverpool with 685,000. Manchester and Birmingham had more than half a million people each. Much of the population had moved from the South-East to the industrialised coalfield areas in the North and the Midlands.
City population of Britain in 1900: London 4.5m, Glasgow 760,000, Liverpool, 685,000, Manchester and Birmingham 500,000+. % of total population living in towns: 1750 - 15%, 1900 - 85%