What Started the Industrial Revolution, and Why Is It Significant?

what-started-the-industrial-revolution-and-why-is-it-significant

The Industrial Revolution was a period of unprecedented advancements that helped people go from living in rural areas and having to survive only on what they could provide themselves to having access to better food, better financial opportunities, and a more urban lifestyle.

From around 1760 to 1830-40, the Revolution improved people’s lives, and life became a little faster as a result.

Let’s take a closer look at the Industrial Revolution and why it is so significant.

What Factors Led to the Industrial Revolution?

People did not get together and say, “let’s start an industrial revolution.” Many things came together and made it happen, but the most significant occurrence was the transition from hand production methods to the use of machinery.

For instance, instead of sewing a dress by hand, manufacturing companies used machines that could produce numerous dresses in the same time frame.

Of course, the machines didn’t happen overnight. But manufacturing and mass-producing products exploded during this time frame, which resulted in:

  • Increased use of steam power and water power
  • The development of numerous machines and tools
  • Processes such as iron production and chemical manufacturing
  • The rise of mechanized factory systems

While some of these advancements occurred throughout most of the 1700s, the majority of them began in the middle of the century, and one of the most important results of this is the fact that the output of products and even the creation of brand-new products was greatly increased.

Stores started popping up and allowed people to buy things that they normally had to make themselves.

And it didn’t end there…

How Did the Industrial Revolution Start? How Did It End?

The Industrial Revolution started in Great Britain, in large part because the island had the resources and the opportunities to accommodate such a revolution.

Most of the architectural and technological innovations originated in Britain for many different reasons. In fact, by the mid-18th century, Britain was the world’s leading commercial center.

At the time of the Industrial Revolution, Britain was already trading with parts of the Americas and the Caribbean, and its military was strong and capable of helping them move products to numerous other countries and continents. If you consider everything that was going on around this time, you’ll notice that the Industrial Revolution started because of two main reasons:

  • The rise of business
  • The development of trade

Historians are still debating when the exact start and end dates are for the Industrial Revolution, but by the mid-1800s, it was in full swing. Rapid industrialization was the result, but what might be considered the “end” of the Industrial Revolution was around 1830-40 when a recession occurred, and the rate of much of the earlier innovations slowed down or at least didn’t grow at the same pace.

Around 1870, the process sometimes called the second Industrial Revolution began, but it wasn’t as significant as the first one because the development of newer products slowed down while the world adjusted to what was already there.

How Did the Industrial Revolution Change People’s Lives?

With the Industrial Revolution, people’s lives were changed in both positive and negative ways. As far as the positive ways, there were numerous conveniences that most people were not used to, such as purchasing items that they previously had to make themselves and having access to food that they didn’t have to grow on their own land.

Machinery and tools meant people didn’t have to rely on their own two hands to acquire the things they needed to stay healthy and make life a little more convenient.

Mechanized cotton-spinning machines meant easier access to clothing, iron-making meant better types of transportation, and more efficient steam power meant that people could be more mobile.

The negative sides, of course, included people having to leave their homes and go to work so they could have more money, and at that time, factories were not always very safe. Women and children, as well as men, worked long hours seven days a week and were often exposed to conditions that could be dangerous and even unhealthy.

Nevertheless, the growth of industrialization was fast and prominent, and because urbanization was one of the results, people also enjoyed more extended friendships than they had in the past, which most considered a good thing.

Why Did the Industrial Revolution Start in Europe?

The Industrial Revolution started in Europe—more specifically, Great Britain—for one main reason: it had the resources to make this happen. Britain had access to lots of natural resources, in part because of its colonial empires. By the early 1800s, in fact, Britain’s global empire was huge and very impressive, especially in comparison to other countries.

As soon as their market started expanding to their empires, it naturally began to spread even further out, first to the Baltic region, then to North America, and finally to Asia. It was in Asia that Britain gained access to even more raw materials and acquired even more markets. It seemed that at this time, Britain’s growth was endless.

And because more people were able to work at paying jobs, the market continued to grow because there were now people who were not only anxious but also able to pay for these goods. By contrast, China and India had no empires of their own, so while they (in some ways) had the capability to produce and market products, they really didn’t have a place to expand their market and gain new customers.

Why Were Banks So Important for the Industrial Revolution?

Up until the Industrial Revolution began, not everyone used banks, but suddenly people were making money and no longer felt good about keeping this money in their homes. Not only did more people start using banks, but banks were also crucial in the financing, buying, and selling of the many industries that seemed to pop up on a regular basis.

In the 1770s, London established a stock exchange, followed by America’s New York Stock Exchange in the early 1790s. Never before had so much money exchanged hands on a regular basis, and the world needed financial institutions to make all of this happen. Both private wealth and business opportunities grew, and this required there to be more financing options available.

And since both private individuals and business people needed access to money, this meant that banks began to grow, and more banks began to pop up all the time. In other words, along with the growth of industrialization came the growth of banks and financial institutions so that they could keep up with the need for financing.

There is no doubt that without these banks, the Industrial Revolution would have run into snags because businesses need money to grow and thrive.

Conclusion

The Industrial Revolution started in the mid-1700s and lasted until around 1830-40, but exact dates cannot be determined. It began in Britain because Britain had the resources and the means to go far and make the most out of all of these advancements.

People’s lives changed both for the better and for the worse, but they definitely enjoyed more conveniences than they did previously.

The Industrial Revolution “ended” around the mid-1800s when a recession occurred and because fewer advancements were occurring at the time. It is a very significant event that pushed most of the globe into the 19th century with a vengeance, mostly for the better, according to most historians.