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The Industrial Revolution - Management and Unions


The Industrial Revolution (18th – 19th century)


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The transfer of production in Britain from agriculture to manufacturing that started in the mid-18th century.

The textile industry was:

  • dominant (accounting for 60% of British exports in 1800).
  • mechanized (leading to some of the world’s first factories like Richard Arkwright’s ,pictured The Industrial Revolution - Management and Unionsright in 1790, water-powered textile mill in Cromford, Derbyshire).


Why did it start in Britain?


1. Steam powerThe Industrial Revolution - Management and Unions

In 1775 the Scotsman, James Watt (pictured right), revolutionized steam engines by adding a condenser that:

  • released hot steam from the engine.
  • made it much more powerful and efficient.

Watt’s engine powered:

  • factory machinery.
  • locomotives that transformed industry and transport.



2. Transport


a) roads greatly improved

The journey from London to Edinburgh was reduced from two weeks to 2½ days in the second half of the 18th century.

 The Industrial Revolution - Management and Unions

b) canals and railways 

Their construction hugely improved transport.

In 1825 George Stephenson designed the first train (the Locomotion No. 1 , pictured right) that:

  • travelled on the world’s first railway line (from Stockton to Darlington in Northern England).
  • reached 15 mph (compared to 6 or 7 by horse).



3. Growing markets

From 1750 to 1800 British demand for consumer goods increased by 42% , largely due to the fast growing middle class of professionals and businessmen.The Industrial Revolution - Management and Unions

Overseas trade also boomed, helped by:

  • Britain’s colonial markets (like America).



4. Social mobilityThe Industrial Revolution - Management and Unions

There were fewer class barriers in Britain than anywhere else in Europe, helping poor people to become rich and successful (like the textile boss, Richard Arkwright, who was originally a barber).

There was a big interest in self-improvement.

Samuel Smiles’, pictured right, 1859 book, Self-Help, even outsold Charles Dickens!.The Industrial Revolution - Management and Unions



5. Excellent engineering

Railways (and so bridges and tunnels) were built by great engineers like:The Industrial Revolution - Management and Unions

  • Thomas Telford (pictured right below).



6. PhilosophyThe Industrial Revolution - Management and Unions

The Scottish philosopher, Adam Smith (pictured right), wrote The Wealth of Nations in 1776 that supported profit making in businesses through:

  • free trade.
  • competition (what Smith called the “invisible hand”).
  • minimal government (and so low taxes).


7. Food

British agriculture:

  • was much more efficient than anywhere else in Europe.
  • could feed people moving to the new industrial cities.



8. Invention

The number of patents (protecting new inventions) rose significantly from the mid-18th century onwards - see below.



Key British & American inventions in the Industrial Revolution


The Industrial Revolution - Management and Unions


James Hargreaves’ (pictured right) spinning jenny (which automated cloth weaving)

But some people claim that Thomas Highs invented it.



James Watt’s steam engine.

 The Industrial Revolution - Management and Unions


Michael Faraday’s (pictured right in 1842) electric motor.


The Industrial Revolution - Management and Unions


Charles Babbage’s (pictured right) first computer.


Two American inventions were also vital:



Eli Whitney’s cotton gin (that automated cotton cleaning).

 The Industrial Revolution - Management and Unions


Samuel Morse’s (pictured right) telegraph.



Why did British industry decline?


From the early 19th century onwards, Britain was overtaken industrially, particularly by America and Germany.

The 3 E’s explain why:


1. Education 

Britain didn’t educate enough people.

The best schools (particularly private schools like Eton and Harrow) were anti-business.


2. Empire 

Britain’s empire provided easy money and markets which made its industry lazy and inefficient.

 The Industrial Revolution - Management and Unions

3. Elitism

The powerful British land owning upper classes snobbishly despised the new rich businessmen (as shown in films like Chariots of Fire , pictured right).

Class barriers:

  • stopped poor people maximizing their potential.
  • led to conflict (and strikes) between employers and workers

This worker unrest was shown in films like How Green Was My Valley and Billy Elliot – see below.


Workers’ woes

The Industrial Revolution created:

  • big gaps in income and wealth between the rich and the poor The Industrial Revolution - Management and Unions
  • terrible living conditions for the poor (clearly shown in Charles Dickens’, pictured right, novels).

The poor had to live in:

  • horrible houses (with 2-4 rooms and no running water or toilet).
  • woeful workhouses (for the unemployed and destitute).

Workers’ pay and working conditions were atrocious

Children worked from the age of five.


Help for the workers


1. Trade (or labour) unions

Unions were created to protect the interests of its worker members from the mid-19th century onwards, leading to lots of strikes, particularly in the coal mines.


2. Luddites

This was the name given to workers who destroyed machinery that was destroying their jobs.

The Luddite movement started in 1811.


3. Chartism

This movement (started in 1838) wanted every man to have the vote.

At that time poor people had no vote and so no influence over government policy.

 The Industrial Revolution - Management and Unions


4. Kind employers

Some employers treated their workers well like:The Industrial Revolution - Management and Unions

  • Robert Owen (at his mill in New Lanark, Scotland) - pictured right above. 
  • Quakers (such as the chocolate makers John and George Cadbury, pictured right).


5. Co-operative societies

In 1844 the Rochdale Pioneers in Northern England set up the first co-operative stores that provided workers with:

  • a share of the profits.
  • goods at low prices.

These stores spread rapidly worldwide.


6. Pro-worker laws

The Factory Acts (starting in 1802) improved workers’ hours and working conditions.

Food prices were cut significantly by the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846 that had put a tax on cheap, imported cereal crops like wheat.


The Industrial Revolution - Management and Unions

What about mass production?

In 1798 the American Eli Whitney (pictured right) showed how guns could be mass produced using interchangeable parts.

This principle was developed by Henry Ford’s mass production of the Model T (pictured right) car in 1908, leading to:The Industrial Revolution - Management and Unions

  • much greater efficiency.
  • lower prices.



Key quotes on creativity and quality

The Industrial Revolution - Management and Unions

Everything comes from experiment.

- Josiah Wedgwood (Engish pottery manufacturer, pictured right). 


A composition for cheapness and not excellence of workmanship is the most frequent and certain cause of the rapid decay and entire destruction of arts and manufactures.

- Josiah Wedgwood (English pottery manufacturer).


Key quotes on workers and unions

Happiness is achieved by the union and co-operation of all for the benefit of each.

- Robert Owen (English mill owner).


Machinery creates wealth but destroys men.

- George Cadbury (English chocolate maker).

The Industrial Revolution - Management and Unions


Workers of the world unite!

- Karl Marx , pictured right and Friedrich Engels in The Communist Manifesto.


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