Map your history, make new connections and gain insights for family, local or special interest projects

History of British Science, Innovation and Invention

Science, Innovation and Invention. Explore the science timeline to explore the context and intriguing connections to science and invention over the last thousand years.
Drill down into recent articles to find out more about the people and ideas that shaped scientific, technological and engineering advances in Britain.

History of Science Museum Oxford.

'I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.'

Isaac Newton 1642 - 1727

Science and its study has underpinned the social and economic advancement of our cultural heritage for thousands of years. To every time there is a moment when science takes a giant step forward and life is forever altered because of it.  As myths gave way to experiment, what we now call technological advance took place. Instead of waiting for things to happen or for fate to unfurl her flag, humans started to seek rational explanations for phenomena, the beginning of the scientific method was born.

We want to place the science in context, science emerges in waves across the historic periods. Sometimes one aspect of science explodes into consciousness and inventions come tumbling out with the science, sometimes groups of like minded people happen to be in the same place at the same time and this sharing of ideas, results in a hub of new innovations and ideas.

I invented nothing new. I simply assembled the discoveries of others behind whom were centuries of work
Henry Ford

History has shown us time and time again, that scientific discovery and invention go hand in hand and that they tend to come in bundles, moving society on in great bursts of scientific thinking. The timetable of science is important because knowing when scientific ideas emerged is important. Why? Because it influences the thinking of those who follow. Sometimes great ideas and great thinkers, turn up in the 'wrong' period of history. Leonardo da Vinci and his inventions, out stripped the ability of the technology to see them to fruition, e.g his design for a helicopter.

Small ideas, big impact

It is almost impossible to for see the impact and implications a scientific discovery, idea or invention will have. Nor is it possible from our perspective, to totally understand the impact it had in that period of time because we are always looking at it from a position of advancement. Things such as standardization of screw threads,

For example a simple device with big implications, the can opener.

In the 17th century a plethora of great brains emerged and great changes in science thinking took place. The new universities, the printed word, coffee houses were full of people who were exploring a new way of thinking about science. Figures such as Francis Bacon, Newton, Wren and Hooke rejected the Medieval approach to science, instead they were using direct observation, measurement and experimentation to expand their ideas.

The need to measure spurred the manufacture of fine tools and Britain was at the heart of precision tooling manufacture in the world.

The idea of sharing information led to the setting up of new institutions, the Royal Society was formed, the Greenwich Observatory, clubs such as the Lunar Society brought together great minds.

If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants
Issac Newton

Exploration, science, innovation and invention

Exploration driven by the desire to settle and trade with new lands, demanded advances in astronomy, maths and time keeping. Being able to determine where you were on the globe led to competitions such as the Longitude Prize and so it went on. The great journeys of James Cook and the revolutionary thoughts of Charles Darwin, all pushing the frontiers of scientific knowledge.

science, innovation and invention

Voyages of Exploration. Maritime Museum Greenwich

 Medicine, science, innovation and invention

Anatomists began to apply the same principles of observation to medicine and the 'theatres' of anatomy were established. People struggled to understand how the human body worked and how disease was spread, the outbreaks of plague and cholera killing hundreds of thousands. Moves towards a modern approach to the spread of disease in the work of Lister and Florence Nightingale.

 

YearEventNarrative 
1563Invention of the stocking frame.Invention of the stocking frame Rev. William Lee, born at Woodborough near Nottingham, invents the Stocking Frame, a mechanical device for knitting stockings. This invention was very important in the early history of Industrial Revoltion but was not embraced initially for fear of it taking work away from hand knitters.This invention was very important in the early history of Industrial Revoultion but was not embraced initially for fear of it taking work away from hand knitters.
1662Royal SocietyRoyal Society founded in London
Royal Society Founded Collective of some of the findest minds of the time moves science on in leaps and bounds
Collective of some of the findest minds of the time moves science on in leaps and bounds
1690Steam pressureDenis Papin a Frenchman, uses steam pressure to move a piston Papin struggled to get his idea for a steam driven piston accepted but his ideas are used by Savery and Newcomen.Papin struggled to get his idea for a steam driven piston accepted but his ideas are used by Savery and Newcomen.
1692Languedoc canalLanguedoc Canal connects the Mediterranean with the Bay of Biscay. 240 miles long, with 100 locks, 3 major aqueducts, 1 tunnel, and a summit reservoir. The largest canal project between Roman times and the nineteenth century. Part of a project aimed to link together several sections of navigable waterways to join the Mediterranean and the Atlantic to make it quicker and more economic to transport goods. Found solutions to canal building problems that would be used going forward.Part of a project aimed to link together several sections of navigable waterways to join the Mediterranean and the Atlantic to make it quicker and more economic to transport goods. Found solutions to canal building problems that would be used going forward.
1698Miners friendMiners Friend Patented
Thomas Savery designs the Miners Friend, designed to pump water from coal mines, is patented. It will become the first practical machine powered by steam. Although it was an inefficient and problematic engine, it's patent lasted 21 years and thus played an important role in shaping the early development of steam machinery in the Britain. Newcomen was forced into partnership with Savery as a result of the patent.
Although it was an inefficient and problematic engine, it's patent lasted 21 years and thus played an important role in shaping the early development of steam machinery in the Britain. Newcomen was forced into partnership with Savery as a result of the patent.
1701Horse drawn hoeJethro Tull develops the horse-drawn hoe. Weeding has been a labourious and inefficient process, the horse drawn hoe is the first attempt at mechanising the system. Agricultural labourers are not happy with the new mechanical devices as it leads to increased rural unemployment.Weeding has been a labourious and inefficient process, the horse drawn hoe is the first attempt at mechanising the system. Agricultural labourers are not happy with the new mechanical devices as it leads to increased rural unemployment.
1702First daily newspaperBritain's first daily newspaper
The first daily newspaper is started. London's Daily Courant. Increased literacy means more people can learn about new ideas and thinking. Ideas and learning spread more quickly.
Increased literacy means more people can learn about new ideas and thinking. Ideas and learning spread more quickly.
1703Newton president of Royal SocietyIssac Newton is elected President of the Royal Society. Leads to factions but spurs scientific debate.Leads to factions but spurs scientific debate.
1704Newtons 'Optics'Issac Newton's book 'Optics' published. Major advances in physics open up new possibilitiesMajor advances in physics open up new possibilities
1707Turnpike ActTurnpike Act. Whilst there had been other Turnpike Acts, this was the first scheme that had trustees who were not justices.The basic principle was that the trustees would manage resources from the several parishes through which the highway passed, other tolls would be paid by users from outside the parishes, the money then used to maintain the highway. This then became the standard for turnpikes in Britain to improve flow of commerce through their part of a county.Whilst there had been other Turnpike Acts, this was the first scheme that had trustees who were not justices.The basic principle was that the trustees would manage resources from the several parishes through which the highway passed, other tolls would be paid by users from outside the parishes, the money then used to maintain the highway. This then became the standard for turnpikes in Britain to improve flow of commerce through their part of a county.
1708Mechanical seed sowerJethro Tull's mechanical (seed) sower permits large-scale planting in rows, for easier cultivation.
Tull's Seed Drill This invention meant seeds could be planted more efficiently and yield was improved. Further agricultural mechanisations sprung from this.
This invention meant seeds could be planted more efficiently and yield was improved. Further agricultural mechanisations sprung from this.
1709Coke used to smelt iron oreCoke used to smelt iron ore
Abraham Darby uses coke to smelt iron ore, replacing wood and charcoal as fuel. This discovery helped launch the Industrial Revolution. This was a monumental step forward in the Industrial Revolution allowing for a much more efficient process.
This was a monumental step forward in the Industrial Revolution allowing for a much more efficient process.
1710Three colour printingThree colour printing invented by Jacob Christoph Le Bon. His methods helped form the foundation for modern colour printing, creating possibilities in mapmaking and in textile weavingHis methods helped form the foundation for modern colour printing, creating possibilities in mapmaking and in textile weaving
1712Newcomen's Steam Engine>
Thomas Newcomen builds first commercially successful steam engine. Able to keep deep coal mines clear of water. First significant power source other than wind and water.
Newcomen's engine took the discovery of steam power a step forward
1712Flamsteeds Historia coelestis publishedJohn Flamsteed's first volume of his star catlogue 'Historia coelestis Britannica is publishedFlamsteed’s Atlas Coelestis is one of the “big four” star atlases to come out of Europe’s Golden Age of celestial cartography, driven by technological advances in astronomical observation and printing techniques. It contributed to advances in navigation.
1714Longitude Prize established
British Parliament passes a bill setting up a prize for £20,000 for the first person to develop a sufficiently accurate way to find longitude at sea.
The inability to determine longitude was causing serious problems. Ships and cargos were being lost.
1714Fahrenheit scale developed by Gabriel FahrenheitA standardized scale for measuring temperature was vital to scientific advances. The Fahrenheit scale was the primary temperature standard for climatic, industrial and medical purposes in English-speaking countries for 250 years.
1715First eight day clock developed by John HarrisonHarrison was working hard on the Longitude Prize and his clocks were critical parts of the process
1716Halley's Diving Bell
First diving bell developed by Edmund Halley
Capable of remaining submerged for longer periods it moved forwards, physics understanding pressure
1720First Smallpox Inoculations in Britain
Turkish practice of innoculation is brought to England by Lady Mary Wortley Montague and the first two children are innoculated.
The health of the nation had not been a priority before the C18th but the situation was changing.
1720Stock in the South Sea Company collapsesStocks in the South Sea Company were traded for 1,000 British pounds, then were reduced to nothing by the later half of 1720. Many investors were ruined, and the House of Commons ordered an inquiry and many of the company’s directors were disgraced. The scandal brought Robert Walpole, generally considered to be the first British prime minister, to power.
1730Four Year Crop Rotation IntroducedCharles Townsend introduced Four Year Crop Rotation from Holland.Four year crop rotation improves the yield and quality of crops, more food can be produced of the same land for a growing population.
1731Tulls 'Horse Hoeing Husbandry'This book allowed others to share and test Tull's inventions
1733John Kays Flying Shuttle
John Kay's invents the flying flying shuttle in Bury Lancashire.
This invention was pivotal in changing the face of how textiles were produced. It changed cottage textile production to factory based and caused deep unrest amongst workers.
1735First Marine Chronometer
Harrison builds his first marine chronometer
This allows ships to navigate with greater precision than has ever been possible, increasing trade routes and profits.
1737System for measuring Typographic Type Sizes developedThe point system for measuring type sizes is introduced by Pierre FournierThis created a standardized type size and made possible further advances in printing.
1738Caisson bridge and tunnel building system
The caisson system for building bridges and underwater tunnels is introduced Charles Dangeau de Labelye
A civil engineering breakthrough which moves bridge and tunnel development forward
1742 Crucible Process/strong>The crucible process for molten steel is introduced by Benamin HuntsmanComplete melting of the steel produced a highly uniform crystal structure upon cooling, which gave the metal increased tensile strength and hardness compared to other steels being made at the time. Production increased dramatically.
1744Invention of the Franklin Stove by Benjamin FranklinFranklin’s Stove reduced the percentage of heat wasted and reduced the amount of wood needed to fuel it.The invention served as a building block towards other more efficient domestic stoves.
1746Lead Chamber Process
The lead chamber process developed by John Roebuck for the manufacture of sulphuric acid.
A major step forward in industrial scale production of sulphuric acid it reduced the dependence on expensive saltpeter and at the same time sharply reduced nitrogen monoxide emissions. Demand for the acid rose as textile manufacturing exploded. Sulphuric acid is used in dyes and as a bleaching agent.
1748First Blast Furnace established in Bilston England by John WilkinsonIncreasing capacity of iron production.
1749Carriage Ball BearingsRadical ball bearings for carriages developed by Philip VaughnBearings played a pivotal role in the Industrial Revolution, allowing the new industrial machinery to operate efficiently with reduced friction and thus wear and also allowing for a smoother operating mechanism.
1751Calender in UK altered with January 1st becoming the begining of the yearTo align the calendar in use in England to that on the continent, the Gregorian calendar was adopted
1752Franklin's kite experiment
, showing that lightening is a form of electricity.
This discovery would lead to future experiments with electricity.
1753British Museum granted Royal CharterThe Royal Foundation Charter is granted to the British MuseumThe British Museum encourages the population to engage with science
1754First Iron Rolling MillThe first iron rolling mill is built in Hampshire by Henry Cort. This along with his balling process, allowed crude shapes standardised shapes made of wrought iron., a hugely important process that fed the Royal Navy Dockyard.A hugely important process that revolutionised ship building in the Royal Navy Dockyard.
1755Leicester Sheep bred by selective breeding methods
Robert Bakewell produced Leicester sheep by selective breeding methods.
Selective breeding in sheep improves yield of both wool and meat.
1756The first cotton velvets are made in Bolton LancashireThese new materials would create a great demand and further innovation in the textile industry.
1757Bellows driven by waterpower
Hydraulic blowing machine that uses waterpower to drive a bellows developed by John Wilkinson
Another improvement to efficiency.
1758A commission in England set standards for measures known as the Imperial StandardsCritically important to the Industrial Revolution for the ability to standardize measurements
1758The ribbing machine for the manufacture of stockings invented by Jedediah StruttWool and silk stockings can now be made by machine instead of by hand.
1758First threshing machine, hugely improving efficiency in agriculture.Greater efficiency in removing the grain should mean cheaper bread prices.
1759Marine chrononometer No 4 completed by John Harrison, this will eventually win the British Board of Longitude's prizeThis chronometer will perfect the work done by Harrison to date on solving the longitude problem
1759Concrete lighthouse built by John Smeaton with mortar that sets underwaterPioneering work that would allow Smeaton to look at other civil engineering projects dependent on waterproof cement such as docks, bridges, tunnels. A vital link in the industrial revolution.
1760Botanical Garden's Kew opened. Plants and seeds are being brought back from expeditions all over the world.The collection furthers the understanding of plant biology and provides samples for use in the area of the study of evolution.
1761James Brindley's Bridgewater Canal opens. Barges carry coal from Worsley to Manchester.Moving heavyweight goods such as coal on difficult roads was impeding the onset of industrial progress. Canals meant heavy goods and fine goods such as porcelain could be transported much more efficiently.
1763Josiah Wedgewood patents the cream coloured earthenware that becomes the standard domestic pottery of EnglandPottery production creates a demand for fine goods and the beginning of consumerism
1765James Hargreaves invents the spinning jenny, automating weaving the warp (in the weaving of cloth).Major step forward in textile manufacturing that drives textile production to new heights.
1765British board of Longitude awards the prize to John Harrison for building a chronometer accurate to 1/10th sec per dayThe Longitude problem has been solved changing the face of maritime navigation
1766The chemist, Henry Cavendish, experimented with electric charges to turn nitrogen gas into nitrate salts.His experiments had great significance for the future production of artificial fertilizer.
1766Lunar Society formed to promote the arts and sciences. Members include Matthew Boulton, James Watt, Joseph Priestley, Erasmus DarwinThe Lunar Society was another opportunity for some of the top thinkers, engineers and scientists of the day to meet and exchange ideas.
1769Arkwright's "water" (powered) frame automates the weft. It is too large and expensive to be used in a cottage. It's development is one of the key changes in Britain's Industrial Revolution.This invention is one of the most important in terms of mechanizing textile production and because of it's size, demands bigger factories to be built.
1769Josiah Wedgewood builds first pottery-making factory near Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire, England.Wedgewood adds a different element to the industrial revolution which drives other inventions
1769James Watts produces an improved steam engine that allowed steam to be converted.Critical invention on the path to an efficient steam engine
1769Bakewell produced Longhorn cattle by selective breeding.Better yields from cattle will help feed the growing population
1770Potatoes were grown for sale for the first time in England.Alternative carbohydrate food source to bread becomes available to feed a growing population.
1770James Hargeaves patents Spinning JennyInventors of the industrial revolution battle for recognition and royalties.
1771Richard Arkwright opens a water-powered mill in Cromford, England.The first step to large scale factory production of textiles.
1772Thomas Coke began his selective breeding experimentsSelective breeding allowed characteristics to be bred in and out of animals, improving yields.
1772Bridgewater Canal extended to the Mersey, thus connecting with Liverpool. Its success kicks off extensive canal construction ("canal mania").Major advance in canal engineering meant an expansion in canal building
1772Cooke's voyage to the South Pacific proves there is no large southern continent except AustraliaExploration further expands the trade routes.
1773A group of brokers establishes a stock exchange in London.Purpose built stock exchange, puts trading on a more formal footing and benefits trade and speculation in new innovative ideas.
1774Wilkinson patents a precision cannon borerThis invention gives Watts the opportunity for precision boring required to drill the pistons for his steam engines, up unitl now, Watts has struggled with inaccurately crafted cylinders.
1774Matthew Boulton and James Watt open a steam-engine factory in Birmingham, England.Extremely important factory not just in terms of what it produced bt how. The Soho Foundry stood out from other factories of the day in the sophistication of its planning, its production processes and its management techniques; practicing concepts that wouldn't become commonplace until a century later
1775Watt obtains a patent for his version of the steam engineThe steam engine saw widespread commercial use driving machinery in factories and mills, powering pumping stations and transport appliances such as railway locomotives, ships and road vehicles. Their use in agriculture led to an increase in the land available for cultivation.
1775Invention of a water turbine by Pierre GirardThe turbine adds swirl to water, an additional component of motion that allowed the turbine to be smaller than a water wheel of the same power. They could process more water by spinning faster and could harness much greater heads.
1775Wilkinson improves the cylinder boring machine to produce high tolerance cylinders for Watt's steam engines.The work of Wilkinson is a good marriage for the work of Watts and Boulton and big leaps in design can now be made.
1776American colonies of Britain declare their independenceChanged trading patterns between Britain and the colonists
1777Grand Trunk Canal establishes a cross-England route connecting the Mersey to the Trent and connecting the industrial Midlands to the ports of Bristol, Liverpool, and Hull.Trade routes opened up allowing goods to be transported more efficiently.
1778David Wilkinson US invents the turning latheThe turning lathe is an invention that will revolutionise the scope and precision of machine making tools.
1778Joseph Banks elected President of the Royal SocietyBanks was one of the most influential thinkers of the time and important in the opening up of new settlements and trade routes for Britain.
1779First steam powered mills. Crompton's "mule" combines Hargreaves' and Arkwright's machines, fully automating the weaving process.A leap forward in terms of textile manufacture.
1779The first iron bridge is built which spans the River Severn at Coalbrookdale, largely with the encouragement and backing of Wilkinson and Derby.The determination to build an iron bridge rather than wood or stone, showed the art of the possible and led to more experimentation with iron built structures.
1781James Watt invents a rotary motion device for his steam engineWatt proceeded to develop his engine further, modifying it to provide a rotary motion suitable for driving factory machinery. This enabled factories to be sited away from rivers, and further accelerated the pace of the Industrial Revolution.
1781Arkwright builds a factory using his water frame for spinning, becoming the founder of the modern factory systemThe culmination of years of invention of large scale textile machinary. The final nail in the coffin of the cottage textile industry.
1781Steam powered paddle boat tested in France an invention of Marquis de JouffroyFurther advancing applications to which steam power could be put.
1782William Herschel is appointed Astronomer RoyalAnother great thinker whose discoveries aided navigation
1782James Watt patents a double acting steam engine. Steam is admitted alternatively on both sides of the piston making the engine more efficientFurther refinements of the steam engine will bring the industrial revolution extra dynamism.
1782The pyrometer is invented by Josiah Wedgewood for checking the temperatures in pottery furnacesWedgwood realized that he needed some means of controlling the temperature in his kilns. Accordingly, he invented the pyrometer, the first tool capable of accurately measuring the very high temperatures used to fire ceramics. This invention earned him a place in the Royal Society in 1783.
1782Tull's seed drill was improved by adding gears to the rotary mechanism.Further improvements in agricultural machinary provides greater efficiency.
1783The Montgolfier brothers demonstrate the hot air balloonRevolutionary idea of seeing the world from a great height, encouraged others to think about flight.
1783Bleached fabric is possible through the introduction of Oxymuriatic AcidDemand for white fabric that can be printed on drives further design processes in textile industry.
1783Cylinder printing of fabrics developed by Thomas BellReduced printing costs and increased efficiency and choice, small block prints could be transferred quickly and effectively to materials. Improvements in the technology resulted in more elaborate roller prints in bright, rich colours.
1783The first plough making factory in England was opened.Iron ploughs are more efficient than wooden ones and mass production means more people can have access to them.
1784Water-powered threshing machine developed by Andrew MeikleThis invention shows how mechanization can make agricultural processes more efficient.
1784The puddling method of turning coke smelted iron into good wrought iron is developed by Henry CortMaking production of useful iron completely independent of the forest for the first time. His 'puddling furnace' produced molten iron that could be rolled straight away, while it was still soft, into rails for railways, pipes, or even sheet iron for shipbuilding.
1784The iron rolling mill is perfected using grooved rollers Henry Cort.Perfect for producing iron for the docks in Portsmouth.
1784Bifocal lenses invented by Benjamin FranklinBifocal lenses would become one of the most useful inventions of all times and adopted by millions of people.
1784Small developed an iron ploughIron ploughs will be stronger and more efficient than wooden ones.
1784First English balloon ascent by Vincent LunardiThe ascent encourages others to consider flight
1785Watt’s steam engine is first used to power a cotton mill.The application of the steam engine completely transforms manufacturing.
1785First balloon crossing of the English Channel by Jean Pierre Blanchard Dr J. JeffriesAdvances in balloon flight capture and inspire the publics imagination
1785Edmund Cartwright patents his water-powered loom.The water power loom will lead to the development of further power looms changing the dynamics in the textile industry.
1786Matthew Boulton develops steam-powered coin-minting machinery.Further applications of steam power
1786Arkwright puts a Watt engine in the Albion cotton mill, Blackfriars Bridge, London.Showing how the industrial revolution was an intricate period where inventions and people fed off each other.
1786Machine for making nails invented by Ezekiel ReedNails had been hand made, millions were needed and so a machine that could mechanize the task would prove invaluable.
1787Cartwright builds a power loom.The power loom led to many women replacing men as weavers in the factories.
1787First iron barge builtBuilding on the success of the iron bridge, the iron barge shows a new way forward in boat building and releases boat builders from problems sourcing an ever dwindling supply of good quality timber.
1789Thames-Severn Canal links the Thames to the Bristol Channel.Linking two great British ports and furthering trade opportunities.
1791A Manchester mill orders 400 of Edmund Cartwright’s power looms, but workers burn down the mill because they fear losing their jobs.Workers fears and dissatisfaction with the textile revolution brings great concern to politicians and shows little chance of subsiding.
1792William Murdock (James Watt's assistant) lights his home with coal gas.This will be pivotal in lighting the towns of Britain changing the working day and safety on the streets.
1793Eli Whitney develops his cotton gin (a device to clean raw cotton).After this invention, cotton becomes America's leading crop.
1793Thomas Telford begins to build his two great iron aqueducts, over the Dee and the Cierog valleys.More advances in better iron production allows the material to be used in a number of different ways.
1799Compton invented the Spinning Mule, an improvement on the Spinning JennyFurther advances in the textile industry, a range of yarn thicknesses could be spun.
1799New Combination Acts outlaw trade unions which are repealed in 1824.Increases the workers hostility to factory owners and to parliament.
1801Robert Trevithick demonstrates a steam locomotive.This demonstration will lead to one of the most pioneering inventions of all time, the railway.
1803Caledonian Ship Canal cuts clear across Scotland via the Great Glen.Another important communication route opened.
1804Trevithick runs a steam locomotive on rails in an ironworks.This invention will eventually allow goods and people to be transported quickly over large distances.
1807Richard Trevithick begins digging the Rotherhithe Tunnel.Means of crossing the River Thames are essential to the growth of London, the tunnel inspires others to make the attempt.
1807Robert Fulton's Clermont first successful steamboat.Pioneering work which will speed up communication across the seas.
1809French confectioner Nicolas Appert invents canning as a preservation methodCanning will prevent sickness from eating rotten food and save the lives of many, especially troops in the field.
1811Luddite riots: laborers attack factories and break up the machines they fear will replace them.The Luddites are very effective. The disturbances continued for another five years. The crisis was made worse by food shortages as the price of wheat increased, and by the collapse of hosiery and knitwear prices in 1815 and 1816. Various attempts were made to find a compromise, but problems remained until the middle of the nineteenth century, by which time the woollen industry had moved away from hand-production.
1815UK Corn laws established a series of statutes enacted between 1815 and 1846 which kept corn prices at a high level. This measure was intended to protect English farmers from cheap foreign imports of grain following the end of the Napoleonic Wars.The artificially high corn prices encouraged by the Corn Laws meant that the urban working class had to spend the bulk of their income on corn just to survive. Since they had no income left over for other purchases, they could not afford manufactured goods. So manufacturers suffered, and had to lay off workers. These workers had difficulty finding employment, so the economic spiral worsened for everyone involved.
1821Faraday demonstrates electro-magnetic rotation, the principle of the electric motor.This invention will become of the world's most important with applications too numerous to mention.
1823English mathematician,Charles Babbage, develops his difference engine, a mechanical computing machine.This is an astonishing invention that prepared numerical tables by a technique known as the method of diffence. These tables still used to day but electronically and stored digitally. Babbage did the same just more slowly and mechanically.
1824Patent for Portland (waterproof) cementWithout waterproof cement structures such as the London sewer system, the docks and the tunnels under the Thames would not have been possible.
1825Marc Brunel invents a tunnelling shield, making subaqueous tunnelling possible.This invention will solve many of the problems of tunneling under water.
182525-mile long Stockton & Darlington Railway built by George StephensonThe beginning of the railway age
1826Brunel builds the first subaqueous tunnel, under the Thames.Crossing the Thames has been an age old problem, Brunel's tunnel is an extraordinary achievement.
1827Berkeley Ship Canal connects Sharpness (on the Severn) to Gloucester.The canal age will soon give way to rail.
1830The Liverpool and Manchester Railway begins first regular commercial rail service.Commercial rail services are in their infancy but this line is the start of a new direction in communications.
1831Faraday discovers electro-magnetic current, making possible generators and electric engines.A pivotal moment in physics, EM current will make possible an enormous number of inventions and advances.
1834Fox Talbot produces photographs.Photography will grab the attention of the ordinary person unlike any other and become a popular part of everyday life.
1835A screw propeller is proposed and prototypes built.The propeller is used by the military who see it as a considerable advance in ship handling and robustness in the face of enemy fire.
1836The first railway in London opened from Spa Road to Deptford, which formed part of the London and Greenwich Railway.The expansion of the railway in London will have an enormous impact on the society in the capital.
1837Morse develops the telegraph and Morse Code
Communication will never be the same again, a quick and efficient method of passing messages
1837First steel plough built by John DeereA more durable plough than the iron plough
1837The Grand Junction Railway opened in July between Birmingham and Warrington. This formed part of the first mainline linking London, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool.Major cities in Britain linked by rail creating more trade opportunities across the country.
1838Slavery is abolished in the British empireThe end of the despicable trade forces merchants to look for other goods to import and export.
1838UK government People's Charter advocates social and political reformLed to Charterism, a national protest movement, with particular strongholds of support in the north of England, the east Midlands and South Wales.
1838Daguerre perfects the Daguerrotype.This invention was inspirational in developing both the art and science of photography.
1838The pioneering Great Western Railway (GWR) opened its first section from Paddington to Maidenhead in June, using a 7 foot gauge.More railway expansion across Britain opening up the west.
1838London-Birmingham railway was the first railway line into the capital city, with passengers disembarking in the newly-designed Euston station. The line precipitated the first of the great railway booms.The development of the railway moves at a tremendous speed across Britain.
1839Fox Talbot introduces photographic paper.Photgraphic paper born out of the work done by Daguerre makes photography accessible to many people.
1839Kirkpatrick Macmillan Invents the bicycleThe bicycle revolutionizes transport for the ordinary man and woman. It's impact on women's emancipation is greater than can ever be imagined.
1840Vaccination for the poor is introduced in the UKThe health of the nation will be changed forever as killer diseases such as small pox are brought under control.
1841Brunel's box tunnel between Chippenham and BathFurther civil engineering advances to complement the development of the railway.
1841Standard screw thread introducedUntil this time structures and machines were built from parts sourced from different producers using different standards resulting in engineering failures.
1842Sir John Bennet Lawes founded the first factory to manufacture superphosphate. This marked the beginning of the chemical fertilizer industryFertilizers will increase crop yields, essential to feed the worlds growing population.
1843Great Britain, the first large, iron, screw-propelled steamship.This ship will lay down a marker for express voyages across the Atlantic
1844Commercial use of Morse's telegraph (Baltimore to Washington).Telegraph revolutionizes communication
1845Elias Howe invents a sewing machineThis invention will lead to Singers mass produced sewing machine
1845Irish potato famine beginsGives rise to mass migrations to America and Canada
1846UK Corn Laws repealedThis measure removed protective duties which had helped to keep the price of bread high. Robert Peel had to resign, most of his party opposed. He is remembered as the prime minister who gave the working classes cheaper bread.
1849Monier develops reinforced concrete.Reinforced concrete allows engineers to build bigger and taller structures
1850Petrol (gasoline) refining first used.
A new fuel source whose impact will be huge and allow for the development of the combustion engine.
1851The Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace a celebration of modern industry, technology and designThe exhibition showcases British goods around the world and is a huge boost for trade.
1851Singer invents first practical sewing machine.
The sewing machine will change the way of life for thousands of women, giving them work inside and outside the home.
1853Elisha Otis invents the elevator safety brake making skyscrapers possibleVital invention for skyward living
1853An Act of Parliament in 1853 made smallpox vaccination compulsory in the UK.Leads to the eradication of smallpox from Britain.
1854Bessemer invents steel converter.This newfound process had a massive impact on the British metal industry, which was the world’s major metal producing country at that time. Steel will change every person's life.
1855The first 10-story steel-girder skyscraper is built in Chicago.A fantastic achievement that allows for greater civil engineering proects.
1856W.H. Perkin produces aniline dyes, permitting brightly colored cottons.Another stimulus to the textile industry and a further push towards consumerism.
1857Pasteur experiments with fermentation.Pasteur was one of the most important scientists in the field of biology and medicine. Based on his experiments, he associated fermentation with life which led him from studying molecular asymmetry to contagious diseases through fermentation.
1858Cathode rays discovered.Pivotal discovery leading to the discovery of the electron.
1859Charles Darwin publishes The Origin of Species
Evolution as described by Darwin turns science on it's head and creates a storm of debate
1863The open hearth process revolutionizes steel productionSiemens-Martin open hearth process (along with the Bessemer converter) makes steel available in bulk. Steel begins to replace iron in building: steel framing and reinforced concrete make possible "curtain-wall" architecture i.e., the skyscraper.
1863Worlds first Metro line, The London Underground, openedThe civil engineering methods of tunneling has created many possibilities, the underground will be around for a long time to come.
1866The Great Eastern lays a telegraph cable across the Atlantic Ocean.The telegraph made little direct impact on most people's lives. It was a 'specialist' technology, owned by companies and operated by professionals. But the indirect impact of the telegraph was huge. Things started working more quickly and efficiently, starting with the railways and quickly extending to the transport of goods and materials.
1867Alfred Nobel produces dynamite, the first high explosive which can be safely handled.Dynamite changes mining practise and warfare
1867Joseph Lister writes on antiseptics in 'The Lancet'Antiseptics will revolutionize the practise of operative medicine.
1869Suez Canal opens, linking the Mediterranean and the Red SeaNew trade routes opened.
1871Invention of pasteurization by Louis PasteurHis pasteurization process concluded that all fermentable liquid could be prevented from a spoiling with a special heating treatment. This helped prevent people from becoming ill from harmful bacteria.
1873Christopher Sholes invents the Remington typewriter.The typewriter brought convinience and productivity to people everywhere. Most important was the impact on business, companies grew and expanded in unparalled ways because of this speed writing.
1873
James Clerk Maxwell states the laws of electro-magnetic radiation
The enormity of this discovery heralded a new bastion of science. It pointed the way to the application of electromagnetic radiation for such present-day uses as radio, television, radar, microwaves and thermal imaging.
1876TelephoneBell invents the telephone. The invention of the telephone lead to development of city centers, office buildings and the concept of an urban worker society. It has lead to the creation and destruction of jobs. The need for positions such as messenger boys, telegraphers and, ironically, operators, became virtually unnecessaryThe invention of the telephone lead to development of city centers, office buildings and the concept of an urban worker society. It has lead to the creation and destruction of jobs. The need for positions such as messenger boys, telegraphers and, ironically, operators, became virtually unnecessary
1877PhonographEdison invents the phonograph. Before the invention of the phonoraph listening to music was a social event, now it could be enjoyed privately in the home, a new popular culture had been born.Before the invention of the phonoraph listening to music was a social event, now it could be enjoyed privately in the home, a new popular culture had been born.
1878MicrophoneMicrophone invented. An invention that had a fundamental effect on how sound could be shared and enjoyed leading to greater clarity in sound transmissionAn invention that had a fundamental effect on how sound could be shared and enjoyed leading to greater clarity in sound transmission
1879Incandescent lampEdison invents the incandescent lamp. The practical incandescent light bulb is one of the most transformative patented inventions of all time. Safe, effective lighting became generally affordable for widespread residential use for the first time. Business operations also changed dramatically as workers were able to work more easily at night, eventually leading to shifts that could operate around the clock.The practical incandescent light bulb is one of the most transformative patented inventions of all time. Safe, effective lighting became generally affordable for widespread residential use for the first time. Business operations also changed dramatically as workers were able to work more easily at night, eventually leading to shifts that could operate around the clock.
1879Milking machineThe first milking machine. It was a vacuum device which eliminated labour from milking a cow. Reduced the number of people needed to look after dairy cattle and allowed for a cleaner and more efficient method of milking.Reduced the number of people needed to look after dairy cattle and allowed for a cleaner and more efficient method of milking.
1884Machine gunMaxim invents the machine gun.
ImpactThe machine gun, making possible mass slaughter and beginning the mechanization of warfare.
1885Car with internal combustion engineBenz First car to run with an internal combustion engine

Benz develops first automobile to run on internal- combustion engine.ImpactThe internal combustion engine will bring untold good and harm to society.
1888Radio wavesHertz produces radio waves.
ImpactThe discovery of Radio waves will be used to lead communication developments
1895X-rays
Roentgen discovers X-rays.
ImpactA momentous event that instantly revolutionized the fields of physics and medicine. The X-ray emerged from the laboratory and into widespread use in a startlingly brief leap: within a year of Roentgen's announcement of his discovery, the application of X-rays to diagnosis and therapy was an established part of the medical profession.ImpactA momentous event that instantly revolutionized the fields of physics and medicine.
1896Wireless telegraphMarconi patents Wireless telegraph.
ImpactThis invention will lead to an explosion in communication development.
1897Atomic particlesSmall atomic particles discovered
Joseph Thomson discovers particles smaller than atoms.ImpactModern physics is born and this leads ultimately to the atomic bomb
1903First powered flightWright brothers make first powered flight. 1903
The impact of powered flight opens up the world to all who can afford it.
1908Henry Ford mass-produces the Model T Motorcar

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.