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Agricultural and Industrial Revolution

Agricultural and industrial revolution as a theme of British History, use this theme, the timeline at the bottom of this page and map to explore these two tremendous and complex revolutions that changed 17th century Britain beyond all recognition. From a rural to manufacturing economy, it spurred invention and trade. 

Industrial Revolution

Matthew Boulton and Soho House

Soho House where the Lunar Society met.

The Industrial Revolution was another of those extraordinary jumps forward in the story of civilization.
Claudio Magris

Britain, in the early 18th Century, was still largely a rural economy but rapidly changing economic and social conditions were forcing the pace of profound changes. These would bring great wealth to Britain but sometimes at a significant cost to individuals and the communities that had to work with the impact day-to-day of these changes.

Agriculture, the mainstay of many peoples lives, was itself facing huge change. Enclosure  meant many families were forced to abandon land they had worked, leaving them facing famine. Population was growing very quickly and the end of the Napoleonic Wars placed many soldiers and sailors onto the street looking for work. There was not enough work and there was not enough food.

Many people turned to alternative sources of income and set themselves up in cottage industries such as spinning and weaving but the scale of such industry could only ever produce a meagre income.

Agricultural Change led to Industrial change

Whilst it would eventually bring work to many people, in it's initial stages the Industrial Revolution threatened people and their livelihoods.

Early inventions of the Industrial Revolution such as John Kay's Flying Shuttle did much to boost production even in the cottage industry but it was soon realized that the opportunity it offered to manufacturers for large scale production was immense but that was yet to come.

More inventions followed, Hargreave's Spinning Jenny, followed by Arkwright's water frame.

But the ordinary folk initially had risen to fear the Industrial Revolution and they resisted the change, breaking machines and disrupting manufacture where they could.

The pace of invention quickened.

Engineers such as James Watt and Matthew Boulton could see the potential of manufacturing and knew they had the engineering foresight to deliver the power. As Matthew Boulton said in 1776;

"I sell here Sir, what all the world desires to have, power"Matthew Boulton

Other engineers such as Telford and Brunel, designed and built canals, improved roads created tunnels and bridges and built railways.

By the end of the 19th Century, Britain was the industrial and manufacturing powerhouse of the world.

People were employed in a totally new way and therefore society changed but it took it's toll and it wasn't long before the pressures on society demanded reform in many areas of life. There was need for reform in social care through the Poor Laws, in working conditions and housing and reform in laws governing things such as child labour. The Industrial Revolution forced people to look at not just the wealth of the nation but the health of the nation.

Science and invention spilled over into other areas of life such as medicine and food production. The need and the desire of people to become better educated spurred new educational systems to develop.



1563Invention of the stocking frameRev. 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 Revoultion but was not embraced initially for fear of it taking work away from hand knitters.
1662Royal Society FoundedRoyal Society founded in LondonThe Royal Society
Collective of some of the finest minds of the time moves science on in leaps and bounds
1690First time steam pressure is used to move a pistonDenis 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.
1692Languedoc Canal builtLanguedoc 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. ogether 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 Friend PatentedThomas 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.
1700Land Enclosure acceleratesThe amount of land being enclosed in England accelerates. Enclosure had been happening for the previous 150 years but the rate of enclosure shot up forcing more people to move from rural areas into towns.
1701Horse Drawn HoeJethro Tull develops the horse-drawn hoe.Agricultural Revolution Jethro Tull
at mechanising the system. Agricultural labourers are not happy with the new mechanical devices as it leads to increased rural unemployment
Britain's first daily newspaperThe 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.
1703Newton elected President of Royal SocietyIssac Newton is elected President of the Royal Society. Leads to factions but spurs scientific debate.
1704Newtons 'Optics' publishedIssac Newton's book 'Optics' published. Major 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.
1708Tull's Seed DrillJethro Tull's mechanical (seed) sower permits large-scale planting in rows, for easier cultivation. This invention meant seeds could be planted more efficiently and yield was improved. Further agricultural mechanisations sprung from this.
1709Coke used to smelt iron oreAbraham Darby uses coke to smelt iron ore, replacing wood and charcoal as fuel. This discovery helped launch the Industrial Iron Bridge Coalbrook DaleRevolution.
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 weaving
1711South Sea Company FoundedFounded in to trade (mainly in slaves) with Spanish America, on the assumption that the War of the Spanish Succession, then drawing to a close, would end with a treaty permitting such trade.
1712Newcomen's Steam EngineThomas 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 published. Flamsteed’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 establishedBritish 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 developedFahrenheit scale developed by Gabriel Fahrenheit. A 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 clockFirst eight day clock developed by John Harrison. Harrison was working hard on the Longitude Prize and his clocks were critical parts of the process
1716Halley's Diving BellFirst diving bell developed by Edmund Halley. Capable of remaining submerged for longer periods it moved forwards, physics understanding pressure
1720First Smallpox Inoculations in BritainTurkish 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.
1720South Sea Company collapsesStock in the South Sea Company collapsed. Stocks 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 improved the yield and quality of crops, more food could be produced from the same land for a growing population.
1731Tulls 'Horse Hoeing Husbandry'Tull published his book "Horse Hoeing Husbandry" (Revised in 1733). This book allowed others to share and test Tull's inventions
1733John Kays Flying ShuttleJohn Kay's invents the flying flying shuttle inFlying shuttle – What is it? 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 ChronometerHarrison built his first marine chronometer. This allowed ships to navigate with greater precision than has ever been possible, increasing trade routes and profits.
1737System for measuring type sizesThe point system for measuring type sizes is introduced by Pierre Fournier. This created a standardized type size and made possible further advances in printing.
1738Caisson bridge and tunnel building systemThe caisson system for building bridges and underwater tunnels was introduced Charles Dangeau de Labelye. A civil engineering breakthrough which moved bridge and tunnel development forward.
1742Crucible ProcessThe crucible process for molten steel is introduced by Benamin . Complete 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.
1744Franklin StoveInvention of the Franklin Stove by Benjamin Franklin. Franklin’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 ProcessThe 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 FurnaceFirst blast furnace established in Bilston England by John WilkinsonJohn Wilkinson Ironmaster
Increasing capacity of iron production.
1749Carriage Ball BearingsRadical ball bearings for carriages developed by Philip Vaughn. Bearings 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.
1751Change in UK CalenderCalender in UK altered with January 1st becoming the beginning of the year. To align the calendar in use in England to that on the continent, the Gregorian calendar was adopted
1752Franklins Kite ExperimentFranklin's kite experiment, showing that lightening is a form of electricity. This discovery would lead to future experiments with electricity.
1753Charter granted to British MuseumThe Royal Foundation Charter was granted to the British Museum. The British Museum encouraged 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 revolutionised ship building in the Royal Navy Dockyard.
1755Leicester Sheep bredRobert Bakewell produced Leicester sheep by selective breeding methods. Selective breeding in sheep improves yield of both wool and meat.
1756Cotton velvet produced in LancashireThe first cotton velvets were made in Bolton Lancashire. These new materials would create a great demand and further innovation in the textile industry.
1757Bellows driven by waterpowerHydraulic blowing machine that uses waterpower to drive a bellows developed by John Wilkinson. Another improvement to efficiency.
1758Imperial Standards introducedA commission in England set standards for measures known as the Imperial Standards. Critically important to the Industrial Revolution for the ability to standardize measurements
1758Ribbing MachineThe ribbing machine for the manufacture of stockings invented by Jedediah Strutt. Wool and silk stockings could now be made by machine instead of by hand.
1758First Threshing MachineFirst threshing machine, hugely improving efficiency in agriculture. Greater efficiency in removing the grain from the chaff should mean cheaper bread prices.
1759Marine Chronometer No 4 builtMarine chrononometer No 4 completed by John Harrison, this will eventually win the British Board of Longitude's prize. This chronometer will perfect the work done by Harrison to date on solving the longitude problem
1759First Concrete lighthouse builtConcrete lighthouse built by John Smeaton with mortar that sets underwater. Pioneering 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.
1760Kew Gardens openedBotanical 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.
1761Bridgewater Canal openedJames 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.
1763Wedgewood Creamware patentedJosiah Wedgewood patented the cream coloured earthenware that becomes the standard domestic pottery of England. Pottery production created a demand for fine goods and the beginning of consumerism.
1765Spinning Jenny InventedJames Hargreaves invents the spinning jenny, automating weaving the warp (in the weaving of cloth).Spinning Jenny Industrial Revolution?
Major step forward in textile manufacturing that drives textile production to new heights.
1765British Longitude Prize AwardedBritish board of Longitude awards the prize to John Harrison for building a chronometer accurate to 1/10th sec per day. The Longitude problem has been solved changing the face of maritime navigation
1766Nitrate Salts producedThe 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 FormedLunar Society formed to promote the arts and sciences. Members include Matthew Boulton, James Watt, Joseph Priestley, Erasmus DarwinThe Lunar Society bringing together brilliant minds
The Lunar Society was another opportunity for some of the top thinkers, engineers and scientists of the day to meet and exchange ideas.
1769Water Frame InventedArkwright'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.
1769First pottery factoryJosiah 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
1769Improvements to steam engineJames Watts produces an improved steam engine that allowed steam to be converted. Critical invention on the path to an efficient steam engine.
1769Longhorn cattle bredBakewell produced Longhorn cattle by selective breeding. Better yields from cattle will help feed the growing population
1770First large scale potato productionPotatoes were grown for sale for the first time in England. Alternative carbohydrate food source to bread becomes available to feed a growing population.
1770Spinning Jenny patentedJames Hargeaves patents Spinning Jenny. Inventors of the industrial revolution battle for recognition and royalties.
1771Water Powered Mill OpenedRichard Arkwright opens a water-powered mill in Cromford, England. The first step to large scale factory production of textiles.
1772Cokes Selective Breeding ExperimentsThomas Coke began his selective breeding experiments. Selective breeding allowed characteristics to be bred in and out of animals, improving yields.
1772Bridgewater Canal ExtendedBridgewater Canal extended to the Mersey, thus connecting with Liverpool. Its success kicks off extensive canal construction ("canal mania").
1772Cook's Voyage to South PacificCooke's voyage to the South Pacific proves there is no large southern continent except Australia. Further exploration expands the trade routes.
1773Stock Exchange OpensA 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.
1774Patent for canon borerWilkinson patents a precision cannon borer
This 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.
1774Boulton and Watt Factory OpenedMatthew 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
1774Joseph Priestley discovers oxygenJoseph Priestley is remembered for his discovery of oxygen but he was one of the leading thinkers of his day and a member of the LJoseph Priestleyunar Society.
1775Watts Patent for Steam EngineWatt obtains a patent for his version of the steam engineJames Watt Industrial Revolution
The 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 Water TurbineInvention of a water turbine by Pierre Girard. The 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.
1775High Tolerance CylindersWilkinson 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 Independence DeclaredAmerican colonies of Britain declare their independence. Changed trading patterns between Britain and the colonists
1777Grand Trunk Canal Grand 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.
1778Turning lathe David Wilkinson US invents the turning lathe. The turning lathe is an invention that will revolutionise the scope and precision of machine making tools.
1778Joseph Banks elected President of the Royal SocietyJoseph Banks elected President of the Royal SocietyThe Remarkable Influence of Sir Joseph Banks
Banks 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.First steam powered mills. Crompton's "mule" combines Hargreaves' and Arkwright's machines, fully automating the weaving process.What was the spinning mule?
A leap forward in terms of textile manufacture.
1779The first iron bridge is builtThe first iron bridge is built which spans the River Severn at Coalbrookdale, largely with the encouragement and backing of Wilkinson and Darby.Iron Bridge Coalbrook Dale
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.
1781Watts invents rotary motion device for his steam engine.James Watt invents a rotary motion device for his steam engine. Watt 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 built a factoryArkwright builds a factory using his water frame for spinning, becoming the founder of the modern factory system. The culmination of years of invention of large scale textile machinary. The final nail in the coffin of the cottage textile industry.
1781Steam powered paddle boatSteam powered paddle boat tested in France an invention of Marquis de Jouffroy. Further advancing applications to which steam power could be put.
1782Herschel appointed Astronomer RoyalWilliam Herschel is appointed Astronomer Royal. Another great thinker whose discoveries aided navigation
1782Double acting steam engineJames Watt patents a double acting steam engine. Steam is admitted alternatively on both sides of the piston making the engine more efficient. Further refinements of the steam engine will bring the industrial revolution extra dynamism.
1782Pyrometer inventedThe pyrometer is invented by Josiah Wedgewood for checking the temperatures in pottery furnaces. Wedgwood 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 improved Tull's seed drill was improved by adding gears to the rotary mechanism. Further improvements in agricultural machinery provides greater efficiency.
1783Hot Air Balloon The Montgolfier brothers demonstrate the hot air balloon. Revolutionary idea of seeing the world from a great height, encouraged others to think about flight.
1783Bleached fabric Bleached fabric is possible through the introduction of Oxymuriatic Acid. Demand for white fabric that can be printed on drives further design processes in textile industry.
1783Cylinder printing Cylinder printing of fabrics developed by Thomas Bell. Reduced 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.
1783First Plough Making Factory in EnglandThe 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 Water-powered threshing machine developed by Andrew Meikle. This invention shows how mechanization can make agricultural processes more efficient.
1784The puddling methodThe puddling method of turning coke smelted iron into good wrought iron is developed by Henry Cort. Making 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.
1784Corts Iron Rolling Mill The iron rolling mill is perfected using grooved rollers Henry Cort. Perfect for producing iron for the docks in Portsmouth.
1784Bifocal Lenses Bifocal lenses invented by Benjamin Franklin. Bifocal lenses would become one of the most useful inventions of all times and adopted by millions of people.
1784Iron plough developedSmall developed an iron plough. Iron ploughs will be stronger and more efficient than wooden ones.
1784First English balloon ascent First English balloon ascent by Vincent Lunardi. The ascent encourages others to consider flight
1785Watts steam engine powers cotton millWatt’s steam engine is first used to power a cotton mill. The application of the steam engine completely transforms manufacturing.
1785First Balloon Crossing of Channel First balloon crossing of the English Channel by Jean Pierre Blanchard Dr J. Jeffries. Advances in balloon flight capture and inspire the publics imagination
1785Water Powered Loom Edmund 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.
1786Steam powered coin minting machine Matthew Boulton develops steam-powered coin-minting machinery.
1786Arkwright uses a Watt engine in a cotton mill.Arkwright 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.
1786Nail making machine invented. Machine for making nails invented by Ezekiel Reed. Nails had been hand made, millions were needed and so a machine that could mechanize the task would prove invaluable.
1787First Power Loom BuiltCartwright builds a power loom. The power loom led to many women replacing men as weavers in the factories.
1787First iron barge builtFirst iron barge built. Building 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.
1789Canal links Thames to the Bristol ChannelThames-Severn Canal links the Thames to the Bristol Channel. Linking two great British ports and furthering trade opportunities.
1791Workers burn down Manchester millA 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.
1792Coal gas used in domestic homeWilliam 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.
1793Cotton Gin InventedEli Whitney develops his cotton gin (a device to clean raw cotton). After this invention, cotton becomes America's leading crop.
1793Telford Begins Iron AquaductsThomas 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.
1799Spinning Mule InventedCompton invented the Spinning Mule, an improvement on the Spinning JennyWhat was the spinning mule?
Further advances in the textile industry, a range of yarn thicknesses could be spun.
1799Combination ActsNew Combination Acts outlaw trade unions which are repealed in 1824. Increases the workers hostility to factory owners and to parliament.
1801Steam Locomotive DemonstrationRobert Trevithick demonstrates a steam locomotive. This demonstration will lead to one of the most pioneering inventions of all time, the railway.
1803Caledonian Ship Canal opensCaledonian Ship Canal cuts clear across Scotland via the Great Glen.
1804First Steam Locomotive run on railsTrevithick runs a steam locomotive on rails in an ironworks. This invention will eventually allow goods and people to be transported quickly over large distances.
1807Rotherhithe Tunnel StartedRichard 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.
1807First Successful SteamboatRobert Fulton's Clermont first successful steamboat. Pioneering work which will speed up communication across the seas.
1809Canning Preservation Method InventedFrench confectioner Nicolas Appert invents canning as a preservation method. Canning will prevent sickness from eating rotten food and save the lives of many, especially troops in the field.
1811Luddite RiotsLuddite 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 LawsUK 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.
1821Principle of the electric motor demonstratedFaraday 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.
1823First mechanical computing machineEnglish 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 waterproof cementPatent for Portland (waterproof) cement1824 Patent for Portland cement
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.
1825Brunel's Tunneling ShieldMarc Brunel invents a tunnelling shield, making subaqueous tunnelling possible. This invention will solve many of the problems of tunneling under water.
1825Stockton Darlington Railway25-mile long Stockton & Darlington Railway built by George Stephenson
1826First Tunnel Under ThamesBrunel 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 CanalBerkeley Ship Canal connects Sharpness (on the Severn) to Gloucester. The canal age will soon give way to rail.
1830Liverpool and Manchester first commercial railwayThe 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.
1831Electro Magnetic Current DiscoveredFaraday discovers electro-magnetic current, making possible generators1833 Michael Faraday introduces laws of electrolysis and electric engines. A pivotal moment in physics, EM current will make possible an enormous number of inventions and advances.
1834Experiments on photographyFox Talbot produces photographs. Photography will grab the attention of the ordinary person unlike any other and become a popular part of everyday life.
1835Propeller InventedA 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.
1836First Railway in London openedThe 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 Code inventedMorse develops the telegraph and Morse Code
Samuel Morse Artist & Inventor April 27th 1791
Communication will never be the same again, a quick and efficient method of passing messages
1837First Steam Plough InventedFirst steel plough built by John Deere more durable than the iron plough.
1837Grand Junction Railway openedThe 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 abolished in British EmpireSlavery is abolished in the British empire. The end of the despicable trade forces merchants to look for other goods to import and export.
1838People's CharterUK government People's Charter advocates social and political reform. Led to Charterism, a national protest movement, with particular strongholds of support in the north of England, the east Midlands and South Wales.
1838Daguerrotype InventedDaguerre perfects the Daguerrotype. This invention was inspirational in developing both the art and science of photography.
1838First section of the GWR openedThe pioneering Great Western Railway (GWR) opened its first section from Paddington to Maidenhead in June, using a 7 foot gauge.
1838London to Birmingham railwayLondon-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.
1839Photographic paper introducedFox Talbot introduces photographic paper. Photgraphic paper born out of the work done by Daguerre makes photography accessible to many people.
1839Invention of the bicycleKirkpatrick Macmillan Invents the bicycle. The bicycle revolutionizes transport for the ordinary man and woman. It's impact on women's emancipation is greater than can ever be imagined.
1840Vaccination introducedVaccination for the poor is introduced in the UK. The health of the nation will be changed forever as killer diseases such as small pox are brought under control.
1841Brunel's box tunnelBrunel's box tunnel between Chippenham and Bath. Further civil engineering advances to complement the development of the railway.
1841Standard Screw Thread IntroducedStandard screw thread introduced.Until this time structures and machines were built from parts sourced from different producers using different standards resulting in engineering failures.
1842First factory to manufacture superphosphateSir John Bennet Lawes founded the first factory to manufacture superphosphate. This marked the beginning of the chemical fertilizer industry. Fertilizers will increase crop yields, essential to feed the worlds growing population.
1843Steamship Great Britain launchedGreat Britain, the first large, iron, screw-propelled steamship. This ship will lay down a marker for express voyages across the Atlantic
1844Morse's code used commerciallyCommercial use of Morse's telegraph (Baltimore to Washington).
1845Sewing Machine InventedElias Howe invents a sewing machine. This invention will lead to Singers mass produced sewing machine and change the lives of hundreds of thousands of women.
1845Irish potato famine beginsIrish potato famine begins. Gives rise to mass migrations to America and Canada
1846UK Corn Laws repealedUK Corn Laws repealedRepeal of the Corn Laws 1846
This 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.
1849Reinforced concrete inventedMonier develops reinforced concrete. Reinforced concrete allows engineers to build bigger and taller structures
1850Petrol refining first usedPetrol (gasoline) refining first used. A new fuel source whose impact will be huge and allow for the development of the combustion engine.
1851The Great ExhibitionThe Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace a celebration of modern industry, technology and design. The exhibition showcases British goods around the world and is a huge boost for trade.
1851First practical sewing machineSinger 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.
1853Elevator safety brake inventedElisha Otis invents the elevator safety brake making skyscrapers possible. Vital invention for skyward living
1853Smallpox Vaccination CompulsoryAn Act of Parliament in 1853 made smallpox vaccination compulsory in the UK. Leads to the eradication of smallpox from Britain.
1854Steel Converter InventedBessemer 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.
1855First Skyscraper builtThe first 10-story steel-girder skyscraper is built in Chicago. A fantastic achievement that allows for greater civil engineering projects.
1856Aniline Dyes IntroducedW.H. Perkin produces aniline dyes, permitting brightly colored cottons. Another stimulus to the textile industry and a further push towards consumerism.
1857Pasteur experiments with fermentationPasteur 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 DiscoveredCathode rays discovered. Pivotal discovery leading to the discovery of the electron.
1859The Origin of Species PublishedCharles Darwin publishes The Origin of Species. Evolution as described by Darwin turns science on it's head and creates a storm of debate
1863Open hearth process in steel industryThe open hearth process revolutionizes steel production. Siemens-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.
1863London Metro OpenedWorlds first Metro line, The London Underground, opened. The civil engineering methods of tunneling has created many possibilities, the underground will be around for a long time to come.
1866Telegraph cable laid under Atlantic OceanThe 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.
1867Dynamite producedAlfred Nobel produces dynamite, the first high explosive which can be safely handled. Dynamite changes mining practise and warfare
1867Lister Introduces AntisepticsJoseph Lister writes on antiseptics in 'The Lancet'. Antiseptics will revolutionize the practice of operative medicine.
1869Suez Canal openedSuez Canal opens, linking the Mediterranean and the Red Sea
1871Invention of pasteurizationInvention of pasteurization by Louis Pasteur. His 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.
1873Remington typewriter inventedChristopher Sholes invents the Remington typewriter. The typewriter brought convenience and productivity to people everywhere. Most important was the impact on business, companies grew and expanded in unparalleled ways
1873Laws of electro-magnetic
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.
1876Telephone inventedBell 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 unnecessary
1877Phonograph InventedEdison 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.
1878Microphone InventedMicrophone invented. An invention that had a fundamental effect on how sound could be shared and enjoyed leading to greater clarity in sound transmission
1879Incandescent Lamp InventedEdison 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.
1879First milking machine inventedThe 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.
1884Machine Gun InventedMaxim invents the machine gun. The machine gun, making possible mass slaughter and beginning the mechanization of warfare.
1885First car to run with an internal combustion engineBenz develops first automobile to run on internal- combustion engine. The internal combustion engine will bring untold good and harm to society.
1888Radio waves producedHertz produces radio waves. The discovery of Radio waves will be used to lead communication developments
1895X - Rays discovered
Roentgen discovers X-rays. A 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.
1896Wireless telegraph patentedMarconi patents wireless telegraph. This invention will lead to an explosion in communication development.
1897Small atomic particles discoveredJoseph Thomson discovers particles smaller than atoms. Modern physics is born and this leads ultimately to the atomic bomb
1903First powered flightWright brothers make first powered flight. The impact of powered flight opens up the world to all who can afford it.
1908Ford mass produces an automobileHenry Ford mass-produces the Model T. The impact of the car on world society is as we know, enormous.

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