mining in Britain, particularly in South Wales started early. Before the steam engine, pits were often shallow bell pits following
a seam of coal along the surface which were abandoned as the coal was extracted. In other cases, if the geology was favourable,
the coal was mined by means of an adit driven into the side of a hill. Shaft mining was done in some areas, but the limiting
factor was the problem of removing water. It could be done by hauling buckets of water up the shaft or to a sough (a tunnel
driven into a hill to drain a mine). In either case, the water had to be discharged into a stream or ditch at a level where
it could flow away by gravity. The introduction of the steam engine greatly facilitated the removal of water and enabled shafts
to be made deeper, enabling more coal to be extracted. These were developments that had begun before the Industrial Revolution,
but the adoption of James Watt's more efficient steam engine with its separate condenser from the 1770s reduced the fuel costs
of engines, making mines more profitable.
The major change in the metal industries during the era of the Industrial Revolution was the replacement of organic
fuels based on wood with fossil fuel based on coal. Much of this happened somewhat before the Industrial Revolution, based
on innovations by Sir Clement Clerke and others from 1678, using coal reverberatory furnaces known as cupolas. These were
operated by the flames, which contained carbon monoxide, playing on the ore and reducing the oxide to metal. This has the
advantage that impurities (such as sulfur) in the coal do not migrate into the metal. This technology was applied to lead
from 1678 and to copper from 1687. It was also applied to iron foundry work in the 1690s, but in this case the reverberatory
furnace was known as an air furnace. The foundry cupola is a different (and later) innovation.
This was followed by
Abraham Darby, who made great strides using coke to fuel his blast furnaces at Coalbrookdale in 1709. However, the coke pig
iron he made was used mostly for the production of cast iron goods such as pots and kettles. He had an advantage over his
rivals in that his pots, cast by his patented process, were thinner and cheaper than those of his rivals. Coke pig iron was
hardly used to produce bar iron in forges until the mid 1750s, when his son Abraham Darby II built Horsehay and Ketley furnaces
(not far from Coalbrookdale). By then, coke pig iron was cheaper than charcoal pig iron.
Bar iron for smiths to forge
into consumer goods was still made in finery forges, as it long had been. However, new processes were adopted in the ensuing
years. The first is referred to today as potting and stamping, but this was superseded by Henry Cort's puddling process. From
1785, perhaps because the improved version of potting and stamping was about to come out of patent, a great expansion in the
output of the British iron industry began. The new processes did not depend on the use of charcoal at all and were therefore
not limited by charcoal sources.
Up to that time, British iron manufacturers had used considerable amounts of imported
iron to supplement native supplies. This came principally from Sweden from the mid 17th century and later also from Russia
from the end of the 1720s. However, from 1785, imports decreased because of the new iron making technology, and Britain became
an exporter of bar iron as well as manufactured wrought iron consumer goods.
Since iron was becoming cheaper and more
plentiful, it also became a major structural material following the building of the innovative Iron Bridge in 1778 by Abraham
An improvement was made in the production of steel, which was an expensive commodity and used only where
iron would not do, such as for the cutting edge of tools and for springs. Benjamin Huntsman developed his crucible steel technique
in the 1740s. The raw material for this was blister steel, made by the cementation process.
The supply of cheaper
iron and steel aided the development of boilers and steam engines, and eventually railways. Improvements in machine tools
allowed better working of iron and steel and further boosted the industrial growth of Britain.
The large scale production of chemicals was an important development during the
Industrial Revolution. The first of these was the production of sulfuric acid by the lead chamber process invented by the
Englishman John Roebuck (James Watt's first partner) in 1746. He was able to greatly increase the scale of the manufacture
by replacing the relatively expensive glass vessels formerly used with larger, less expensive chambers made of riveted sheets
of lead. Instead of a few pounds at a time, he was able to make a hundred pounds (45 kg) or so at a time in each of the chambers.
The production of an alkali on a large scale became an important goal as well, and Nicolas Leblanc succeeded in 1791
in introducing a method for the production of sodium carbonate. The Leblanc process was a reaction of sulfuric acid with sodium
chloride to give sodium sulfate and hydrochloric acid. The sodium sulfate was heated with limestone (calcium carbonate) and
coal to give a mixture of sodium carbonate and calcium sulfide. Adding water separated the soluble sodium carbonate from the
calcium sulfide. The process produced a large amount of pollution (the hydrochloric acid was initially vented to the air,
and calcium sulfide was a useless waste product) but proved economical over the previous method of deriving it from wood ashes,
barilla, or kelp.
These two chemicals were very important because they enabled the introduction of a host of other
inventions, replacing many small-scale operations with more cost-effective and controllable processes. Sodium carbonate had
many uses in the glass, textile, soap, and paper industries. Early uses for sulfuric acid included pickling (removing rust)
iron and steel, and for bleaching cloth.
The development of bleaching powder (calcium hypochlorite) by Scottish chemist
Charles Tennant in about 1800, based on the discoveries of French chemist Claude Louis Berthollet, revolutionized the bleaching
processes in the textile industry by dramatically reducing the time required (from months to days) for the traditional process
then in use, which required repeated exposure to the sun in bleach fields after soaking the textiles with alkali or sour milk.
Tennant's factory at St. Rollox, North Glasgow, became the largest chemical plant in the world.
The development of the stationary steam engine was an essential early element
of the Industrial Revolution; however, for most of the period of the Industrial Revolution, the majority of industries still
relied on wind and water power as well as horse and man-power for driving small machines.
The industrial use of steam
power started with Thomas Savery in 1698. He constructed and patented in London the first engine, which he called the "Miner's
Friend" since he intended it to pump water from mines. This machine used steam at 8 to 10 atmospheres (120-150 psi and did
not use a piston and cylinder but applied the steam pressure directly on to the surface of water in a cylinder to force it
along an outlet pipe. It also used condensed steam to produce a partial vacuum to suck water into the cylinder. It generated
about one horsepower (hp). It was used as a low-lift water pump in a few mines and numerous water works, but it was not a
success since it was limited in the height it could raise water and was prone to boiler explosions.
The first successful
machine was the atmospheric engine, a low performance steam engine invented by Thomas Newcomen in 1712. Newcomen apparently
conceived his machine quite independently of Savery. His engines used a piston and cylinder, and it operated with steam just
above atmospheric pressure which was used to produce a partial vacuum in the cylinder when condensed by jets of cold water.
The vacuum sucked a piston into the cylinder which moved under pressure from the atmosphere. The engine produced a succession
of power strokes which could work a pump but could not drive a rotating wheel. They were successfully put to use for pumping
out mines in Britain, with the engine on the surface working a pump at the bottom of the mine by a long connecting rod. These
were large machines, requiring a lot of capital to build, but produced about 5 hp. They were inefficient, but when located
where coal was cheap at pit heads, they were usefully employed in pumping water from mines. They opened up a great expansion
in coal mining by allowing mines to go deeper. Despite using a lot of fuel, Newcomen engines continued to be used in the coalfields
until the early decades of the nineteenth century because they were reliable and easy to maintain.
By 1729, when Newcomen
died, his engines had spread to France, Germany, Austria, Hungary and Sweden. A total of 110 are known to have been built
by 1733 when the patent expired, of which 14 were abroad. A total of 1,454 engines had been built by 1800.
was fundamentally unchanged until James Watt succeeded in making his Watt steam engine in 1769, which incorporated a series
of improvements, especially the separate steam condenser chamber. This improved engine efficiency by about a factor of five
saving 75% on coal costs. The Watt steam engine's ability to drive rotary machinery also meant it could be used to drive a
factory or mill directly. They were commercially very successful, and by 1800, the firm Boulton & Watt had constructed
496 engines, with 164 acting as pumps, 24 serving blast furnaces, and 308 to power mill machinery. Most of the engines generated
between 5 to 10 hp.
The development of machine tools, such as the lathe, planing and shaping machines powered by these
engines, enabled all the metal parts of the engines to be easily and accurately cut and in turn made it possible to build
larger and more powerful engines.
Until about 1800, the most common pattern of steam engine was the beam engine, which
was built within a stone or brick engine-house, but around that time various patterns of portable (readily removable engines,
but not on wheels) engines were developed, such as the table engine.
Richard Trevithick, a Cornish blacksmith, began
to use high pressure steam with improved boilers in 1799. This allowed engines to be compact enough to be used on mobile road
and rail locomotives and steam boats.
In the early 19th century after the expiration of Watt's patent, the steam engine
had many improvements by a host of inventors and engineers.
Model of the spinning jenny in a museum in Wuppertal, Germany. The spinning jenny was one of the innovations that
started the revolution.In the early 18th century, British textile manufacture was based on wool which was processed by individual
artisans, doing the spinning and weaving on their own premises. This system is called a cottage industry. Flax and cotton
were also used for fine materials, but the processing was difficult because of the pre-processing needed, and thus goods in
these materials made only a small proportion of the output.
Use of the spinning wheel and hand loom restricted the
production capacity of the industry, but incremental advances increased productivity to the extent that manufactured cotton
goods became the dominant British export by the early decades of the 19th century. India was displaced as the premier supplier
of cotton goods.
Lewis Paul and John Wyatt of Birmingham patented the Roller Spinning machine and the flyer-and-bobbin
system for drawing wool to a more even thickness. Paul and Wyatt opened a mill in Birmingham which used their new rolling
machine powered by a donkey. In 1743, a factory was opened in Northampton; fifty spindles turned on five of Paul and Wyatt's
machines proving more successful than their first Mill and operated until 1764. Lewis Paul also invented the hand driven carding
machine. Using two sets of rollers that travelled at different speeds, it was later used in the first cotton spinning mill.
Lewis's invention was later developed and improved by Richard Arkwright and Samuel Crompton, although this came about under
great suspicion after a fire at Daniel Bourn's factory in Leominster which specifically used Paul and Wyatt's spindles. Borne
produced a similar patent in the same year. Other inventors increased the efficiency of the individual steps of spinning (carding,
twisting and spinning, and rolling) so that the supply of yarn increased greatly, which fed a weaving industry that was advancing
with improvements to shuttles and the loom or 'frame'. The output of an individual labourer increased dramatically, with the
effect that the new machines were seen as a threat to employment, and early innovators were attacked and their inventions
To capitalize upon these advances, it took a class of entrepreneurs, of which the most famous is Richard
Arkwright. He is credited with a list of inventions, but these were actually developed by people such as Thomas Highs and
John Kay; Arkwright nurtured the inventors, patented the ideas, financed the initiatives, and protected the machines. He created
the cotton mill which brought the production processes together in a factory, and he developed the use of power &#8212;
first horse power, then water power and finally steam power &#8212; which made cotton manufacture a mechanized industry.
Over London by Rail Gustave Doré
c 1870. Shows the densely populated and polluted environments created in the new industrial cities
also led to the creation of the factory. John Lombe's water-powered silk mill at Derby was operational by 1721. In 1746, an
integrated brass mill was working at Warmley near Bristol. Raw material went in at one end, was smelted into brass and was
turned into pans, pins, wire, and other goods. Housing was provided for workers on site.
Josiah Wedgwood and Matthew
Boulton were other prominent early industrialists.
The factory system was largely responsible for the rise of the
modern city, as workers migrated into the cities in search of employment in the factories. Nowhere was this better illustrated
than the mills and associated industries of Manchester, nicknamed Cottonopolis, and arguably the world's first industrial
city. For much of the 19th century, production was done in small mills, which were typically powered by water and built to
serve local needs.
The transition to industrialisation was not wholly smooth. For example, a group of English workers
known as Luddites formed to protest against industrialisation and sometimes sabotaged factories. One of the earliest reformers
of factory conditions was Robert Owen.
Industrial Revolution could not have developed without machine tools, for they enabled manufacturing machines to be made.
They have their origins in the tools developed in the 18th century by makers of clocks and watches and scientific instrument
makers to enable them to batch-produce small mechanisms. The mechanical parts of early textile machines were sometimes called
'clock work' because of the metal spindles and gears they incorporated. The manufacture of textile machines drew craftsmen
from these trades and is the origin of the modern engineering industry.
Machines were built by various craftsmen&#8212;carpenters
made wooden framings, and smiths and turners made metal parts. A good example of how machine tools changed manufacturing took
place in Birmingham, England, in 1830. The invention of a new machine by William Joseph Gillott, William Mitchell and James
Stephen Perry allowed mass manufacture of robust, cheap steel pen nibs; the process had been laborious and expensive. Because
of the difficulty of manipulating metal and the lack of machine tools, the use of metal was kept to a minimum. Wood framing
had the disadvantage of changing dimensions with temperature and humidity, and the various joints tended to rack (work loose)
over time. As the Industrial Revolution progressed, machines with metal frames became more common, but they required machine
tools to make them economically. Before the advent of machine tools, metal was worked manually using the basic hand tools
of hammers, files, scrapers, saws and chisels. Small metal parts were readily made by this means, but for large machine parts,
production was very laborious and costly.
Apart from workshop lathes used by craftsmen, the first large machine tool
was the cylinder boring machine used for boring the large-diameter cylinders on early steam engines. The planing machine,
the slotting machine and the shaping machine were developed in the first decades of the 19th century. Although the milling
machine was invented at this time, it was not developed as a serious workshop tool until during the Second Industrial Revolution.
Military production had a hand in the development of machine tools. Henry Maudslay, who trained a school of machine
tool makers early in the 19th century, was employed at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, as a young man where he would have seen
the large horse-driven wooden machines for cannon boring made and worked by the Verbruggans. He later worked for Joseph Bramah
on the production of metal locks, and soon after he began working on his own. He was engaged to build the machinery for making
ships' pulley blocks for the Royal Navy in the Portsmouth Block Mills. These were all metal and were the first machines for
mass production and making components with a degree of interchangeability. The lessons Maudslay learned about the need for
stability and precision he adapted to the development of machine tools, and in his workshops he trained a generation of men
to build on his work, such as Richard Roberts, Joseph Clement and Joseph Whitworth.
James Fox of Derby had a healthy
export trade in machine tools for the first third of the century, as did Matthew Murray of Leeds. Roberts was a maker of high-quality
machine tools and a pioneer of the use of jigs and gauges for precision workshop measurement.