The Industrial Revolution Class 11 Notes

Meaning of Industrial Revolution

A major change in industries by which goods produced in houses by hands were replaced by those in factories with the help of machines.


 Works of Arnold Toynbee: Lectures on the Industrial Revolution in England: Popular Addresses, Notes and Other Fragments.
 Works of historians T S Ashton,Paul Mantoux and Eric Hobsbawm

First Industrial Revolution

The transformation that occurred in the industrial and economic sectors in Britain during 1780s and 1850s is called as the ‘first industrial revolution’. The initial focus of first industrial revolution was on textiles. The consequences of this revolution changed permanently the human labour, consumption, family structures and social structure.

The term ‘Industrial Revolution’

Georges Michelet in France and Frederic Engels in Germany were the scholars who used the term ‘Industrial Revolution’ for the first time. Arnold Toynbee, an English economist used it first time in English, when he was
giving lectures at Oxford University.

Causes of Industrial Revolution

i) Economic – There was remarkable economic growth from the 1780s to 1820 in the cotton and iron industries, in coal mining, in the building of roads and canals and in foreign trade.

(ii) Political – The series of incidents occurred in British industrial development between 1760 and 1820. These dates coincided with those of the reign of George III.

Factors that led to Industrial Revolution in Britain.

  • Britain was the first industrialized nation, because of its political stability from the 17th century onwards and unification of Wales and Scotland with England under monarchy.
  • This stability paved the way for the common law, a single monetary system and currency with a single market. All theseenabled authorities to impose proper taxes on goods that passed through these unified regions
  • By the end of the 17th century, the prices of goods increased and money became the medium of exchange.
  • People got choice of spending money as well as expansion of their market for the sale of goods.
  • England witnessed a major economic change known as ‘agricultural revolution’ in the 18th century.
  •  This was the process of enclosure in which bigger landlords bought up small farms near their properties and enclosed the village common lands.
  • Large estates were created and resulted in the increase in the food production.
  • Landless farmers and those who lived by grazing animals on the common lands were forced to search for jobs somewhere else. Most of them shifted to nearby towns.

Towns, Trade and Finance

Emergence of London

  • The 18th century England witnessed the growth of many towns and population.
  • Out of 19 European cities, whose population doubled between 1750 and 1800, 11 cities were in Britain.
  • London was the largest city in England and was the hub of markets as well. London was a significant city for global trade.
  • By 18th century global trade shifted from Mediterranean ports of Italy and France to the Atlantic ports of Holland and Britain.
  • London became the place for international trade by replacing Amsterdam.
  • London also became a centre of a triangular trade between England, Africa and the West Indies.


  •  In England the movement of goods between markets was helped by a good network of rivers, and an indented coastline with sheltered bays.
  • all the navigable sections of English rivers flow into the sea, cargo on river vessels was easily transferred to coastal ships called coasters.


  • The Bank of England was founded in 1694.
  • By 1784, there were more than a hundred provincial banks in England, and during the next
  • By the 1820s, there were more than 600 banks in the provinces, and over 100 banks in London alone.
  • The financial requirements to establish and maintain big industrial enterprises were met by these banks.

Occurrence of industrialization  and changes brought by them

  • The industrialisation that occurred in Britain from the 1780s to the 1850s
  • many poor people from the villages available to work in towns
  • banks which could loan money to set up large industries
  • a good transport network.

Factors that led to the change in the development 

  • a range of technological changes that increased production levels dramatically
  • a new transport network created by the construction of railways

 Coal And Iron

  • England was fortunate in that coal and iron ore, the staple materials for mechanisation, were plentifully available
  • Iron is drawn out from ore as pure liquid metal by a process called smelting
  • charcoal was used for the smelting process.


  • charcoal was too fragile to transport across long distances
  • its impurities produced poor-quality iron
  • it was in short supply because forests had been destroyed for timber
  • it could not generate high temperatures.

Invention of Blast Furnace

  • three generations of this family – grandfather, father and son, all called Abraham Darby – brought about a revolution in the metallurgical industry

Invention of First Darby

  • invention in 1709 by the first Abraham Darby (1677-1717).
  • This was a blast furnace that would use coke, which could generate high temperatures; coke was derived from coal by removing the sulfur and impurities.
  • This invention meant that furnaces no longer had to depend on charcoal.
  • The melted iron that emerged from these furnaces permitted finer and larger castings than before.

Invention of second Darby

  • The second Darby developed wrought-iron from pig-iron.
  • Henry Cort designed the puddling furnace and the rolling mill, which used steam power to roll purified iron into bars.
  • It now became possible to produce a broader range of iron products.
  • The durability of iron made it a better material than wood
  • Wood, could burn or splinter, the physical and chemical properties of iron could be controlled.
  •  John Wilkinson  made the first iron chairs, vats for breweries and distilleries, and iron pipes of all sizes.

Invention of Third Darby

  • In 1779, the third Darby builtthe first iron bridge in the world, in Coalbrookdale, spanning the river Severn*.
  • Wilkinson used cast iron for the first time to make water pipes

industry concentrated in specific regions

  • The iron industry then came to be concentrated in specific regions as integrated units of coal mining and iron smelting.
  • Britain was lucky in possessing excellent coking coal and high-grade iron ore in the same basins or even the same seams.
  • These basins were also close to ports; there were five coastal coalfields which could deliver their products almost straight into ships.
  • The coalfields were near the coast, shipbuilding increased, as did the shipping trade.
  • The British iron industry quadrupled its output between 1800 and 1830, and its product was the cheapest in Europe.
  • Britain was smelting more iron than the rest of the world put together.

Results of the use of Blast Furnace

  •  Due to the use of blast furnaces, the British iron industry quadrupled its output between 1800 and 1830, and its product were the cheapest to be available in Europe.
  •  In 1820, a ton of pig iron needed8 tons of coal to make it, but by 1850 it could be produced by using only 2 tons.
  • By 1848, Britain was smelting more iron than other countries in the world.

Cotton Spinning and Weaving 

  • The British had always woven cloth out of wool and flax
  • The seventeenth century, the country had been importing bales of cotton cloth from India
  • East India Company’s political control of parts of India was established, it began to import, along with cloth, raw cotton, which could be spun and woven into cloth in England.
  • Spinning had been so slow and laborious that 10 spinners were required to supply sufficient yarn to keep a single weaver busy.
  • spinners were occupied all day
  • technological inventions successfully closed the gap between the speed in spinning raw cotton into yarn or thread, and of weaving the yarn into fabric.
  • 1780s, the cotton industry symbolised British industrialisation
  • Raw cotton was imported and a large part of thefinished cloth was exported.
  • Britain could retain control over the sources of raw cotton as well as the markets
  • The industry was heavily dependent on the work of women and children in factories.
  • This exemplified the ugly face of early industrialisation,

Steam Power

  • During the industrial revolution, the realization that steam could generate tremendous power was important for large scale industrialization.
  • Water had been an important source of energy for centuries but its use was determined by area, season and
    the flow of water.
  • It was realized that steam power was the only source of energy that was reliable and inexpensive enough to
    manufacture machinery itself.
  • Invention of steam power and its improvement boosted the industrialization.
  • Steam power was first used in mining industries.
  • Thomas Savery (1650-1715) built a model steam engine called the Miner’s Friend in 1698, whose purpose was to drain the water that entered into the coalmines.
  • Thomas Newcomen (1663-1729) built another steam engine in 1712.This had the major defect of losing energy due to continuous cooling of condensing cylinder.
  • James Watt (1736-1819) built a final and perfect steam engine whose significance was that it converted steam engine from mere pump into a ‘prime mover’ providing more energy to power generating machines in the factories. Before this invention, the steam engine had been used only in coal mines.
  • James Watt established the Soho Foundry, with the support of a wealthy manufacture Matthew Boulton, from where his steam engines were produced.
  • steam engine technology was further developed with the use of lighter, stronger metals, the manufacture of more accurate machine tools and the spread of better scientific knowledge.

Construction of Canals

  • Initially canals were built to transport coals to cities.
  • Transporting coal by road was expensive and slower and was difficult task due to the bulk and weight of coal.
  •  The first English canal, the Worsely Canal was built in 1761 by James Brindley and its completion decreased the value of coal by half.
  • Canals were used for transporting coals.
  • The big business men built canals in order to increase the value of their mines, quarries or forests on their land.
  • The construction of canals paved the way for the emergence of many new markets in new towns.
  • For example, Birmingham owed its growth to its position at the heart of the canal system connecting London, The British Channel and Mersey and Humber rivers.
  • In the period known as the ‘canal mania’, from 1788 to 1796, 46 projects for building 25 new canals were begun.

Advantages and Disadvantages 

  •  In the 1830s, the use of canals revealed several problems.
  • The congestion of vessels made movement slow on certain stretches of canals, and frost, flood or drought limited the time of their use.
  • The railways now appeared as a convenient alternative.
  • About 6,000 miles of railway was opened in Britain between 1830 and 1850, most of it in two short bursts.
  • During the ‘little railway mania’ of 1833-37, 1400 miles of line was built, and during the bigger ‘mania’ of 1844-47, another 9,500 miles of line was sanctioned.

Changed life

  • Profits: Some rich individuals who took risks and invested money in industries in the hope that profits could be made, and that their money would ‘multiply’. In most cases this money – capital – did multiply. Wealth, in the form of goods, incomes, services, knowledge and productive efficiency, did increase dramatically.
  • Huge population: The number of cities in England with a population of over 50,000 grew from two in 1750 to 29 in 1850. This pace of growth was not matched with the provision of adequate housing, sanitation or clean water for the rapidly growing urban population.
  • Newcomers were forced to live in overcrowded slums in the congested central areas of towns near factories, while the rich inhabitants escaped, by shifting to homes in the suburbs where the air was cleaner and the water safe to drink.

The Workers

  • the average lifespan of workers was lower than that of any other
  • Half the children failed to survive beyond the age of five.
  • The increase in the population of cities was because of immigrants, rather than by an increase in the number of children born to families who already lived there
  • disease that sprang from the pollution of water, like cholera and typhoid, or of the air,like tuberculosis.
  • municipal authorities were negligent in attending to these dangerous conditions of life and the medical knowledge to understand and cure these diseases was unknown.

Women, Children and industrialization

  • Children of the rural poor had always worked at home or in the farm, under the watchful eye of parents or relatives.
  • women were actively involved in farm work; they reared livestock, gathered firewood and spun yarn on spinning wheels in their homes.
  • unbroken hours of the same kind of work, under strict discipline and sharp forms of punishment, was completely different.
  • The earnings of women and children were necessary to supplement men’s meagre wages.
  • machinery spread, and fewer workers were needed, industrialists preferred to employ women and children who
    would be less agitated about their poor working conditions and work for lower wages than men.
  • Women were also the main workers in the silk, lace-making and knitting industries, as well as in the metal industries of Birmingham.
  • child workers with their small build and nimble fingers.
  • Children were often employed in textile factories because they were small enough to move between tightly packed machinery.
  • The long hours of work, including cleaning the machines on Sundays, allowed them little fresh air or exercise.
  • Children  crushed their hands, while some died when they fell into machines as they dropped off to sleep from exhaustion.
  • Coal mines were also dangerous places to work in.
  • Roofs caved in or there could be an explosion, and injuries were therefore common.
  • children to reach deep coal faces or those where the approach path was too narrow for adults.
  • Younger children worked as ‘trappers’ who opened and shut doors as the coal wagons travelled through  mines
  • Factory managers considered child labour to be important training for
    future factory work
  • the children they lost at birth or in early childhood and the squalid urban slums that industrial work compelled them to live in.

Protest Movements

French Revolution

  • The movements for ‘liberty, equality and fraternity’ showed the possibilities of collective mass action, both in creating democratic institutions like the French parliamentary assemblies
  • England, political protest against the harsh working conditions in factories kept increasing, and the working
    population agitated to be given the right to vote.

Coming Of Machine

  • Trade between England and Europe was disrupted, factories were forced to shut down, unemployment grew and the price of essential items of food,

Combination Act

  • Parliament in 1795 passed two Combination Acts which made it illegal to ‘incite the people by speech or writing to hatred or contempt of the King, Constitution or Government’; and banned unauthorised public meetings of over 50 persons. Protest, nonetheless, continued against ‘Old Corruption’.
  • Members of Parliament were against giving the right to vote to the working class people.
  • They supported the Corn Laws, which prevented the import of cheaper food till the prices in Britain had increased to a certain level
  • The workers flooding the towns and factories protested in order to show their anger and frustration.

Food Riots

  • There were food or bread riots from 1790 onwards.
  • The trade in food items was in favour of traders and affected the poor people.
  • The workers seized stocks of bread and sold it at a correct cost rather than at the rate fixed by traders.

Enclosure Movement

  • Enclosure was a process from the 1770s.Under this process big landlords merged hundreds of small farms to form big farms.
  • It affected poor rural families who sought after industrial work.
  • With the introduction of machines in the cotton industry, thousands of handloom weavers were thrown out of work and were subjected to poverty, as they could not compete with the machines in the textile industry.
  • The weavers began to demand minimum wage from 1790s.
  • When parliament refused their demand, they went on strike.
  •  In Lancashire, cotton weavers destroyed the power looms in desperation.

Act By People

  • Croppers of Yorkshire destroyed shearing-frames that threatened their livelihood.
  • They traditionally sheared sheep by hand .
  • During riots in 1830, the farmers destroyed threshing machines, as they found that new threshing machines threatened their job.


  • Luddism was a well known protest movement that fought for the right of workers, who were affected by the arrival of new machines from 1811to 1817.
  • It was started by General Ned Ludd.Minimum wages, control over the wage of women and children, work for
    those who had lost their jobs because of industrialization and right to form trade unions were some of the demands of the participants of this movement.

Peterloo Massacre.

  • In August 1819, nearly 80,000 working class people gathered peacefully at St.Peter’s Field in Manchester and demanded for democratic rights of political organization.
  • They were crushed with iron hand by the government. It came to be known as the Peterloo Massacre.
  • the rights they demanded were denied by the Six Acts

Reforms Through Laws

  • Laws were passed in 1819 prohibiting the employment of children under the age of nine in factories and limiting the hours of work of those between the ages of nine and sixteen to 12 hours a day
  • Act was passed that permitted children under nine to be employed only in silk factories, limited the hours of work for older children and provided a number of factory inspectors to ensure that the Act was enforced.
  • This limited the hours of work for women and young people, and secured a 10-hour day for male workers
  • These Acts applied to the textile industries but not to the mining industry.
  • The Mines Commission of 1842, set up by the government, revealed that working conditions in mines had actually become worse since the Act of 1833, because more children had been put to work in coal mines
  • . The Mines and Collieries Act of 1842 banned children under ten and women from working underground.

Was there an Industrial Revolution? (Debate on Industrial Revolution)

  •  The term Industrial Revolution was used to describe the changes that occurred in Britain between 1780s to the 1820s.
  • The term ‘industrial revolution’ has been challenged by modern historians.
  • Industrialization was a gradual change in industrial sectors rather than a sudden revolution.
  • The concentration of workers in factories, wide use of money etc.were already existed prior to the 19th century.Industrialisation carried out these processes towards new levels.
  • Large areas of England left unaffected by factories or mines.
  • Therefore the term industrial revolution was considered as incorrect.Industrialisation had centred on a few regions or cities such as London, Manchester, Birmingham or Newcastle.
  • The remarkable growth of cotton textile industry was based on non-British raw material and sales abroad and no-metallic money.
  • Metallic money and steam power was rare till the 19th century.
  • The rapid growth in British imports and exports from the 1780s occurred due to the resumption of trade with the North America.
  • The American war of independence had disrupted this trade.
  • Sustained industrial growth was to be seen after 1815-20.
  • The French Revolution and Napoleonic wars affected industries and factories decades after 1793.
  • Industrialization is closely related with investment of capital, building of infrastructure, installing new machines and rising  productivity.
  • However productive investment grew steadily only after 1820.
  • The cotton, iron and engineering industries had accounted for less than half of the industrial production until the 1840s.
  • Why the British economic growth was faster after 1815?
  • Historians pointed out that from 1760s to 1815, Britain tried to do two things simultaneously-to industrialize, and to fight wars in Europe.
  • Borrowed capital was used to fight the wars rather than invested
  • Nearly 35%of the cost of the war was collected from the people as tax.
  • Workers of factories and farms were transferred to the army.
  • Rise in food prices adversely affected the buying of consumer goods by the poor.
  • Napoleon’s policies of blockade, and British response to them led to the closing of Europe to British traders.
  • The word ‘industrial’ used with the word ’revolution’ is too limited.
  • The transformation extended beyond the economic or industrial sector also became apparent in the social sector.
  •  It generated two prominent classes: the bourgeoisie and the proletarian labourers


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