Home / papers / Why Britain Industrialized First

Why Britain Industrialized First

The Industrial Revolution created the modern society. It created today’s modern economic system, and created the middle class. The Industrial Revolution made huge gap between industrialized and non-industrialized country, but also tied them together. Industrial Revolution is the shift of manufacturing process which leads to change of power source from man to machines. It began in Britain in middle 1700s. Before the Industrial Revolution, people produced goods like textile by their hand, but as the revolution began, the machines began to do all these jobs. Soon, this act spread to many other countries in Continental Europe and North America. Although abundant natural resources of Great Britain was the important factor of the Industrial Revolution, it was other economic, agriculture, and political realities that made Britain become first country to industrialize and create today’s modern economic system.

Britain’s abundant natural resources was important for the industrial revolution, but it was not a determining factor of the revolution because other countries also had these resources yet they did not experienced the Industrial Revolution since later. Britain had abundant resources including waterways, waterpower and coal, and iron ore. They used rivers for inland transportation. The first power source they used was waterpower, but as they started to use steam engine, they used coal instead. Also, Britain made machines, tools, and buildings with iron ore. But these advantages were not only for Britain, but also for countries like United States, China, and France.

Even though these countries had same natural resources with Great Britain, they experienced the Industrial Revolution later when it was spread from Britain, which shows that the natural resources were not the determining factor of Industrial Revolution. Overseas trade, formation of corporations, and newly created inventions were the key economic factors of the Industrial Revolution. Britain was the first country to industrialize through their overseas trade empire. Britain already had strong ships which allowed British sailors to sail around the world and trade their products. This developed overseas trade made Britain to earn more money and create good economic system. Also, Britain had many wealthy colonies in Caribbean or Central America which earned lots of money from their cash crops like sugar, tobacco, and cottons.

As these colonies made lots of money from these cash crops, it made Britain wealthy and able to create more goods. In addition to overseas trade, the creation of corporations affected the Industrial Revolution. Efficient mass production required so much money for any one company to pay, so the corporations were created. Corporation is the business hold by many stockholders who can get the profit from business together. Companies needed many buildings and railroads in order to transport goods to consumers and natural resources for production. The railroads made them to sell products to more people, so the amount of railroad they had corresponded to the success of business. But they did not have enough money to create and maintain the railroads. So many entrepreneurs sold stocks which made stockholders get some of the profit of the business. This made companies able to buy expensive equipment’s for the business. Also, the location of corporations like factories was important.

Corporations were usually built in urbanized and large cities. By building factories in large and urbanized cities, they could use less money for transportation of products. There were more people in these cities, which provided the corporation cheaper labours. The corporations reduced the price of goods by saving money for productions. Inventions of textile, power sources, and transportation also helped the Industrialization. The textile inventions like spinning mule helped them to produce more products at once, and faster. Also, Eli Whitney’s invention made it easier to remove seeds from cotton. This made people to produce lot more clean cotton, which made Britain to buy more. As Britain buy more cotton, Britain produced more textile products which made its price lower. In addition to the textile inventions, the inventions of steam engine and transportation made them to produce and transport the products faster.

The increase of population provided from the Agricultural Revolution helped Britain to be the first country to industrialize. In 1700, wealthy land owners started to buy most of the lands in the village. Then, they enclosed these lands and started to experiment some farming methods in their land. The first scientific farmer invented the seed drill which made farmers to plant seeds in right place with right depth. This made more proportion of plants to survive which made these plants cheaper. Also, they used crop rotating methods to restore nutrients in their farming lands. Many farming method experimented by scientific farmers made them to produce more agricultural products. This increased the demand of foods and goods.

There were two effects that enclose acts made, which are experimenting more farming methods and move of small farmers to the cities. Large landowners forced other farmers to be tenant farmers of their land or to move to cities. As many farmers moved to cities, they became workers in factories which provided cheap labours for corporations. In addition to the Agricultural Revolution, political stability from military success, Parliament made Britain the first country to industrialize. In 18th century, Britain had many wars with other countries. But none of these wars took place in their own land, which made them to save money, time, and land for wars and focus on economic developments. Also, British Parliament was more independent from monarchs than any other countries in Europe. It made them to create rights to protect investors. These rights made entrepreneurs to invest more money to their corporation, which helped their business to develop. As these corporations developed, they were able to create more products. In addition to these political factors, British had unique advantages with having all three lands, labour, and capital which Industrial Revolution required.  All these economic development, agricultural revolution, and the political stability helped British to become first country to have Industrial Revolution. The industrial revolution created modern economic system, and middle class. The Industrial Revolution made huge gap between industrialized and non-industrialized country but also tied them together, because industrialized countries needed more natural resources and undeveloped lands. Through Industrial Revolution, now the modern worlds developed more and are having great social and economic system



Francesco Piccirilli. (2012). Why Britain Industrialized First? Kindle Edition