`1. What was the Industrial Revolution?

spinning and carding wool at home
spinning and carding wool at home

a) BEFORE...
We live very differently today to the way people lived 300 years ago.

Think back to what you learnt about life in Medieval England. What was life like for most people in the towns and villages? What kinds of work did they do?

One of the main industries was the production of cloth = textiles. Spinning and weaving was mainly done at home, using wool grown nearby, or cotton imported by the East India Company from India.

But this was all to change, as wealthy merchants realized there was a more profitable way.

By 1750, the most powerful nation in the world was Great Britain. It had the largest empire, the greatest wealth, and the most political power. Now new inventions, built on advances in science, led to huge changes in how things were made, grown and moved. This caused great upheaval in people’s lives. This period is called the Industrial Revolution.

Watch this quick overview.
What changes did you notice? Why did it causes many people to MOVE? What is URBANISATION?

The impact of industrialisation
The impact of industrialisation

Coal mining - coal became the main source of power for the growing factories - replacing water and steam. Coal mining became a growth industry - and many reforms were needed to make it less dangerous and cruel.
Read here.

One of the biggest areas of impact at this time was on life in rural England, on the farms and villages. During the 18th century, scientific and mechanical ideas were changing how Britons farmed and lived. The Industrial Revolution which followed on from these changes, saw thousands leave the land for new sorts of work in towns and cities. Folk who used to work from home - "cottars" - spinning wool in particular [see image above], found themselves replaced by new machines in textile factories. Cotton was the new growth industry, shipped from abroad where it may have been picked by slaves.

Take this quiz to see if you could have become a cotton millionaire!

Several new inventions meant that the work of many on the land could be taken over by machines. This use of new machinery and growth of factories meant that great numbers of people left rural areas of England to live in cities [URBANISATION]. Quality of life for the working poor in cities was often very low. Housing was poor, cities polluted, wages low and crime was on the rise. The working poor did not have the right to vote.

The famous 19th century author, Charles Dickens, often wrote about how awful working lives were. He called the first textile mills - which used child labour to a great extent - the "dark, Satanic mills".
For many there was no work at all, and no government support. The workhouse was the last refuge of the destitute - other than crime. The workhouses, and orphanages provided cheap labour for the new factories and other industries. Work was considered a valid form of welfare.

Look at some of these primary sources. What do they show about life for different groups during the Industrial Revolution? Who benefitted and how? Who suffered and why?
It is interesting to note that when Dickens was taken on a tour of a new textile factory in America, he was impressed with how clean and pleasant it was. Others observed that textile workers displayed harmful effects. This shows that there can be different interpretations of historic events; both good and bad impacts can be seen.

interactive game about impact of IR on towns

Try this quiz. It gives a great simple summary of the main facts.
There are links to lots of sources at these sites [scroll down], and here.

The Industrial Revolution caused both positive and negative effects on people's lives. Create a table and decide whether the benefits out-weigh the hardships...Use the sources from the website links above.

One group whose lives were affected by the Industrial Revolution, were working children. Before the rise of factories, most children were in some form of work, rather than school. This was often on farms or in cottage industries. The rise of textile factories saw many children now working in industrial towns, often separated from their families.

Orphans in particular, provided cheap labour for many factories in the early 1800s.
Much of the labour was provided by 'pauper apprentices', who were often children below the age of ten. Many of them were orphans sent into factory employment by the Poor Law authorities, often very far from their home parishes. This was seen as a form of welfare.

In 1800 some 20,000 apprentices were employed in cotton mills. In the next decade as many as a fifth of workers in the cotton industry were children under the age of 13. Some estimate that nearly 1/3 of British workers overall at this time, were young people 7 to 13 years of age.

Watch this BBC clip. Learn more at this interactive site.

Use sources to build a clearer understanding of life for working children. What jobs did they do? How did they spend their time at work? What were their hours and conditions? Where did they live? What did they eat? [You will see a range of experiences and conditions]
Sources from "The Society for Waifs and Strays" - a charity for homeless children.
BBC history site - useful facts and figures.
Excerpts from the Sadler report of 1832 [see below].

Many works of literature from this period describe the changes people were experiencing - mostly negative. Can you write a poem/ballad/short story or children's book about the terrible working and living conditions many endured?

REFORMERS: Not everyone in society was comfortable with this treatment of children [though many were]. Fore example, Robert Owen was a wealthy factory owner who believed in social justice and ran his cotton mill with an emphasis on fair treatment of workers. Children were provided with education and families given decent housing. He felt he could achieve more by relocating to the United States.

Read here what changes he wanted. Write down significant facts and figures.

Reformers continued to pressure Parliament for change. Two Members of Parliament - Lord Shaftsbury [Ashley-Cooper] and Michael Sadler, succeeded in establishing an Inquiry into Child Labour in 1832. This enquiry produced volumes of evidence of the exploitation of children in factories.
Another minister, Robert Peel, proposed an Act to reduce hours ad improve conditions for child workers. In 1833 the Factory Act was passed. Critics argued that if children could not work, they would either starve or turn to crime,

[You can read some of the comments of Sadler's critics here - e.g. "the children must either work or starve".]
Accounts from the Inquiry provide detailed - and often heart-rending - primary sources about the experiences of child workers.

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