Western Civilization Since 1660
9 March 2017
British Industrial Revolution
The British Industrial Revolution originally started out relatively small, but after some time spread throughout the entire continent of Europe and then to the rest of the world. In the beginning, hopeful entrepreneurs used the cottage system also sometimes referred to as the putting out system to produce and sell clothing. This system eventually led to the more efficient factory system which was strongly supported by the industrialists and allowed for much more clothing to be made in the same amount of time. Britain had a set of unique advantages that led to industrialization, the three most important being a large and accessible supply of capital, a surplus of consumers in need of cheap cotton clothing, and a multitude of different means of transportation. The Industrial Revolution changed British society immensely, and although it may seem like it changed society for the better, it did cause problems for a lot of people, mainly the working class.
The stepping stone that ended up leading to the factory system and the Industrial Revolution was known as the cottage system, or putting out system. This system was a way for entrepreneurs to earn money in the textile industry without needing to do the work of spinning and weaving themselves. These businessmen would purchase the materials needed to make the clothing, then they would pay farmers and peasants to spin and weave the materials into cloth. The farmers would do this work in their homes or cottages which is why this system came to be known as the cottage system. This was a great way for merchants to make money and a way for farmers and peasants to make a bit of extra money on the side along with their income from agriculture. This also allowed poor people and young people earn skills that would help them in the future. (Spielvogel 552)
The cottage system was, in time, replaced by the factory system. In the 18th century, a few inventions came about that enabled workers to speed up the weaving and spinning processes. The flying shuttle sped up the weaving process significantly, however this caused a yarn shortage. This led to the invention of the spinning jenny by James Hargreaves which increased yarn production. Then came the water frame spinning machine and the so-called mule created by Richard Arkwright and Samuel Crompton respectively which sped up yarn production even more. Edmund Cartwright invented the power loom which greatly improved the weaving process. All of these machines slowly began to replace the hand-weavers and cottage systems. Entrepreneurs realized that they could maximize cloth production if they built factories near water supplies like rivers and streams in order to use these water powered inventions rather than continuing using hand looms and the cottage system. (Spielvogel 599)
Great Britain had a unique set of advantages that led to industrializatio...