Ch 11 The Industrial Revolution

CH.11-INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION

Hits: 1741

CHAPTER XI: INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION

SECTION 2: FUEL IRON & TRANSPORT

 

EARLY IN THE 18th CENTURY, ENGLAND FACED A SERIOUS SHORTAGE OF FUEL. THE WOODS HAD BEEN FELLED AND THE LAND BROUGHT UNDER THE PLOUGH.

SUSSEX WEALD, SHROPSHIRE AND THE FOREST OF DEAN, AS IN IRELAND, WERE STRIPPED BARE, ALL BECAUSE SMELTING OF IRON WAS DONE WITH CHARCOAL. MANY TONS OF WOOD WAS REQUIRED TO PRODUCE ONE TON OF IRON.

ATTEMPTS WERE MADE TO MOVE PRODUCTION TO NEW ENGLAND, BUT, INSTEAD, TIMBER WAS IMPORTED FROM SWEDEN AND RUSSIA.

EXPERIMENTS WITH COAL HAD STARTED IN THE MIDDLE AGES FOR DOMESTIC USE MAINLY. MINING IT NEAR NEWCASTLE WAS POSSIBLE, AS IT WAS NEAR THE SURFACE, AND TRANSPORT BY SEA TO LONDON WAS POSSIBLE.

COAL WAS USED FOR SMELTING IRON BEFORE THE CIVIL WAR, BUT IT WAS ONLY WHEN THE FUEL SITUATION BECAME DESPERATE DID IT TAKE OFF.

THE DARBY’S OF COLEBROOKDALE AND ROEBUCKS CARRON WORKS IN 1760 MADE GREAT IMPROVEMENTS IN THAT THE BLAST FROM COAL RID THE ORE OF SULPHUR AND OTHER IMPURITIES.

IN 1765, AT MERTHYR, A NEW CENTRE OF BLAST FURNACES INCREASED PRODUCTION FROM 17,000 TONS IN 1740 TO 125,000 TONS IN 1796.

WITHOUT COAL, THERE COULD HAVE BEEN NO MODERN SCIENTIFIC METALLURGY FOR LARGE INDUSTRY, NO CONSTRUCTION OF MACHINERY - ELABORATE AND DELICATE - FOR THE TEXTILE INDUSTRY AND NO STEAM ENGINE DESIGN FOR INCREASED POWER.

THE FIRST IRON BRIDGE WAS BUILT OVER THE RIVER SEVERN IN 1779 AND THE FIRST IRON SHIP IN 1790.


QUALITY AND PURITY OF IRON WENT HAND IN HAND.TOOL MAKING ALLOWED ENGINEERS TO WORK NOT IN INCHES BUT MINUTE FRACTIONS OF AN INCH, WHICH MADE IT POSSIBLE FOR PATTERN MAKING AND INTERCHANGEABLE PARTS.

THE IRON MASTERS OF SUSSEX AND THE MIDLANDS HAD LARGE CAPITAL AND MADE RAPID PROGRESS WITHOUT MUCH STRUCTURAL ALTERATIONS.  

ENGLAND BECAME AN EXPORTER OF IRON AND HAD BEGUN TO IMPORT ORE FROM SWEDEN AND SPAIN. IT USED COAL MINED AT HOME AND IS ONE REASON WHY THE INDUSTRY TOOK ROOT ALONG THE SOUTH WALES COAST.

COAL MINING DEVELOPED RAPIDLY AND WAS ALWAYS CAPITALIST, AS MANY PEERS AND LANDOWNERS WERE ALSO COAL OWNERS.

THE DUKE OF BRIDGEWATER, FAMOUS AS A CANAL BUILDER, CHEATED HIS WORKERS.  LONSDALE AND LONDONDERRY REGARDED WORKERS AS SERFS.

COAL HAD ONE DISADVANTAGE. DEPOSITS WERE CONCENTRATED IN A FEW COUNTIES, WHILE WOOD WAS FAIRLY EVENLY DISTRIBUTED. AS LONG AS INTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS WERE POOR, IT COULD NEVER BE AN EFFECTIVE SUBSTITUTE.

SO CANALS WERE BUILT, AS IN 1700 FEW ROADS EXISTED WHICH WHEELED VEHICLES COULD TRAVEL ON AT ALL TIMES OF THE YEAR.

COAL FROM MANCHESTER TO LIVERPOOL COST 40s A TON, AND THAT HALVED AFTER THE CANAL WAS BUILT.

CANALS WERE EXTENDED RIGHT ACROSS ENGLAND, COMPARABLE TO THE GREAT RAILWAY BOOM OF THE 19th CENTURY.

WHEAT COAL, POTTERY AND IRON GOODS FROM THE MIDLANDS FOUND A WAY TO THE SEA AND WERE EASILY MOVED TO MOST PARTS OF THE COUNTRY.

ROADS WERE IMPROVED IN THE 19th CENTURY, BUT CANALS REMAINED THE PRINICIPAL MEANS OF DISTRIBUTION UNTIL THEY WERE DELIBERATELY DESTROYED BY RAILWAY COMPANIES 50 YEARS LATER.

ON THE ROADS, IMPROVEMENTS WERE SLOW. TOLL GATES WERE ERECTED ON MAIN ROADS AND UPKEEP WAS PAID FOR BY PASSING TRAFFIC.

AFTER THE JACOBITE RISING OF 1745, SOME ROADS WERE CONSTRUCTED FOR MILITARY PURPOSES. WHERE TURNPIKE TRUSTS EXISTED, THE ROAD WOULD BE WELL MADE, BUT AFTER A FEW MILES FURTHER ON, WHERE CORRUPTION AND INEFFICIENCY RULED, THE ROAD WOULD BE BAD.

MINOR ROADS AND BYROADS HAD SCARCELY ALTERED SINCE THE MIDDLE AGES. EARLY IN THE 19th CENTURY, SCIENTIFIC ROAD CONSTRUCTION BEGAN WITH MACADAM, AND THERE WAS A GENERAL IMPROVEMENT, BUT THIS WAS CHECKED WHEN THE RAILWAYS TOOK OVER AND LITTLE MORE WAS DONE UNTIL MOTOR VEHICLES CAME INTO GENERAL USE.

AS BAD AS ROADS WERE IN 1800, BY TODAY’S STANDARDS, THEY HAD IMPROVED, AND, ALTHOUGH CANALS WERE MORE IMPORTANT FOR HEAVY VEHICLES, SPEED AND EASE OF COMMUNICATIONS COULD BE MAINTAINED BETWEEN MOST PARTS OF BRITAIN. A REGULAR POSTAL SERVICE WAS ESTABLISHED, WHICH BROUGHT MANUFACTURERS MORE CLOSELY IN TOUCH WITH THEIR MARKETS.

We use cookies to improve our website and your experience when using it. Cookies used for the essential operation of the site have already been set. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our Privacy Policy.

I accept cookies from this site