What are the causes of the Industrial Revolution in England?


1. Enormous Expansion in Overseas Trade of Britain.

Enormous ex­pansion in Britain’s trade in overseas markets was one of the major causes of Technological Revolution. During the seventeenth and eighteenth cen­turies Britain had carved out an extensive colonial empire and successfully excluded the other powers like Spain, Holland and France from their markets. As a result, she acquired a sort of monopoly in these markets.

The growing demand for the British goods in these markets gave a stimu­lus to the British manufacturers to take to machine methods. It is well known that the mechanical inventions of the eighteenth century such as spinning, jenny of Hargreaves, the water-frame of Arkwright, the mule of Crompton and the power-loom of Cartwright etc. were invented to increase the production of cotton cloth which was in great demand in India. According to Birnie, “These inventions are sometimes spoken of as the primary cause of the Industrial Revolution.


In reality, they were a secondary cause only. Machines for turning out cheap goods in large quantities are useless unless there is a market capable of absorbing the increased output. The market must come first; the inventions follow. Mechanical discoveries have often the appearance of being due to accident, but unconsciously the successful inventor works within limits laid down for him by the changing needs of society.”

2. Availability of Capital.

The vast amount of capital which England had accumulated out of profits of her growing trade enabled her to make large outlays on machinery and buildings, which in turn contributed to new technological developments.

In addition England also possessed a large amount of loanable capital obtained by the Bank of England from the rich trade of other countries. This capital also helped England to steal a march over other European countries.


3. Practical bent of mind of the English Researchers.

Another factor which contributed to England’s lead in the technological revolution was that the English scientists and engineers had a very practical bent of mind. They made inventions keeping in view the needs of the time.

They con­centrated mainly on those inventions of science which had practical utility. This was in complete contrast to the continental scientists who concen­trated on research in electricity; chemicals etc. which were not of immedi­ate applied relevance.

4. Small population.


The small size of England’s population, which could not cope with England’s growing trade, also necessitated that new devices should be found out to keep production in line with the growing demand.

This is best exemplified by the changes in the textile industry as well as the coal industry. The shortage of the labour force compelled ;the owners to encourage and apply new mechanical devices.

5. Social and political stability.

Britain not only enjoyed complete freedom of trade but also an insular position which saved her from the disastrous consequences of war, which ravaged the countries of Europe.


This social stability prevailing in England encouraged the people to invest in sectors where they could hope to receive high dividend in future. This led to adoption of new techniques and promotion of new industries.

6. The availability of coal and iron mines close to each other.

The location of the coal and iron mines close to each other encouraged the English to evolve new techniques for the manufacture of iron and utilization of the coals. It is well known that the availability of coal and iron ores in large quantities greatly helped the growth of numerous industries in England.

The need for large quantities of coal for smelting of iron ores, transportation etc. necessitated improvement in the techniques of coal mining. Metal cages and tubs were used to lift coal. Even the use of wire ropes for lifting of coal was started a little later. Engines were invented to pump out the water from the mines.


7. The agricultural revolution.

In Britain the agricultural revolution had already taken place which greatly transformed the English society.

It not only made available necessary raw materials to run the new industries but also provided a large number of agricultural labourers for employment in the new factories.

8. Presence of enterprising people.

Finally, the technological changes in England were made possible because of the presence of a sizable sec­tion of people who possessed enterprising spirit and requisite technical qualities.

Further this class of people also possessed organizing abilities and was accustomed to the handling of large enterprises and labour force. These people were willing to invest money for the discovery of new tech­niques and give a fair trial to these techniques.

9. Risk-taking Private Sector.

The presence of a sizable private sector in the country with great capacity of the individual businessmen to take risks also greatly contributed to the industrial revolution. These business­men were willing to take a chance on new things.

In this way they were also supported by the government.

10. Better means of transport.

England possessed a far better network of means of transportation than any other country of Europe which greatly helped the industrial revolution. In this task the government played an important role which spent considerable amount on the improvement of roads and construction of canals.

11. Geographical location.

The geographical location of England also greatly helped in industrial revolution. Being cut-off from the mainland of Europe, England remained immune from wars and upheavals of Napo­leonic conflicts and conditions remained quite stable in the country. These stable conditions enabled England to develop their industrial capac­ity without fear of battle, damage or loss of life.

12. Flexibility of English social and political system.

Above all the flexibility of the English social and political system also greatly con­tributed to industrial revolution in England.

The members of the upper classes in Britain, unlike their counterparts in the continent, pursued their wealth in the new industrial framework with great enthusiasm. They worked in close co-operation with the middle classes and artisans which greatly facilitated the industrial revolution.

In short, we can say that in comparison to other European countries England was more favourably placed in many respects and no wonder stole lead over them in the field of technological revolution and industrialization.

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