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Industrial Revolution Assignment, Research Paper Example

Pages: 3

Words: 889

Research Paper

It was during the 1800’s in Great Britain that an industrial revolution spread across the country. Essentially the increased adoption of steam powered machines resulted in a massive expansion of factories in the towns and cities across the country.  The resulting expansion created an exodus of people from the country into the towns and cities where they could find better paid jobs.  By 1851 roughly half of the UK population resided in the Greater London area. London, similar to the other British Cities was not prepared for this sudden rate of expansion. The result led to an acute shortage of housing and accommodation and a general state of overcrowding.  (Kreiss, 2001)

The housing situation became such that the majority of dwellings were located close to the factories where people worked.  This was known as the Victorian era and the squalor associated in the novels of author Charles Dickens.  Houses were built quickly, cheaply and of poor quality, having between 2-4 rooms and often accommodating families with several children. Often there was no running water or toilets and families shared a community pump or well.  The worst areas being in the North of England where huge lines of terraced houses were constructed with a sewer running down the middle of the street.  The working class people that dwelled in them threw their garbage into the streets and as such invited the perfect breeding ground for disease. Hence ” More than 31,000 people died during an outbreak of cholera in 1832 and lots more were killed by typhus, smallpox and dysentery.” (Anon, 2009)

Another factor was the large amount of pollution in these areas. Most of the factories were coal powered and the coal created dense clouds of black smoke in the atmosphere.  Hence the environment was both filthy and unhealthy.  It became so bad that the town had most of the natural light blacked out and it encouraged dense smog.

The result of the Industrial Revolution became a significant political issue for Great Britain.  In 1848 Parliament passed laws requiring the local City and Town councils to clean up the streets.  ” One of the first cities to become a healthier place was Birmingham. Proper sewers and drains were built. Land owners had to build houses to a set standard. Streets were paved and lighting was put up. Over time slums were knocked down and new houses built” (Anon, 2009). In the first instances improvement was slow because the people were poor. When one slum was demolished they simply relocated to another one.

In order to fuel the factories Britain had a great reliance upon coal. It was also a source of power that she had in great abundance.  This created the rise of coalmines throughout the country.  They were dreadful dangerous places where there was risk of tunnel collapse, explosions and the miners faced the risk of terrible injuries.  At the time there was little health and safety rules and the work was accomplished by men women and children.  It was not until the Passing of the Mines Act in 1842 before children were forbidden to work in the mines.  Apart from the mines, thousands of other children worked in the cotton mills, mainly around the Lancashire region.  The worked in harsh conditions at the mills and even time off was spent cleaning the machines in which they worked.  The work was very dangerous and resulted in many child accidents from either getting caught up in the machines or getting crushed.

Finally in 1833 the Government passed a Factory Act to improve conditions for children working in factories. The basic act stated the following conditions:

  • No child workers under 9 years of age.
  • Employers must have a medical or age certificate for child workers.
  • Children between the ages of 9-13 to work no more than 9 hours a day.
  • Children between 13-18 to work no more than 12 hours a day.
  • Children are not to work at night.
  • Two hours schooling each day for children.  (John Simkin (BA, 2009)

Only four  factory inspectors were appointed to enforce the law throughout the whole of the country. As such despite this Act it did not mean that the mistreatment and abuse of Children ceased immediately.

The rise of the Factory System in the 18th Century enabled industrial advances over a number of distinct fronts.  Shipbuilding enabled Britain to create a great Navy that it used for the management and protection of its colonial resources.  This enabled more raw materials to be brought to the UK further fuelling the factories and production of manufactured goods.  It also sped up the production of armaments and ammunition factories.  The machines were far more efficient than the human beings and as such created an endless supply of energy.  Advanced technology however was considered to be at the expense of scientific advancement. Whilst Britain was obsessed with all things mechanical, its European counterparts were making strides in astronomy and other sciences. The Industrial revolution served the maintenance of an Empire. (Hudson, 1992)

Works Cited

Anon. (2009). Nettlesworth Primary School. Retrieved 12 15, 2009, from Nettlesworth Primary School: http://www.nettlesworth.durham.sch.uk/time/victorian/vindust.html

Hudson, P. (1992). The Industrial Revolution. In P. Hudson, The Industrial Revolutio (p. 239). London: Oxford University Press.

John Simkin (BA, M. M. (2009). Industrial Revolution: 11 to 14 years. Retrieved 12 15, 2009, from Spartacus Education : http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/REVhistoryIR2.htm

Kreiss, S. (2001). Origins of the Industrial Revolution. Retrieved 12 15, 2009, from The History Guide: http://www.historyguide.org/intellect/lecture17a.html

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