1730s: British agriculturist Charles Townshend popularises the four-field crop rotation system in England. It greatly increases farming output and allows livestock to be bred year-round.
Rotherham Swing Plough
Joseph Foljambe of Rotherham invents a lighter cast iron plough. Requiring less animals to pull and one less person to control, it becomes the most popular plough in Britain, Scotland, America, and France.
British Agricultural Revolution
Agricultural innovations steadily improves farm production in Great Britain, but also reduces the amount of required workers. There is an increase in workshop and mill employment.
Britain struggled with famines in the late 1600s, which lowered the population by over 1 million. However, the populations of England and Wales now steadily grow due to the plentiful food supply.
The British Agricultural Revolution took place between 1700-1850. It is considered a major cause of the Industrial Revolution as it forced employment to shift from farming to manufacturing.
1766: English businessman Matthew Boulton completes construction of a large toy workshop in Birmingham. It is the first factory-like building to mass produce items using an assembly line system.
1769: Entrepreneur Richard Arkwright and clockmaker John Kay develop a spinning frame for cotton-spinning. Initially designed to use horse-power, it is soon adapted to use water-power.
1771: Arkwright builds the world’s first water-powered cotton mill at Cromford. It is the first factory to have continuous production; there are no interruptions between the raw material and the finished product.
Matthew Boulton and other businessmen build a canal in Birmingham to help import material and export products. The canal is gradually extended and expanded into a large canal network.
Birmingham is considered the first modern industrial town in the world and Soho Manufactory is considered to be one of the first modern factories.
A major cast iron bridge opens over the River Wear. The 237 feet (72 m) bridge is the longest single-span bridge in the world and is viewed as a wonder of the Industrial Age.
The British population has been steadily increasing due to the stable food supply and improved medical treatments. The population of England grew from about 5.2 million to 8.2 million in the past century.
The Principle of Population
1798: Economist Thomas Robert Malthus writes an essay that warns of future difficulties due to the growing British population. He is concerned that it will lead to food problems and increased poverty.
High-Pressure Steam Engine
1799: British mining engineer Richard Trevithick develops a steam engine that can safely use steam at high pressures. The more efficient engine can be smaller, faster, or more powerful.
Thanos was also influenced by the works of Malthus.
British Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger introduces the world’s first modern income tax. It is used to pay for weapons and equipment for British forces in the French Revolutionary War.
1800 Census Act
1800: The British parliament passes an act to perform a census of the population. It is influenced by the writings of Thomas Malthus, but also to assess the number of men available for conflict in Europe.
The United Kingdom
1801: The parliaments of Great Britain and Ireland each passed an Act of Union. It unites the two kingdoms and creates the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
The first modern census is taken in the United Kingdom. It estimates the population of England and Wales to be 8.9 million and Scotland to be 1.6 million. Ireland is not included in the census.
1803: When Napoleon Bonaparte annexes territory and interferes with trade in Europe, the United Kingdom declares war on France. Additional states gradually join the large European conflict.
One Billion People
1804: The human population reaches 1 billion. There are about 694 million in Asia, 209 million in Europe, 69 million in Africa, 19 million in South America, and 9 million in North America.
French weaver Joseph Jacquard invents a programmable loom in the textile manufacturing city of Lyon. The loom can wove different cloth patterns by using a set of punch cards.
Emperor Napoleon wants to compete with Britain’s textile industry. He visits Jacquard’s loom and soon grants Jacquard a yearly pension of 3000 francs in exchange for giving the patent to the city of Lyon.
Jacquard’s use of punch cards to control a sequence of operations is a major step in the history of computing.
1807: American engineer Robert Fulton invents a steamboat. He successfully carries passengers on a 300 mile (480km) round trip of the Hudson River between New York City and Albany.
After further refinements, the North River Steamboat begins regular passenger service. It proves to be commercially successful and Fulton builds another sixteen steamboats.
Erie Canal Commission
1810: A group is formed to oversee the building of a lengthy canal to connect the Great Lakes Basin with the Atlantic Ocean. Robert Fulton soon becomes a member of the commission.
New Orleans Steamboat
Robert Fulton commissions the construction of a steamboat for the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. It initiates an era of commercialized steamboat navigation in the south-central and mid-western United States.
Many American cities, counties, buildings, and streets are named after Robert Fulton.
German inventor Frederick Windsor founds a company to supply London, England with gas from coal. The company soon builds the first permanent gas street lights in London.
Henry Bell’s PS Comet begins a passenger service on the River Clyde between Glasgow and Greenock, the first commercially successful steamboat service in Europe
1813: Industrial Engineer William Hedley of England invents the coupling of rail wheels, which makes locomotives more efficient on rails. He constructs the Puffing Billy locomotive to showcase his design.
Cornwall in south west England is rich in copper and tin. Hundreds of steam engines pump water out of the deep mines and the extracted precious metals are transported throughout the globe.
1814-1815: Napoleon surrenders when the English decisively defeat the French in the massive Battle of Waterloo. The borders of Europe are redrawn during a diplomatic conference in Vienna.
The Year Without a Summer
1815-1816: Mount Tambora erupts in Southeast Asia and causes a volcanic winter event. Europe struggles with an extremely cold summer, which causes widespread crop failures.
The United Kingdom struggles with postwar depression, poor harvests, and unemployment. The Luddite rebellion gives way to large post-war riots. Some conspirators attempt to gain control of the government.
1819: Lancashire workers demand proper government representation by protesting in Peter’s Square. Cavalry soon charge into the crowd of 60,000, which kills some and injures many.
The Napoleonic Wars will be detailed in an upcoming page.
Many cotton mills are built along the Rochdale canal in Manchester. The city grows into the most prominent industrial centre. It is nicknamed Cottonopolis and Warehouse City.
Children as young as four are hired to work long hours in factories and mines. They work in dangerous conditions, such as crawling through mine tunnels too small for adults.
Quarry Bank Expansion
Samuel Greg greatly expands Quarry Bank Mill near Manchester and buys steam engines to improve water flow in the summer. It grows into the largest cotton mill business in the United Kingdom.
Persuaded by his wife Hannah, Samuel Greg provides housing for his workers and medical care with on-site physicians. He also builds a school and provides education and apprenticeships for the children.
Manchester’s population doubled from 328,000 in 1801 to 700,000 in 1831. It reached 1 million in 1851.
1824: There is an increasing number of homeless, including veterans from the Napoleonic Wars. Despite opposition, the United Kingdom makes it illegal for people to beg for money or sleep in public.
Weights and Measures Act
The British Parliament passes an act that standardises measurements throughout the United Kingdom and its royal territories. The system becomes known as Imperial Units.
Charles Dickens’ father is sentenced to a debtor’s prison. At the age of twelve, Charles is forced to leave school and work under harsh conditions in a shoe polishing warehouse to help support his family.
The United Kingdom passes an act to improve the labour conditions for children in factories. However, when they are ignored, additional acts are gradually passed to enforce the child labour rules.
Imperial Units replaces the Winchester Standards which had been the weights and measures system for over 230 years.