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Why did the industrial revolution happen in Britain first?

Why did the industrial revolution happen in Britain first?

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Asked by H.Donna, Last updated: May 10, 2022

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A.Jeff

A.Jeff

A.Jeff
A.Jeff

Answered Feb 26, 2018

In the late 1700s, Great Britain began inventing machines and machinery that allowed workers to make products quicker. The British would purchase millions of cotton from cotton farms. Then Great Britain invented spinning and weaving machines that would allow the workers to spin the cotton at a much faster pace than doing it by hand. Also, they would weave the yarn into fabric and again this machine saved them much time.

After using these machines, the United States and other countries around the world decided that they could perfect the machines and make them work even faster. Over the years, the machines would be transformed again and again until they are now the machines we have today. At the time, Great Britain was one of the most powerful countries in the world. It had access to the money and people to invent these machines.

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Malcolm Carneal

Malcolm Carneal

Get immense pleasure in traveling and writing about visiting places.

Malcolm Carneal
Malcolm Carneal, Digital Nomad, MCA, Vienna

Answered Feb 26, 2018

Why Industrial Revolution happened in Britain first is a hot topic debate for historians.


The textile industry was the major industry during the British Industrial Revolution. There were 3 major factors that turned it into a large-scale industry. The development of canals, the Enlightenment Movement and the development of steam machinery through The Scientific Revolution.


Before the Industrial Revolution, the textile industry was home-based. The business class of Britain had a high standard of living and the trade between the colonies and other empires gave them a capitalist outlook. The development of steam-powered machines and the construction of canals occurred simultaneously and helped the cause of large-scale production. It started from textiles followed by iron industries and chemical industries.
Most historians agree that the British maintained secrecy about their technology and that didn't let other empires develop. But this is disproven by the fact that the steam-powered loom arrived in Bavaria in 1807 but the Revolution didn't start there until late 19th century. Another argued reason is that the upper classes increased in population and their business mindedness was carried by their offspring. The open-mindedness of the royalty to development proved a boon for the businessmen. Another argued reason is the availability of raw materials but this is disregarded as Bavaria had more iron than Britain and The American Revolution caused the loss of an important colony and stop the inflow of raw materials from the Americas. Some say the high standards of living promoted trade but the U.S. had higher standards of living than the British at that time but still took the wave later.

By 1850, Britain was literally called the 'Workshop of The World' and it took the world half a century to beat its grandeur. By early 20th century, The U.S., Germany, and Japan overtook Britain's development.

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