The first Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain after 1750. There were several factors that combined to make Great Britain an ideal place for industrialization. First, the Agricultural Revolution of the 18th century created a favourable climate for industrialization.
By increasing food production, the British population could be fed at lower prices with less effort than ever before. The surplus of food meant that British families could use the money they saved to purchase manufactured goods. The population increase in Britain and the exodus of farmers from rural to urban areas in search of wage-labour created a ready pool of workers for the new industries.
Britain had financial institutions in place, such as a central bank, to finance new factories. The profits Britain had enjoyed due to booming cotton and trade industries allowed investors to support the construction of factories.
British entrepreneurs interested in taking risks to make profits were leading the charge of industrialization. The English revolutions of the 17th century had fostered a spirit of economic prosperity. Early industrial entrepreneurs were willing to take risks on the chance that they would reap financial rewards later. Britain had a vast supply of mineral resourcesused to run industrial machines, such as coal. Since Britain is a relatively small country, these resources could be transported quickly and at a reasonable cost. The British government passed laws that protectedprivate propertyand placed few restrictions on private business owners. Britain's merchant marine could transport goods to foreign markets. Lastly, Great Britain'scolonial empirecreated a ready supply of consumers to purchase its manufactured goods.
Without important technological changes, the first Industrial Revolution would not have been possible. In the 18th century, Britain's cotton industrycharged ahead of many other countries. WithJames Hargreaves' invention of the spinning Jenny in 1764, yarn could be produced in greater quantities.
In 1787, Edmund Cartwright's power loom revolutionized the speed of cloth weaving.
In the 1760s, the steam engine (developed by James Watt) further transformed the cotton industry.
Unlike early devices powered exclusively by water, these steam engines were powered by coal. This meant that factories no longer needed to be located next to sources of water.
Another change occurred in the production ofiron. During the early 18th century, a new method of smelting iron by using coke or 'courke' was introduced. Since the coke could heat iron more quickly than charcoal, production rates increased. This iron was instrumental in creating industrial machinery and railroad lines.