At the start of the Industrial Revolution, improvements to road and water transport made an essential contribution to economic growth. However it was the use of the steam engine in ships and trains that really revolutionised communications.

The invention of the steam locomotive (Trevitchick, 1804), the development of the first commercial steamship (Fulton, 1807), and then the opening of the first public railway (Stephenson, 1825) all made it possible to transport large quantities of goods more quickly and more easily.