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An Evaluation of Processes and Services for the Partnership Advocating Safety and Security (Project PASS)

The introduction of steam power fuelled primarily by coal, wider utilisation of water wheels and powered machinery (mainly in textile manufacturing) underpinned the dramatic increases in production capacity. The development of all-metal machine tools in the first two decades of the 19th century facilitated the manufacture of more production machines for manufacturing in other industries. The effects spread throughout Western Europe and North America during the 19th century, eventually affecting most of the world, a process that continues as industrialisation.

According to Max Weber, the foundations of this process of change can be traced back to the Puritan Ethic of the Puritans of the 17th century.[43] This produced modern personalities attuned to innovation and committed to a work ethic, inspiring landed and merchant elites alive to the benefits of modernization, and a system of agriculture able to produce increasingly cheap food supplies. To this must be added the influence of religious nonconformity, which increased literacy and inculcated a “Protestant work ethic” amongst skilled artisans.[44]

A long run of good harvests, starting in the first half of the 18th century, resulted in an increase in disposable income and a consequent rising demand for manufactured goods, particularly textiles. The invention of the flying shuttle by John Kay enabled wider cloth to be woven faster, but also created a demand for yarn that could not be fulfilled. Thus, the major technological advances associated with the industrial revolution were concerned with spinning. James Hargreaves created the Spinning Jenny, a device that could perform the work of a number of spinning wheels. However, while this invention could be operated by hand, the water frame, invented by Richard Arkwright, could be powered by a water wheel. Indeed, Arkwright is credited with the widespread introduction of the factory system in Britain, and is the first example of the successful mill owner and industrialist in British history. The water frame was, however, soon supplanted by the spinning mule (a cross between a water frame and a jenny) invented by Samuel Crompton. Mules were later constructed in iron by Messrs. Horrocks of Stockport.