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technological advances associated with the industrial revolution

The progress of the textile trade soon outstripped the original supplies of raw materials. By the turn of the 19th century, imported American cotton had replaced wool in the North West of England, though wool remained the chief textile in Yorkshire. Textiles have been identified as the catalyst in technological change in this period. The application of steam power stimulated the demand for coal; the demand for machinery and rails stimulated the iron industry; and the demand for transportation to move raw material in and finished products out stimulated the growth of the canal system, and (after 1830) the railway system.

Such an unprecedented degree of economic growth was not sustained by domestic demand alone. The application of technology and the factory system created such levels of mass production and cost efficiency that enabled British manufacturers to export inexpensive cloth and other items worldwide.

Walt Rostow has posited the 1790s as the “take-off” period for the industrial revolution. This means that a process previously responding to domestic and other external stimuli began to feed upon itself, and became an unstoppable and irreversible process of sustained industrial and technological expansion.

In the late 18th century and early 19th century a series of technological advances led to the Industrial Revolution. Britain’s position as the world’s pre-eminent trader helped fund research and experimentation. The nation also had some of the world’s greatest reserves of coal, the main fuel of the new revolution.

It was also fuelled by a rejection of mercantilism in favour of the predominance of Adam Smith‘s capitalism. The fight against Mercantilism was led by a number of liberal thinkers, such as Richard CobdenJoseph HumeFrancis Place and John Roebuck.

Some have stressed the importance of natural or financial resources that Britain received from its many overseas colonies or that profits from the British slave trade between Africa and the Caribbean helped fuel industrial investment. It has been pointed out, however, that slave trade and the West Indian plantations provided less than 5% of the British national income during the years of the Industrial Revolution.[45]

The Industrial Revolution saw a rapid transformation in the British economy and society. Previously, large industries had to be near forests or rivers for power. The use of coal-fuelled engines allowed them to be placed in large urban centres. These new factories proved far more efficient at producing goods than the cottage industry of a previous era. These manufactured goods were sold around the world, and raw materials and luxury goods were imported to Britain.