Industrial Revolution (IR) was the period between the 18th and 19th century when there were essential changes in the way things were produced or made in agriculture, textile industry, transportation, manufacture and economic policies (Beck, 1999). Industrial Revolution started in England before spreading to other parts of Europe, North America, and to the other parts of the world. The discoveries and inventions of classical historians like Galileo Galilei and Bacon were implemented in this period of Industrial Revolution.

The period of Industrial Revolution was characterized by a substantial increase in supply of both food and raw materials as a result of advancements in agricultural technologies and practices. Overall, production also rose as a result of technological advancements in industrial practices. This further resulted to increase in profits as a result of improvements in trade, both local and foreign. Trade improved as a result of improved road networks and railways services. This period was also characterized by major changes in the way commodities were produced. The commodities were no longer produced manually using the hand; instead they were produced more cheaply and in large quantities in factories by machines. Thus, there was a major shift from manual labour to machines in production (Beck, 1999).

Since many production industries and factories were established in urban centers, there was increased migration of people mainly from the countryside to the urban centers with the aim of looking for jobs and also to improve their standards of living. The industries paid better wages compared to what the citizens used to earn from agriculture in the countryside. In this period, various features of the peoples’ lives were transformed. Most notably was the rapid increase in population and income. Living standards improved and people started to have many children because there was enough income to take care of them. The average world’s per capita income increased over 10-fold and the world’s population increase over 6-fold (Clapham, 1926). Industrial Revolution was therefore, a major part in the world’s history since it marked a major transition from mediocre technologies of production to advanced methods of production.

Innovations and Changes in Agriculture

Agriculture was a basic component to the society in this period as it was the primary source of food, source of raw materials to industries, and it also created jobs to the citizens. Expansion in agriculture meant that there was increased food production to feed the people and also enough raw materials to the industries. In England, wool from the sheep and cotton from the fields were the major raw materials needed by the textile industries (Fogel, 2004).

Various techniques were employed to improve the yields of the agricultural sector. In the earlier days, land was left to lie fallow after constant cultivation with the aim of restoring its fertility. After that came a common practice of cultivating clovers to improve the fertility of the land. Due to increased yields in agriculture, the amount of food for the livestock also increased by default and this expanded the population for the livestock (Fogel, 2004).

Metal tools replaced wooden tools that were previously used in agriculture. Much focus was diverted to maintaining a healthy stock of animals by efficient breeding techniques. Irrigation and efficient farming techniques were employed. Pests and insects were controlled to avoid damage to crops and to the livestock. Horsepower replaced oxen as a source of power for cultivation. Increase in food production which in turn led to increase in population set the foundation to a massive growth of the economy and industries.

The common village fields were enclosed into personal landholdings and the unproductive lands were divided among few individuals and they became private property. Therefore, the ownership of land was focused in the hands of a few people, and this made it possible to engage in large scale farming and also to improve the farming techniques. All this was aimed at increasing food production and increasing raw materials for the industries.

Innovations and Changes in the Textile Industry

In the earlier days, production in the textile industry took place in the homes in small scale levels. It was a wearisome process to transform the raw materials into finished products. Mostly women and children engaged in the textile industry in the homes .In England, for instance, some raw materials such as silk and cotton were not produced locally, so they had to be sourced from foreign countries like China, North America and some parts of Africa (Deane, 2002).

When the Industrial Revolution came with technological change in production, many workers rioted to oppose the change of introducing machines since it would lead to loss of jobs. The flying-shuttle, which was invented by John Kay for weaving, simplified the work for the weavers and therefore, one weaver could do the work which initially was done by two or three people. The roller spinner, which was invented by Lewis Paul for spinning, was a big addition to the textile industry. The roller spinner was later improved by Richard Arkwright (Deane, 2002).

More inventions in the textile industry were done in the mid 17th century. James Hargreaves invented Jenny. It was a machine which could spin a number of threads simultaneously and this increased the speed of production. Another invention was the Water Frame, which was developed by Richard Arkwright. The device was also used for spinning threads but it required much power to operate it, therefore, Arkwright set up his own factory that was mainly powered by water to use this invention. The factory employed at least 600 workers who were mainly composed of women and children since they were paid lower wages as compared to the men (Pat, 1996).

The inventions in the textile industry led to more industries being set up and as a result more workers were employed in these industries. Since the factories were located in urban centers, many people migrated from the countryside to seek for work in these industries. The speed of production was increased since production was simplified by the introduction of machines. Even though the working conditions were not satisfactory, no complaints were made as these industries were not regulated by then (Pat, 1996).

Innovations and Changes in Coal Mining

Coal mining is one of the oldest jobs in history. It is still viewed by many to be a very dangerous job due to the risks involved and the nature of the work. In the earlier days various mining techniques were adopted in different places. In England, the main source of power for coal mining was basically the muscle power, and this was a common source in other parts of the world. Coal mining industry offered jobs to the men, women, and children. The children were preferred for their small sizes because they could enter the narrow tunnels that could not be reached by the grown ups. Sometimes animal power was used to draw the coal out of the tunnels (Green, 1939).

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In the period of Industrial Revolution, there were changes in the coal industry. Ventilation was improved in the tunnels and both the underground and surface transportation of the coal was improved. Gun powder was introduced to blast away the coal seams. Safety lamps were also introduced to provide efficient illumination through the tunnels .All these innovations were aimed at providing easier access to the tunnels and improving the working conditions in the mining industry. The speed of mining the coal increased and a lot of coal was mined within a short time (Hulse, 1999).

Innovations and Changes in the Iron Industry

Just like the other industries, the iron industry was also revolutionized during the Industrial Revolution period. As early as the 18th century, major innovations in the iron industry occurred .In England, coke was used in place of charcoal to smell pig iron. This was because initially charcoal was the main source of energy but its source was depleted due to its widespread use all over. The use of coke, however, came with problems because it produced impure and low quality iron that could not be used to make nice products, but as the industrial Revolution continued, innovations were made that helped to improve the quality of the iron (Green, 1939).

Innovations and Changes in the Transport Industry

The transport industry played a bigger role in the Industrial Revolution. Initially, canals and rivers were the modes of transport. The use of rivers was both expensive and time consuming as it was a slow means of transport. With the construction of canals in the mid 1700s, transportation was revolutionized. Later, trunk lines were constructed and they connected the various industries to the sources of raw materials. It was now quicker to move the raw materials from farms to the industries and also to move the manufactured goods from the factories to the markets (Brown, 1997).

As time progressed, the merchants and industrialists provided money for construction of railroads. The use of railroads eased the transportation of bulky goods and it further increased access to the rural areas which were the source of raw materials. Railroads were later to become a dominant mode of transport in many parts of Europe (Brown, 1997).

Innovations and Changes in Steam Energy

In the earlier days, most industries used coal as the main source of energy. James Watt was very instrumental in the development and adoption of steam power by inventing the steam engine. Steam power is still regarded as the greatest success in the Industrial Revolution era. Steam engine was not only used as a source of energy to the industries, it was also used in the transportation sector as a source of power. The steam engine provided continuous power to the industries and it played a greater role in transforming small industries into large industries.

Changes in Human Aspects during the Industrial Revolution

There was a rapid growth of population in industrial revolution period. Various factors led to this growth of population. The dominant factors included increased production of food, increased birth rate, decrease in disease outbreaks, and decreased death rate. There was increased migration of young people from the countryside to the major towns in search of jobs from the industries. They were paid better wages as compared to what they earned from agriculture in the countryside and this enticed the young people to marry at an early age and have children. People settled around the factories for convenience and also because the factories provided a housing system for the workers. Availability of labour provided a basis for locating factories. Another factor that was considered when locating factories was the source of energy, since by then most of the factories used water as an energy source and were mainly located near hills or rivers (Fogel, 2004).

The increasing migration of the people from rural to urban areas led to development of towns. These towns grew so fast that they became overcrowded. There was little time taken to plan for the growth of towns and eventually, the common resources were overwhelmed. The level of sanitation and disease outbreak deteriorated, especially cholera and typhoid became the order of the day. There was an urgent need to make changes concerning the worsening health conditions. These issues were later addressed (Fogel, 2004).

Capital Source

During the pre-industrialization era, land was considered to be the main source of capital. A person was considered wealthier as per the size of land he owned. This all changed during the Industrial Revolution era where a person was considered wealthy by the number of industries, factories or machinery he owned. The industry and machinery owners contributed a lot towards the growth of the Industrial Revolution (Green, 1939).

In the early 18th century, many people invested in agriculture as a means of creating wealth. The industry owners on the other hand, invested in businesses that were in line with their productions but as the amount of their profits increased, they resorted to invest in other fields which were not related to their line of production. The industrial capitalists required short term capital to acquire raw materials and long term capital to stretch their industries (Hartwell, 2003).

A major problem in the Industrial Revolution era was the lack of efficient and adequate banking facilities to cater for the many needs of the industry owners. Later toward the 19th century, stable banks emerged and the financial needs of the people were met.


The working conditions in the industries were worse. There was much noise pollution in the factories, dust, poor ventilation, poor lighting and sometimes lower wages. Thus, the factories posed a greater health risk to the workers. In England, Factory Acts were enacted by the parliament to safeguard the interests of the workers. The workers began to form trade unions so as to express their outcries in one voice. Workers therefore, were able to negotiate for better wages and improved conditions in the workplace.


Industrial Revolution was a major part in history for the world as the outdated technologies of production gave way to advanced technologies. It was characterized by high food production that led to the rapid growth of population. There was increase in migration to the urban centers in search of jobs and better lives. The population growth in towns led to the degradation of the common resources that deteriorated the standards of living. Major inventions and innovations took place in this era, and this increased the speed of production and eased the work load.

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