Interesting Facts about the Industrial Revolution

The modern world as we know it today would not have been possible without the Industrial Revolution. This was a major era in history that one might define as the changing process from an agrarian economy to an industrial one focused on manufacturing.

This revolution started in Great Britain around the middle of the 18th century and then spread through Europe. The business world we have right now wouldn’t have been possible without such a movement, so we should strive to know more about it.

Below are some interesting facts about this time that many may not be aware of:

The Cotton Trade

With the cotton trade, the Industrial Revolution would probably never have come into being. Cotton textiles became quite popular in Britain in the mid-17th century. This was due to the East India Company coming into the Indus Valley and sending cotton back to their home country.

Cotton was cheap, strong, and easy to color or wash than the usual wool and linen the English were used to. However, Britain couldn’t produce high-quality cotton of its own due to climate and manpower limitations. Hence, they traded with other countries, including the Southern United States and India, for the raw material. India, however, soon because a victim of political control by the British and was forced to become an exporter of raw cotton. Before that, India had the largest cotton industry at the time.

Eventually, innovations like the water frame, steam engine, and the spinning jenny made Britain get further without having to use much labor. Hence, the small country became a leading textile producer.


Other than cotton, the coal industry was also a major instrument in leading the world towards the Industrial Revolution. Before the discovery and use of this fossil fuel, wood was the main energy source in Britain. It was soon found that coal could perform three times better than ordinary timber. With the growing population and demand, it was evident that the country needed to produce more coal as quickly as possible.

Coal mines actually presented a flood risk if they got too deep. In order to pump the water out, the steam engine was found handy. This enabled Britain to have a supply of coal in much larger quantities than before.


There are several reasons why the Industrial Revolution would have started in Britain, of all places. There was the necessity to produce more goods in a more automated and reliable manner, for one. There was also a colonial influence, as British power wanted to keep other areas downtrodden. Taking the latter’s raw materials, turning them into finished goods, and selling them back for high prices was just another tool of colonization.

The scientific temperament of that time is also not to be ignored. British inventors had started work on spinning machines and several other types of innovations that would enhance the country’s trade. These were the most lucrative kinds of inventions and eventually led to the industrialization of other countries as well.

The Superpower

Colonization had been a trademark for many European countries until the Industrial Revolution. However, the revolution gave the British in particular more power that they used to edge out their competition. One of these advantages, of course, was the increased wealth the country gained after the advancements in their technology.

In the century after the Industrial Revolution, then, the British gained a huge empire that spread through several parts of the world. This empire included India, Australia, Canada, certain parts in Africa, and the Americas. Even now, the effects of colonialism are still in place, affecting several aspects of modern lives and giving rise to literature genres, movies, and books.


Before the Industrial Revolution, most societies were agrarian. This means that around 80 percent of the population, even in Britain, worked in the agricultural and animal husbandry sector. The industrial part of life was relegated to cottage industries that were mostly small setups at home.

When the revolution came around, many inventions such as the Chinese plough reduced the number of laborers needed on farms. Factories also started using machines that were powered using steam, coal, or water. This led to a surplus of workers, who then migrated to industrial towns, forming the basis of the modern cities we know today. This was a stark contrast and change, especially for those workers who were once only familiar with country life.

Socialism and Marxism

The shift of the agrarian to the industrial was on such a large scale that it also gave rise to political movements. This started with the government favoring wealthy people when the Industrial Revolution had just started. However, the common man soon realized that they were being exploited at the hands of the wealthy class. Social tension soon escalated and gave rise to the concept of socialism. This is a theory that advocates everyone as equal and having a fair share in the wealth of a country.

Karl Marx was among the most well-known socialist thinker. He was also a philosopher and economist. He critiqued and studied the capitalist system in the years during the Industrial Revolution, thus shaking up its very base. Hence, Communism and Marxism also came into being. However, their lack of success has made them widely rejected all over the world as economic models.

Child Labor

The Industrial Revolution had several dark sides, one of the worst being that of child labor and its exploitation. The nimble fingers and small bodies of children made them perfect for crawling into tight spaces in coal mines, weaving fine cloth, and cleaning factory machinery. Children worked very long hours and were used for the most dangerous tasks within industries. Around 20% of all the laborers in the British textile industry were below 15 at that time.

There were gradual reforms with regard to child labor, but these were slow. Even the minor relief by the Factory Act in 1833 wasn’t much, only limiting the hours of children instead of making them at least reasonable. In order to make sure the new policies were being followed, only four factory inspectors were appointed for the several thousand factories in England. While this was a disappointing start, factory acts managed to get a little better over the years.


The Industrial Revolution was more than just a movement from one kind of economy to another. It was a worldwide process that affected several aspects of daily lives, both in countries that started it and the countries that experienced it later on. Even our social and cultural lives were affected and changed irreversibly.