It is a serious issue as to why the Industrial Revolution began in England only. Comparatively, the trade of France was more flourishing than that of England and from a population point of view, France was three times more thickly populated. She also had better resources of raw material and power. However, the Industrial Revolution did not occur in France and its outbreak could be possible on the soil of England due to the following reasons-
The standard of living of the British people was higher than the people of any other country. The better standard of living adds a lot of the benefits of industry. Owing to the excessive purchasing power enjoyed by the English and growth of urban life, the demand for various commodities increased. Great attention was focused on increasing production in order to meet the increasing demand for commodities.
Coal and iron, the two commodities absolutely necessary for the running of an industrial system, were in abundance in the north of England. It was in this area that many industries sprang up and consequently north England emerged as the hub of industrial activity. Here, climate, in addition, was conducive to the development of textile industries.
The appropriate natural and geographical situation also helped the progress of Industrial Revolution in England. England is surrounded by the sea, so the government of England had not to face any problem in constructing ports. The merchants and traders felt no difficulty in importing the raw material and exporting the manufactured goods. The people of England took full advantage of this facility.
England had become a powerful Naval Force in the European continent in the time of Queen Elizabeth. The trade and commerce of England could not be harmed even in the times of war due to her powerful Navy. The merchants of England could carry their goods to any place by the help of the fleets of England. In the same way, the fleets of England helped much in the task of importing. Other countries did not possess such a facility, so the trade and commerce of England flourished a lot. All these facilities encouraged the outbreak of the Industrial Revolution in England.
France exported superfine articles of luxury but England exported different things. It is noteworthy that articles of luxury were precious from a commercial point of view but they could not be manufactured by machines because they required characteristic human skill. Therefore, precious articles of luxury were manufactured in domestic industries by skilled artisans. In addition to it, the demand for luxurious articles remains limited. Unlike France, England manufactured articles which were required in large quantities. England believed that it could expand the market if articles were manufactured at a low cost through a special technique. Therefore, England had determined to adopt a special technique in order to manufacture various commodities in large quantity and at a minimum cost.
England far exceeded the other countries of Europe in terms of political stability. The Glorious Revolution of 1688 led to the overthrow of King James II and established the power of Parliament over the Monarch. This not only freed Great Britian from the whims and fancies of the monarchy but also proved favourable for her economic growth. The traders and manufacturers were given a free hand, who could now do things on their own without much interference from their national government.
In Britian the agriculture revolution prepared the material base for the industrial revolution. The agriculture revolution had already taken place as a result of which English society got greatly transformed. The agriculture revolution ensured the availability of the raw material for the factories. The agricultural labour also migrated to cities which got transformed into the factory workers.
In England there was a growing supply of surplus capital, derived from investments in land and increase in trade and commerce. The English capitalists had enough money to finance new economic enterprises and sustain an industrial revolution. London, the capital of England, soon emerged as the leading centre for the world’s trade. England also had enterprising people who were ready to make investments in new enterprises that were not only risky, but also represented an enormous potential for gain.
There were various such colonies of England in the different parts of the world as helped a lot in the development of industry in England. The raw material was adequately available in these colonies, which was used in the industries of England. Moreover, these colonies had appropriate markets for selling the manufactured goods. As the problem of availability of raw material and difficulty of disposal of the manufactured goods was resolved through the colonies of England, the Industrial Revolution flourished in England rapidly.
The French Revolution and Napoleon’s wars also contributed to the development of the Industrial Revolution in England. During the period of wars, England had to cater to the requirements not only of her own soldiers but also those of her friendly nations. All such demands necessitated improvements in the methods of production. Unemployment spread in England after the end of the war. The only solution for the elimination of unemployment was the development of industries.
Early inventions marked the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in England. Stability in the political and social life and the enterprising spirit of the British people helped in bringing about new inventions. Inventions like flying Shuttle, Spinning Jenny, the Power Loom, the Cotton Gin, the Cylinder Printing and Steam Engine eventually made England the ‘First Industrial Nation’ of the World.
The freedom of movement of goods and people within the country was greatly assisted by a constantly improving transportation system. By the middle of the 18th century, England had already developed an adequate transport infrastructure. First of all, an Engineer of Scotland introduced a scheme of road-making. Later on, it was improved and roads were made all over the country. The heavy articles were transported through water routes. The Duke of Bridgewater introduced a scheme of canals. An Engineer, Brindley helped him in the execution of his scheme. These canals were used for internal trade. The construction of the modern railway system connecting big towns and cities started from the 1830s onwards. Earlier, the railways were wagonways drawn by horses. With the development of stronger rails made of rolled wrought iron and the steam engine, long-distance railways hauled by steam locomotive became possible. The Stockton and Darlington Railway, which opened in 1825, was the world’s first public railway to be drawn completely by a steam locomotive. Without an effective development of the means of transportation, the Industrial Revolution would not have been possible. Raw materials and finished products could be moved more quickly and cheaply than ever before. Improvement in transportation also helped in the dissemination of new ideas.