The Industrial Revolution changed the way things were made as new machines invented in the 1700s and 1800s meant it was possible to mass produce goods in factories. Starting in Britain and spreading through Europe and North America, a period of rapid social and economic change began, with widespread URBANIZATION.
During the 18th century, water was an important source of power for industry, and many machines were driven by waterwheels. Steam power was also developed at this time. Steam engines were used to pump water out of mine shafts and to power new TRANSPORTATION systems. Engines and furnaces were all fueled by coal. By the 19th century, coal was being transported to the factories by ship or rail.
Before the Industrial Revolution, most goods were produced in small workshops or at home. Mass production in factories made it possible to manufacture goods more cheaply and quickly. Huge markets for these goods were opening up in the new cities, and in the lands that the European nations were conquering and settling overseas.
The factory age meant that workers no longer owned the means by which they made a living. Some factory owners pushed up their own profits by pushing down the wages of their workers. Men, women, and children worked long hours for little pay, often in dangerous conditions. It took many years for wages and working environments to improve.
Brunel was born of a French father in Portsmouth, England. An engineering genius, he helped to shape the industrial age. He built tunnels, docks, and suspension bridges. He was appointed chief engineer of England’s Great Western Railway and also designed steamships for crossing the Atlantic Ocean.
The Industrial Revolution depended on transportation to move materials, goods, and people. Canals were dug in the 18th century. In the 19th, it was the turn of the railroads.
Urbanization means the spread of towns. Between 1700 and 1900 the world’s population grew from 679 million to 1.633 billion. Many people were city-dwellers.