The Impact Of The Steam Engine On British Industrialization

The industrial revolution transformed the British agricultural society to an industrial one. The revolution which occurred in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century transformed the face of Renaissance by supplementing it with machinery and industry. The ground basis for the industrial revolution were laid by the explores of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries who brought back precious metals which aided in the establishment of industry and the development of a money economy.

Wood had been the early fuel for industry but as demand for increased goods soared in the late 18th century, the steam engine came into use and coal replaced wood. The steam engine developed by James Watt in 1769 marked a turn point in the industrial revolution as steam was an effective mode of power which led to the proliferation of British industry.

As the development of the steam engine progressed, increased quantities of coal were extracted from mines. The presence of coal and iron changed the fate of British industry. In the following years, a number of factories, towns, canals and roads were formed. The creation of the rail road and steamship widened the British market for goods. Dramatic changes took place in the economic and social structures of Britain which paved way for novel technological advancements and inventions. Farmers were integrated into the new labour force and economy became highly specialized. By 1900, engineers, including Matthew Boulton, further progressed the development of the steam engine which aided to improve core industries such as metalwork and textile. Towards the end of the century, one manufacturer produced over 33000 steam engines. The new unprecedented version of the steam engine paved way for an agricultural revolution in Britain during the 1870’s and allowed thousands of ploughing and traction machines to operate on a wide scale. Hence, the steam engine altered the British Industry and nation for once and for all.

Despite these rapid improvements brought about by the steam engine, which supplemented the industrial revolution, the increase in urban population brought about serious consequences for Britain. Britain could never produce enough to feed the proliferating population. During the 1865 and 1900, imports including wheat increased dramatically. Such food imports encouraged free trade policies, and had significant effect on British agriculture when farm labour dropped by half.

The burgeoning increase in steam engine also raised the demand for coal. In the early nineteenth century, new coal mines were dug up in south Wales with the help of new mining techniques and machinery. The number of miners quickly soared and coal extraction augmented from 80 million to 225 million. More than a quarter of this amount was exported which made coal one tenth of all British exports.

Hence, the steam engine marked the beginning of a new era in British history. The creation of the steam engine propelled the industrial revolution in Britain and expanded British exports and imports. The demand for British goods in the international marked spurred and resulted in the increased influence of Britain on the world’s economy and development.