The Industrial Revolution

Henry Dale and Rodney Dale



 One of eight Discoveries & Inventions series for the British Library

Below are a few examples of the Industrial Revolution…



Animal Power

Animal power — oxen on a sloping treadwheel driving a mill.

At the beginning of the 18th century there were three principal sources of power: wind, water and animal (including human). But all three had drawbacks.

Animal power was expensive – large powerful animals had to be fed and maintained, and their output wasn't very great. Furthermore they could not be driven indefinitely and had to be watered and rested.




Iron Bridge

The Iron Bridge across the River Severn between Benthall and Madeley Wood (now Ironbridge) was opened to traffic on New Year's Day 1781. Designed and built by a team led by Abraham Darby III (1750-1791), it consisted entirely of iron members cast in open sand moulds at the Coalbrookdale works. No bolts or rivets were used in the construction; the parts were wedged together or held with dovetail joints. This, the world's first iron bridge, still stands and is now used by pedestrians visiting the Ironbridge Gorge Museum.

The bridge has a total length of 196 feet (59.7 m), a span of 100 feet 6 inches (30.6 m) and a rise of 50 feet (15.2 m). The five main cast-iron ribs, each cast in two pieces and weighing 5 3/4 tons with masonry abutments, support a carriageway 24 feet (7.3 m) carried on open sand-cast iron plates 2 1/2 inches (63 mm) thick. The total weight of cast iron in the bridge is 378.5 tons.




A Weaving Shed

 An early 19th-century powered weaving shed — each girl attends two looms

One of the first industries in Britain to benefit from the climate of development – and, indeed, feed it with ideas and demands – was the textile industry. It was transformed from a hearthside cottage industry to a powerful national activity, with factories based in growing towns such as Manchester, and with ports such as Liverpool developing to shift raw materials and products in and out of the country.





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