Before the Industrial Revolution

Before the dawn of the Industrial Revolution Britain was a quite different place to the one that exists today. Industrialisation brought with it new types of roads, trains and many other forms of communications which simply did not exist prior to industrialisation. So before the Industrial Revolution it was very hard to keep in touch with people in other parts of the country. News was spread by travellers or through messengers and goods were distributed largely within the locality in which they were produced.

Travel was very difficult before the industrial Revolution as there was no means of mechanised transport. By the turn of the Twentieth Century this had changed dramatically.

Because it was so hard to move around: and remember, there were no cars, aeroplanes or even tarmac roads, people had to rely upon themselves and their communities to provide the vast majority of the things that they needed. Food was produced locally, agriculture could provide for but a few large commercial towns. Clothing was made locally, making use of animal hides and furs: nylon wasn’t an option and cotton wasn’t imported in large quantities until developments enabled mass production of goods.

Life was, for the bulk of the population, the life of a farmer. By the 18th century the feudal system was long gone, but in it’s place was a system in which the people were as reliant upon each other and their master as before.

In general then, people worked in villages and small towns, working the land and relying upon the local community to provide for them. Some people were fortunate enough to benefit from imported goods which came into ports such as London and Bristol in increasing quantities from the Elizabethan age onwards. What was manufactured was done making use of natural elements. Windmills for example could make the life of a miller easier.

Education was poor, only the rich being catered for by nannies and private tutors. There were of course schools and several universities. These were not for the ordinary man or woman though. Politics was based upon land ownership and military honours won, with women and ordinary men given few rights. Life as a result was a constant battle against famine, a wicked landlord, overwork and sheer bad luck. Industrialisation would change only some of these worries.

Industrial Revolution Homepage  
Before the Industrial RevolutionFamous FactoriesWomen and Children during the Industrial Revolution
MigrationInventions and InventorsThe Workhouse
Life in an Industrial TownIndustrialists and PhilanthropistsRailways and Canals
Working ConditionsDisease in the Industrial RevolutionChartists and the Peoples Charter
LudditesSwing RiotsRebecca Riots
Protests, Riots and Conspiracies of the Industrial Age