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The expansion of the governments role in britain during the industrial revolution

Products were no longer made in cottage industries but as manufacturing took place on a vast scale in city factories. Steam-powered trains moved people and products across Britain in a fraction of the time taken by road or by canal. By the end of the 18th century, Britain was the most advanced country in Europe. The 19th century saw the spread of the Industrial Revolution.

Other European countries acquired the tools and skills needed to revolutionise their economies. The United States also underwent an industrial revolution in the 19th century.

See image 1 There were a number of ways that industrialism spread.


Transmission could occur on a one-to-one basis, one worker training another. Often, governments organised study tours for engineers and scientists.

A study tour would travel to another country to learn about industry and technology. When the study tour returned to the home country, new techniques were implemented.

Information about new technologies and techniques were often published in journals. Engineers and scientists could study these publications and implement new ideas.

The Industrial Revolution experience was different for each country around the world, depending upon the political and social situation, natural resources and enthusiasm of the people.

Many European countries eagerly embarked on the Industrial Revolution. British experts often travelled to other European countries to encourage industrial development.

  1. Often, governments organised study tours for engineers and scientists.
  2. When World War One broke out many women took jobs normally undertaken by men.
  3. Much of British industry had failed to modernise and many factories were slow to use electricity.
  4. Throughout the nineteenth century a series of Factory Acts had regulated conditions for workers in factories. The 1870 Education Act commonly named after its author W.

The Industrial Revolution took a different course in each European country, depending upon the political and social situation and access to natural resources. See image 2 Industrialism in France was delayed by the political upheaval of the French Revolution and the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte in the late 18th century. France did not have a good source of coal, which also hindered industrial development.

The British Industrial Revolution had seen the mechanisation of almost all industries and trades. In France, the economy relied on handmade items. The government protected these industries. See image 3 The French government played a major role in the French industrial revolution.

The Peel Web

In the 19th century, French roads and railway systems were greatly improved. Although France never rivalled Britain as an industrial centre, the Industrial Revolution improved the French economy. The Industrial Revolution in Prussia present-day Germany took place long after Britain, in the mid-19th century.

The Prussian government, like the French government, played an important role in protecting local industries, while encouraging large-scale development. See image 4 The region of Prussia and the surrounding German states were rich in iron and coal resources. The German government developed iron and steel manufacturing companies. Effective transportation and communication allowed German companies to grow powerful and prosperous. By the late 19th century, Germany was a great industrial power.

In Russia, the Industrial Revolution took place at the end of the 19th century. There were a number of obstacles facing Russia's industrial development. The Tsar king of Russia decided the future of Russia. Some Tsars were interested in improving Russia's economy, others were not.

Russia was a large country dependent upon agriculture. Russia's agricultural sector, however, was poorly managed. See image 5 In the late 19th century, European engineers, scientists and experts were invited to Russia to oversee industrial development. An increase in the production of coal in the Ukraine and oil in the Caucasus promoted massive economic growth.

The spread of the Industrial Revolution

Iron, chemical, engineering, petroleum and steel industries were established within ten years. Industrialisation in each country had different social results. For Germany, economic power encouraged imperialist ambitions in the government, eventually leading to war. For Russia, social and economic inequalities led to social revolution. The American government wanted independence from Britain. The American people believed that independence could only be achieved if America was economically strong.

Encouraged by the prospect of political independence, the Americans enthusiastically pursued industrialisation. A number of associations and groups were created to encourage manufacturing and industry.

America was a large country, rich in natural resources and there was a large internal market for products. Transportation and communication were two major obstacles for America. Railways and the invention of Morse code eventually overcame problems in transportation and communication.

  1. Russia was a large country dependent upon agriculture.
  2. Several industrial towns that were previously unrepresented were given MPs. Iron, chemical, engineering, petroleum and steel industries were established within ten years.
  3. In 1913 the suffragette Emily Davison tried to stop the Derby horserace by running onto the track just as the horses came round Tattenham Corner. Often, governments organised study tours for engineers and scientists.
  4. Education The provision of education in England was improved greatly by a series of laws that made a basic education available to all children. These reforms were resisted by the Conservative dominated House of Lords.

The United States was seen as a 'land of opportunity'. Like Britain, it was possible to rise from poverty to riches through industrial business. For businessmen, social mobility was easy. European specialists were attracted to the United States by the idea of great profit.

Reform in Britain 1870-1914

Mechanisation was very fast. By the end of the 19th century, the United States led the world in manufacturing and industry. The United States had the largest and most productive economy in the world.