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Before the Industrial Revolution

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Before the Industrial Revolution - Lesson Summary

Industrialization did not exactly begin with industries and machines. The early industrialisation phase, also known as proto industrialisation paved the way for modern industrial economies.

In the 17 th and 18 th centuries, several merchants in Europe shifted their production to the countryside and persuaded peasants and artisans to produce for an international market. Open fields and common land were fast disappearing and peasants were desperately looking for alternate sources of income, so they readily agreed.

The proto industrial times involved a lot of workers who worked from their homes and not in factories. By the 1730s though factories began developing in Britain, they actually expanded in the late 18 th century. Cotton was the first industry to grow in Britain. The invention of the cloth mill by Richard Arkwright brought a revolution to cloth production by bringing together the scattered processes under one single roof. Iron and steel was the next industry to flourish.

With the expansion of the railway network in Britain as well as in the colonies, there was a huge demand for iron and steel. Even at the end of the 19 th century most textile production happened through domestic units.

Despite many small industries had begun using some technology in their processes, industrialists were still hesitant about the new machines due to their high repair and maintenance cost, so the shift to machines was a gradual and slow process.

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