What technical and social changes occurred in the textile industry in England in the late 18th and early 19th century that warrants it to be called ‘a revolution’?
The textile industry revolution that evolved in the late 18th century in Western Northern England warrants itself to be called a revolution due to it’s social and technical impact on the society at that time. The revolutionary methods of production of textile goods have began to heavily depend on machinery, rather than human power. Such drastic changes have resulted in a global urbanization which has originated in Western England and rapidly spread across the world, involving a development of various new systems, such as the transportation system, the system of wages, the sewage and even a new systematic approach to the way buildings were built.
Originally, the process of making clothes has required a large amount of time due to the clothes being made in people’s homes by one spinster. Many different time consuming tasks had to be carried out before a fabric was ready to be sewn. Wool was mainly used to manufacture from due to it’s low cost as sheep could easily be bred in the cold climate of the Northern Hemisphere, while cotton was only worn by very few wealthier people. Before the revolution, the wool had to be spun on a Spinning Jenny and following that, woven. Only after the two processes were carried out, the fabric could then be sewn into a piece of clothe that was uncomfortable and unpleasant to wear. As times progressed, people have attempted using horse power instead of human power to complete the tasks which too, resulted in being inefficient and time consuming. Next step to the production of textile evolution was the switch to use of water power which provided the necessary efficiency, speed and cost to the manufacture, however has disabled people from an option of choice of location as factories then had to be located next to a river.
This has resulted in rapid and severe water pollution which has then lead to a greater spread of disease. Finally, steam power, a source of energy using coal, was invented and was then used for the process of manufacture. Factories operated on steam power which allowed them to choose their location, provided necessary speed and efficiency and provided the option of mass production which allowed people to have more than one or two pieces of clothes overall. This huge leap in technology has too had it’s negative impacts. As factories burnt coal, large amounts of smoke had to be released and thus air pollution was an issue that has risen very quickly. On the other hand, however the mechanization of the process that increased the speed by thousands of times was extremely useful in comparison to the same process being done manually. Thus such extravagant shift of technology entirely warrants the textile industry to be called a revolution.
On top of all the great technological changes to the system of production, in no time people’s lives were radically changed too. Instead of spending all their time working at home, peasants have switched to spending all of their time working in factories with much poorer working conditions that included rude staff, noise and air pollution, boring de-motivating tasks and no flexibility with time. The life in the city was completely new to them thus managing wages that they have never been aware of before was too, unusual and extremely hard .The distortion of the lifestyle was truly revolutionary as peasants that lived far from factories had to take their families and move into residential homes with poor living conditions that were located next door to the factory that they worked at.
By doing so, peasants were automatically made into citizens of large polluted noisy cities in comparison to the quite small and family-like villages that they resided in before. This structural planning to the cities have resulted in the beginning of commuting which lead to buses taking workers from the country side to factories and thus was the start to the system of public transportation. Such a drastic improvement to the way people have moved around which was initially sparked by the textile industry indeed warrants this to be called a revolution. Overall, the technical and social changes that occurred in the textile industry in England in the late 18th and 19th centuries have changed the world and were the basis to our daily twenty first century norms and therefore the textile industry fully warrants itself to be a great revolution.