The factory system was largely responsible for the rise of the modern city, as large numbers of workers migrated into the cities in search of employment in the factories. Nowhere was this better illustrated than the mills and associated industries of Manchester, nicknamed "Cottonopolis", and arguably the world's first industrial city. For much of the 19th century, production was done in small mills, which were typically water-powered and built to serve local needs. Later each factory would have its own steam engine and a chimney to give an efficient draft through its boiler.
The transition to industrialisation was not without difficulty. For example, a group of English workers known as Luddites formed to protest against industrialisation and sometimes sabotaged factories.
In other industries the transition to factory production was not so divisive. Some industrialists themselves tried to improve factory and living conditions for their workers. One of the earliest such reformers was Robert Owen, known for his pioneering efforts in improving conditions for workers at the New Lanark mills, and often regarded as one of the key thinkers of the early socialist movement.
By 1746, an integrated brass mill was working at Warmley near Bristol. Raw material went in at one end, was smelted into brass and was turned into pans, pins, wire, and other goods. Housing was provided for workers on site. Josiah Wedgwood and Matthew Boulton were other prominent early industrialists, who employed the factory system.
Living conditions during the Industrial Revolution varied from the splendour of the homes of the owners to the squalor of the lives of the workers. Poor people lived in very small houses in cramped streets. These homes would share toilet facilities, have open sewers and would be at risk of damp. Disease was spread through a contaminated water supply. Conditions did improve during the 19th century as public health acts were introduced covering things...
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