Human society has passed through two huge and lasting changes which deserve the name revolution. The first, the Neolithic Revolution, begins in 8000 BC and continues through thousands of years. Its effect is to settle people on the land. It makes peasant agriculture the standard everyday activity of the human species. The second, the Industrial Revolution, gathers pace in the 18th century and is still developing today. It moves people from the countryside into rapidly expanding towns. It turns labour into a disciplined and mainly indoor activity, with an increasing distinction between owners, employers and managers on one side and workers on the other. Industrialization brings preliminary evils of exploitation, pollution and urban squalor, together with longer-term benefits in a general rise of living standards. Britain's industrial advantages: 18th century AD
Country has in abundance three important commodities - water, iron and coal. Water in Britain's numerous hilly districts provides the power to drive mills in the early stages of industrializaton; the rivers, amplified from 1761 by a developing network of canals, facilitate inland transport in an age where roads are only rough tracks; and the sea, never far from any part of Britain, makes transport of heavy goods easy between coastal cities. Ironmasters of Coalbrookdale: 18th century AD
In 1709 Abraham Darby, an ironmaster with a furnace at Coalbrookdale on the river Severn, discovers that coke can be used instead of charcoal for the smelting of pig iron (used for cast-iron products). This Severn region becomes Britain's centre of iron production in the early stages of the Industrial Revolution. Its pre-eminence is seen in the Darby family's own construction of the first iron bridge, and in the achievements of John Wilkinson. Kay's flying shuttle: AD 1733
In 1733 John Kay, son of the owner of a Lancashire woollen factory, patents the first of the devices...