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The Pace of Industrial Change

Cotton and Metal Industries :-

  • The most dynamic industries in Britain were cotton and metals.
  • The cotton industry grew at a rapid pace during the first phase of industrialisation, up to the 1840s.
  • From the 1840s to the 1860s the iron and steel industry started expanding with the expansion of the railways.
  • As the demand for the metals increased the industry also flourished.
  • By 1873 Britain was exporting iron and steel worth about £ 77 million, double the value of its cotton export.

Iron & Steel factory

The unshakable Traditional Industries :-

  • The new industries could not easily displace the traditional industries.
  • Less than 20 per cent of the total workforce only was employed in technologically advanced industrial sectors, till the end of the 19th century.
  • A large portion of the Textile production was done in domestic units and not in factories.

The slow change in the Traditional Industries

  • The ‘traditional’ industries did not remain stagnant.
  • Growth in the traditional Industries was due to small innovations.
  • In many non-mechanised sectors like food processing, building, pottery, glass work, tanning, furniture making, and production of tools small innovations were the basis of growth.

Traditional Industries

The slow pace of technological changes and its reasons :-

  • Technological changes occurred slowly.
  • They did not spread dramatically across the industrial landscape because new technology was expensive and merchants and industrialists were cautious about using it.
  • The machines were not effective and they broke down often and repair was costly.
  • Even the most powerful new technology that enhanced the productivity of the labourer was not easily accepted by industrialists.
  • So, a typical worker in the mid-nineteenth century was not a machine operator but the traditional craftsperson and labourer.

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