Explain the process of industrialisation in Britain during the 19th century.
THE most dynamic industries in Britain were clearly cotton and metals. Growing at a rapid pace, cotton was the leading sector in the first phase of industrialisation upto the 1840s. Later the iron and steel industry led the way with the expansion of railways in England from the 1840s and in the colonies from 1860s, the demand for iron and steel increased.
The new industries could not displace traditional industries. At the end of 19th century’, less than 20 per cent of the total work force was employed in technologically advanced industrial sector. The pace of change in the ‘traditional’ industries was not set by steam powered cotton or metal industries. Ordinary and small innovations were the basis of growth in many non-merchaised sector such as food processing, building, pottery, glass work, tanning furniture making and production of implements. The technological changes occurred slowly. New technology was expensive and merchants and industrialists were cautious about using it. The machine often broke down and repair was costly.