Manchester: Cradle of the Industrial Revolution

Located in the north west of England, Manchester played a significant role in the Industrial Revolution. It became the first industrialised city in the world and was renowned for its textile work through the nineteenth century – one of the key drivers of the revolution.


This once unknown part of the world grew at a rapid rate, so let’s take a look at the highlights of this era:
World’s first passenger railway

The world’s first twin-track, inter-city passenger railway opened on 15th September 1830 and ran between Liverpool and Manchester. It was designed to transport raw materials, finished goods and passengers from place-to-place and was a convenient alternative to horseback – which had previously been used. Huge tonnages of textile raw material were carried to the north west of England and were used to make the cotton the area was so renowned for.


The Bridgewater Canal
The Bridgewater Canal is often described as England’s first canal and was used to transport coal from the mines in Worsley to the industrial areas of Manchester. It opened on 17th July 1761 and greatly improved the transport routes between cities – helping the factories to operate efficiently. It was named after the third Duke of Bridgewater and was the first canal in Britain to be built without following an existing watercourse.
World’s first steam-driven mill
During the Industrial Revolution, silk, wool, fustian and other traditional materials were being eclipsed by cotton. To improve the production process, Richard Arkwright (one of the UK’s most prolific inventors) opened the world’s first steam-driven textile mill on Miller Street, Manchester. Although it was destroyed in the Manchester Blitz in 1940, it played a significant role and put Manchester on the map for cotton production.
Largest cotton producers
The great majority of cotton spinning took place in south Lancashire and Cheshire and Manchester soon produced more cotton that anywhere else in the world. It was the largest marketplace for cotton goods and was dubbed Cottonopolis and Warehouse City during the Victorian period. Believe it or not, people around the globe still use the term “Manchester” to describe household linen such as pillows and bed spreads.
Despite the achievements of the Industrial Revolution, the era had a dark side. Working conditions were appalling and there were very few laws protecting employees. These days employers are obliged to place safety signs around working areas, but safety rules did not often exist in those day – so many people lost their lives.
The Industrial Revolution will always be remembered as a significant period of time, but many people paid the price.

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