Britain had a significant share in the overall industrial revolution and innovation that occurred in the 18th century. A lot of things and facilities that were discovered in the 18th century originated in Britain…
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First, there were natural reasons like richness in the natural resources. Secondly, changes in the kingdom, power and autonomy also made the environment more favorable for innovation and creativity in the Britain. The two aspects are discussed below: Natural and political reasons favoring innovation in 18th century Britain: Britain saw such a large industrial revolution because she was rich in three commodities in particular which were iron, coal and water. Britain was able to use the water in her mountainous districts in order to drive the mills that were very important in the initial period of industrialization. “..the rivers, amplified from 1761 by a developing network of canals, facilitate inland transport in an age where roads are only rough tracks” (History World 1). Also, Britain was equipped with such a wonderful access to sea that goods could be transported through sea between the coastal areas without any inconvenience. Britain was able to make full use of its iron ores because of the technological advancements made particularly by the Darby family in the 18th century. In the later half of the 18th century, Britain was equipped with the steam power with the hard work of Boulton and Watt. “The first Boulton and Watt engine was completed in 1776” (Weissenbache 202). Because of the discovery of steam power, the wide spread resources of coal gained extreme importance in Britain. The 1688 revolution resulted in immense changes that paved way for the contributions of Matthew Boulton and Abraham Darby on the political side of the story. There was a considerable decline in the royal power in Britain after 1688. As a result of this, middle class gained strength and surfaced in Britain very rapidly and forcefully. The middle class was eager to gain more money and power, and therefore, resolved to achieve the strength through inventions, innovation and enhancement in the mechanical side. One evidence of rise in the strength of middle class is Richard Arkwright, who came from a very poor background and gained a lot of wealth through his contributions in the innovation in Britain. In addition to the innovation supportive circumstances happening within Britain, Britain also facilitated the process by involving other countries in it and supporting them in any way she could. Britain offered the budding businessmen and entrepreneurs a very big and rich market to dwell in. Fortunately, England removed differences with Scotland and united with Scotland in 1707. Their internal tariff barriers were removed and the trade was promoted. American colonies were provided by Britain with frequent opportunities of trade. Later, Britain opened trade with India on a large scale. Industrial revolution in Britain was facilitated largely by increased control of Britain over the seas in the same century. “Much of the profitable carrying trade in the world's commerce can be secured for British merchant vessels” (History World 1). Although there were large resources of iron in Britain, it could not use it to the full capacity because iron required charcoal in huge quantities in order to be smelted. Charcoal was very costly for Britain and she had to look out for other means of smelting iron so as to make the process more profitable and cost effective. It continued to be like this until 1709, when Abraham Darby discovered that charcoal can be replaced by coke in order to smelt the pig iron (Dickinson 131). Since then, coke has been used to smelt iron. It was cost-effective and fulfilled the purpose. This way, Britain’
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