Timeline 5


Heating The Thirteenth Century

1201 - 1300

Coal was mined in Europe, East Asia, and North America. According to the McNeills, “Song China had used [coal] on a large scale in its iron industry. London had burned coal for home heating from at least the thirteenth century.”

The Steam Engine by Thomas Savery


One innovation that many historians point to as being the catalyst — cause — for the Industrial Revolution is the invention of the steam engine in 1698 by Thomas Savery, an English engineer.

The Steam Machines

1698 - 1825

The steam engine was first used to pump water out of coal mines. However, after years of improving upon the invention, it was eventually adapted and used for tugboats (1736), paddleboats (1788), steamships (1814), and railroad engines (1825). Obviously, the steam engine helped to make transportation more efficient, but it was also used to transform the textile industry.

Steam-Powered Spinning Jenny

Approx. 1700

In the mid-1700s the first machine that could turn raw cotton into thread was created. (It was called the steam-powered spinning jenny). This machine could produce as much thread in three hours as an expert spinner could produce in 50 hours by hand, and for a lot less money.

Leader of Production

1701 - Approx. 1900

We know, though, that by the late eighteenth century and through the nineteenth century, Great Britain became the leader in the production and trade of manufactured goods.

Industrial Revolution Begins

1701 - 1901

Yet, the Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain it happened in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Manufacturing Output


China 32.8%
India 24.5%
Europe (not including Great Britain) 21.2%
Asia (not including China and India) 12.7%
America and Africa 6.8%
Great Britain 2.0%

Global Shift

1750 - 1914

Between 1750 and 1914, there was a global shift in how goods were manufactured. To some extent, these changes happened across the world — from Europe and the Americas to Asia. During this 164-year period, each of these regions became much more industrialized.

seven million acres of land

1760 - 1815

According to historian John Merriman, between 1760 and 1815, 3,600 acts or laws by England's Parliament "enclosed more than seven million acres of land, more than one-fourth of the farmlands in England.” (361) This meant that all of this land was removed from public access and use and taken over by private individuals.

Age Old Access


Merriman also notes that after 1760, “The poorest members of the rural community lost their age-old access to lands on which they had gleaned (collected) firewood, gathered nuts and berries, and grazed animals. Before enclosure, it was said, a 'cottager' was a laborer with land; after enclosure, he was a laborer without land.” (361) It was these landless laborers who would eventually become the workers of the Industrial Revolution.

Steam Loom

1785 - 1835

Then in 1785 the first steam-powered loom was invented. At first it made a
coarse, uncomfortable fabric that was not very desirable. That would soon change, and quickly. By 1797, there were more than 900 cotton mills operating in Great Britain. By 1835, there were more than 106,000 steam-powered looms.

Hands Down

1800 - 1835

Between 1800 and 1835, the wages of hand-loom weavers had dropped by 60 percent.

Buckets of coal


50 million tons of coal burned in 1850.

King of Cotton


The majority of Great Britain’s cotton came from the American South. In 1861, just before the U.S. Civil War, Great Britain purchased more than half of the cotton the American South produced. (Pomerantz and Topik, 230) Great Britain bought cotton from Egypt and India, too, knowing the Civil War would disrupt trans-Atlantic trade. The mills in Britain needed raw cotton to keep working.