Early Industrialization and Mechanization

Many of the great feats of manufacturing during the Industrial Revolution in England were made possible by the availability of new technologies that vastly expedited the formerly slow, tedious process of textile manufacturing. Inventions such as John Watt’s steam engine and the Arkwright water frame contributed greatly to the massively increased levels of productivity and general economic expansion of the time period. These inventions were themselves made possible by the evolving economic mindset sparked by Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations.

John Watt, driven by this experimental mindset, took it upon himself to improve upon the preexisting Newcomen engine in order to produce steam power at a greatly increased rate and efficiency. This new steam engine, patented in 1769, reduced operation costs and, as a result, became widespread in factory contexts across England.

In addition, the Arkwright water frame, also patented in 1769, contributed to the expedition of textile manufacturing by improving the speed at which threads could be spun using water power. The frames also did not require skilled laborers, allowing factories to hire larger quantities of cheap, unskilled laborers, further decreasing factory operation costs.

The rapid technological advancements during the Industrial Revolution should, however, not be seen as an instigator of the economic growth of the period. Instead, they should be viewed as a direct effect of a changing economic mindset that provided greater incentives for experimenting with the manufacturing process.



“A History of the World – Object : Arkwright’s Water Frame Spinning Machine.” BBC, BBC, 2014, www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/objects/RyHIgvgsSeCYGZRl4Ep5RQ.
“Industrial Revolution.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2 May 2017, www.britannica.com/event/Industrial-Revolution.
Trinder, Barrie Stuart. Britain’s Industrial Revolution : The Making of a Manufacturing People, 1700-1870. First ed. Lancaster: Carnegie Publishing, 2013.

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