British Industrial Revolution

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The British Industrial Revolution (1760-1840) brought innovative mechanisation and deep social change. The process saw the invention of steam-powered machines, which were used in factories in ever-growing urban centres. Agriculture remained important, but cotton textiles became Britain's top export, capital replaced land as an indicator of wealth, and the labour force diversified to include many more women and children.

More about: British Industrial Revolution


  • 1698
    The steam pump is patented by Thomas Savery.
  • 1709
    The first working coke blast furnace is used at the Coalbrookdale works in Shropshire.
  • 1710
    Thomas Newcomen develops an improved steam pump.
  • 1733
    The flying shuttle is invented by John Kay.
  • 1737
    The winnowing machine is invented by Andrew Rogers.
  • 1760 - 1840
    The Industrial Revolution in Britain.
  • 1764
    The spinning jenny is invented by James Hargreaves.
  • 1769
    James Watt patents his development of the steam engine.
  • 1769
    The waterframe is invented by Richard Arkwright.
  • 1770
    The marine chronometer is invented by John Harrison.
  • 1779
    The spinning mule is invented by Samuel Crompton.
  • 1781
    The first cast iron bridge is opened. It crosses the River Severn in Shropshire, England.
  • 1784
    James Watt and Matthew Boulton perfect their development of the steam engine.
  • 1785
    The power loom is invented by Edmund Cartwright.
  • 1787
    The first steam-powered threshing machine is invented by Andrew Meikle.
  • 1794 - 174
    The cotton gin is invented by Eli Whitney.
  • 1806 - 1859
    Life of the British engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
  • 1807
    Frederick Albert Winsor successfully demonstrates gas street lighting in London.
  • 1811 - 1816
    The Luddites, who smashed textile machines, are active in Britain.
  • 1818
    The milling machine is invented.
  • 1821
    Michael Faraday discovers the principles of an electric motor.
  • 1824
    Portland cement, a fast-setting cement, is invented by Joseph Aspdin.
  • 1825 - 1843
    Construction of the Thames Tunnel.
  • 1825
    The self-acting mule is invented by Richard Roberts.
  • 27 Sep 1825
    The Locomotion 1 train invented by George Stephenson (1781-1848) transports the first railway passengers from Stockton to Darlington.
  • 1829
    Isambard Kingdom Brunel submits four designs for Clifton Suspension Bridge, one is accepted.
  • Oct 1829
    Stephenson's Rocket locomotive wins the Rainhill Trials to become the engine for the Liverpool to Manchester railway line.
  • 1830 - 1832
    The Swing Riots sees agricultural machines smashed in Britian.
  • 1837
    William Fothergill Cook and Charles Wheatstone first patent the electrical telegraph.
  • 1837
    The telegraph machine is invented by William Fothergill Cook and Charles Wheatstone.
  • 1838
    The Great Western Railway line from Bristol to London opens.
  • 1838
    Isambard Kingdom Brunel's steamship SS Great Western is launched.
  • 1839
    The steam hammer is invented by James Nasmyth.
  • 1840
    The Temple Meads railway station in Bristol, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, opens.
  • 1841
    The railway line connecting London to Birmingham opens.
  • 19 Jul 1843
    Isambard Kingdom Brunel's steamship SS Great Britain is officially launched at Bristol.
  • 24 May 1844
    Samuel Morse uses his morse code electrical telegraph for the first time.
  • 1845
    The railway line from London to Manchester opens.
  • May 1851 - 15 Oct 1851
    The Great Exhibition is held in London's Crystal Palace.
  • 1854
    Paddington Station in London, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, opens.
  • 1856
    the Bessemer converter is invented by Henry Bessemer.
  • 1858
    Isambard Kingdom Brunel's steamship SS Great Eastern is launched.
  • Jun 1860
    SS Great Eastern makes its maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York.
  • 1866
    The SS Great Eastern lays the first transatlantic electrical telegraph cable.
  • 1873
    Laws of electromagnetism defined by James Clerk Maxwell.