‘a great or rapid change which destroys what went before, and replaces it with something better

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When did the Industrial Revolution happen?

A revolution is usually defined as ‘a great or rapid change which destroys what went before, and replaces it with something better’.
Historians talk about an Industrial Revolution in Britain. The following activities will help you to decide when this revolution occurred.

  1. Look carefully at the individuals and their inventions/achievements below. In one colour, shade the one you think was most important at the time, and in another colour, shade the one you think is still the most important today.

KEY: Most important at the time Most important today

  1. Draw a timeline from 1700 to 1850. Using the information in the boxes below, mark onto the timeline the invention/achievement and when it happened.

Individual: Josiah Wedgwood

Profession: Pottery manufacturer

Achievement: Founded the Etruria Works, a modern factory which ran for 180 years

Date: 1769

Individual: Abraham Darby I

Profession: Ironmaker

Achievement: First person to use coke to make iron, producing the finest iron of the time

Date: 1709

Individual: Abraham Darby III

Profession: Ironmaker

Achievement: Built the first iron bridge

Date: 1779

Individual: Robert Owen

Profession: Textile manufacturer

Achievement: Made sure his workers at the New Lanark Mill were treated well

Date: 1800-1825

Individual: Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Profession: Engineer

Achievement: Built Great Western Railway from London to Bristol and steamships such as the Great Western and the SS Great Britain

Date: 1833-1843

Individual: Richard Arkwright

Profession: Cotton spinner

Achievement: First successful cotton manufacturer who built the first water-powered mill

Date: 1771

Individual: Thomas Newcomen

Profession: Engineer

Achievement: Built first atmospheric steam engine

Date: 1712

Individual: Thomas Telford

Profession: Road, bridge and canal builder

Achievement: Built the longest suspension bridge of the time (Menai Straits), and over 1,000 miles of road

Date: 1819-1826

Individual: James Brindley

Profession: Engineer and canal builder

Achievement: Designed and built the Grand Trunk Canal

Date: 1760s

Individual: Francis Egerton

Profession: third Duke of Bridgewater

Achievement: Commissioned the Bridgewater Canal, often said to be the first true canal, to transport coal from his mines to towns

Date: 1761

Individual: George Stephenson

Profession: Railway engineer

Achievement: Invented the ‘Rocket’ locomotive, and built the Stockton and Darlington Railway, and the Liverpool and Manchester Railway

Date: 1824-1830

Individual: Richard Trevithick

Profession: Mining engineer

Achievement: Built first full-scale working railway steam locomotive

Date: 1804

Individual: Humphrey Davy

Profession: Chemist and inventor

Achievement: Invented the Davy Lamp which allowed deeper coal mining

Date: 1815

Individual: John ‘Iron Mad’ Wilkinson

Profession: Industrialist

Achievement: Pioneered the use and manufacture of cast iron, and made cylinders more accurate so that steam engines worked better

Date: 1774

Individual: Henry Bessemer

Profession: Engineer and inventor

Achievement: Made cheaper and improved steel

Date: 1850-55

Individual: Henry Cort

Profession: Inventor

Achievement: Invented key iron purifying processes known as ‘puddling’ and ‘rolling’

Date: 1783

Individual: James Watt

Profession: Engineer and inventor

Achievement: Improving the steam engine for powering factory machines

Date: 1764

Individual: Boulton and Watt

Profession: Steam engine manufacturers

Achievement: Supplied most early factories

Date: 1775-1805

BIG question
Historians used to say the Industrial Revolution happened between 1780 and 1800. Does your timeline support this theory? When do you think the Industrial Revolution happened? Use your timeline to justify your answer.

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