Britain’s canal system was a relatively short lived, but nevertheless important revolution in transport. Canals were an essential part of the Industrial Revolution and spawned Britain’s first successful steamboat, the Charlotte Dundas.
June 13, 2018 - Richard Moss
Stephenson’s Rocket will return to Manchester for the first time in over 180 years in September 2018.
Throughout the 1800s Britain became a busy industrial nation. People migrated in increasing numbers from the countryside to towns and cities to work in new factories and mills. Working conditions were poor and dangerous, injuries from machinery were common and workers – including children as young as six – worked long hours. Overcrowding, limited diets and polluted water led to widespread disease and early death. New Lanark, a village on the River Clyde near Glasgow, was a revolutionary industrial and housing complex, combining a cotton mill with purpose-built housing, education and social care for its workers and their families. The ideas put into practice here marked the beginning of cooperative socialism.
The humble miner’s safety lamp is, arguably, one of the most important inventions of the 1800s. The industrial revolution saw coal overtake wood as the most important fuel source for new industries and cities, with an ever increasing demand driving production and placing pressure on safe and efficient extraction. A lamp that could light the way, without causing a disastrous explosion, was as essential a piece of a miner’s kit as a pick-axe.
This gilded bronze statue, known as the ‘Golden Boys’ (and also the ‘Carpet Salesmen’!) honours Matthew Boulton, James Watt and William Murdoch. They are shown studying steam engine plans. Together these three revolutionised the steam engine – the technology that would literally drive the industrial revolution.
The steam engine was one of the most important technologies of the industrial revolution. But it could be dangerous. The invention of the steam whistle made steam power much safer, saving countless lives as steam technology developed and grew through the 1800s.