Britain’s Industrial Revolution

The Making of a Manufacturing People

Barrie Trinder

Aimed at the general reader, this is an important new overview of the Industrial Revolution across the British Isles.
Date Published :
September 2014
Publisher :
Carnegie Publishing
Format Available    QuantityPrice
ISBN : 9781859362198

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The industrial revolution in Britain changed the world. The images we all share – of steam engines and locomotives, smoke and smog, multi-story textile mills and regiments of working men and women flooding out of factory gates at the end of their shift – are all so familiar that it is easy to forget how enormous, far-reaching and upsetting were the events and processes that brought us into this new, industrial age. In Britain all of these things, and more, happened first and most dramatically. Factories as we know them were invented here; mines were sunk to new depths; inventive and entrepreneurial minds sought to make things in new ways that were better, faster and cheaper; engineers harnessed water and steam power as never before to drive machinery and equipment in concentrated centers of production. Innovations were put to work in new types of building, by new types of people and organizations. Alongside functional innovations such as these emerged entirely new ways of living. A flood of rural humanity swept into industrializing towns in search of work; people came to live in the shadows of the mills, the chimneys or the winding gears that – in the minds of many contemporaries – now enslaved them; patterns of life as well as work became tied to those of the machine. Society changed just as fundamentally as did the economy. And the landscape changed forever too: rural valleys filled with water-powered workshops and mills; canals were cut through fields, and along their banks sprang up yet more factories; in towns the air was thick with smoke from hundreds of chimneys. Towns sprawled; production boomed; British exports dominated trade. Britain became “the workshop of the world”, its inhabitants “a manufacturing people”. Contemporaries were shocked, thrilled and fascinated. This important new book endeavors to explain the industrial revolution throughout the British Isles. It is difficult to know how, fifty years from now, the industrial revolution will be viewed; perhaps, amid irreversible global warming and environmental disaster, as one of mankind’s greatest mistakes? Alternatively, might the mixture of enterprise and technological innovation of the type that flourished in Great Britain from the eighteenth century in fact provide remedies to such problems?


"Barrie Trinder's work over recent decades has played a vital part in the recognition and understanding of the importance of Britain's legacy as the first industrial nation. In this magisterial survey he now takes the long view in an impressive and wide-ranging survey of the experience of industrialisation, presenting the fruits of a lifetime of research in a richly illustrated picture of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. A valuable, accessible and up-to-date overview achieved through an impressive union of local examples and wide historical insights."

- Kate Tiller

"Barrie Trinder is one of our foremost industrial historians. This fully illustrated book is a compendium of his own observations over more than fifty years coupled with the work of others across Britain and Ireland. It shows in detail, superbly illustrated, numerous sites and places where industry, coal, iron, steel, lead, tin, textiles, and many more activities once ruled. So much has now gone that the book is as much a record of a now lost industrial world as it is an account of Britain's industrial revolution. A monumental study of the industrial glory that we have now lost, this is a book that anyone with an interest in our industrial heritage as well as our towns can enjoy dipping into, from an author who has criss-crossed the British Isles to record and document our industrial heritage. The numerous illustrations with long and helpful captions make this a compelling account."

- Prof. John V. Beckett

"This is the story of the great powerhouse of British history. Here, renowned historian Barrie Trinder offers a magisterial and comprehensive view, sweeping in its perspectives yet coloured by a wealth of rich and vivid detail. It is timely in two senses. First, the Industrial Revolution, its causes, effects and aftermath, are increasingly the subject of conjecture, analysis and research. This engaging new study opens the door to that debate. Second, in Barrie Trinder we have an erudite mentor who affords us the immediacy of his own experiences; of doubling at Masson Mill, weaving at Saltaire, casting at New Foundry, Stourbridge. And, in this compendium he brings a sense of clarity to themes that are often conflated; the revolution in transport as distinct from its engineering structures, the steam engine analyzed both as a source of energy and the creation of mechanical engineers. To all with an interest in this most misunderstood episode in the nation's history, Barrie Trinder's new book brings, as no other, the Industrial Revolution into focus."

- Sir Neil Cossons

"Britain's Industrial Revolution is a magisterial achievement. Compendious yet sharply incisive, expert yet wise, academically exact yet visually compelling and at times almost poetic, it presents a lifetime's investigation and understanding of one of the most exciting moments in world history in a volume of Braudelian scope and ambition. It is hard to imagine that anyone but Barrie Trinder could have brought this prodigious enterprise to fruition. There has been no other book like it and it will be the standard bearer for a generation.' All best wishes. It is going to be an outstanding book!"

- Dr Peter Wakelin

"Britain's Industrial Revolution by academician and historian Barrie Triner is an exceptionally well written, ably presented, and expertly documented account that is as accessible to the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the industrial development and contributions of Great Britain, as it will prove informed and informative for use as curriculum text for academia. Very highly recommended for community and academic library collections."

- Midwest Book Review

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