History of British Manufacturing

Industrial Revolution

The industrial revolution marks the biggest transition in the way in which products are made. Starting in Britain in around 1760, this period is defined by the birth of industry and manufacturing. Predominantly, textiles were the main commodity manufactured between 1760 and 1840, and the processes created in Great Britain were soon adopted by Western Europe and the States.

As a major turning point, a revolution, every aspect of life was impacted by the new ways of industry.

Workshop of the World

1851 saw Queen Victoria reigning over what was the workshop of the world, producing cotton, iron and coal in huge volumes. The Crystal Palace was a celebration of the way in which industry had developed and was a sensational pre-fabricated building.  At this time, no other country was as urbanised as Britain, thanks to the industrial revolution. Manufactured exports in turn paid for foods from around the world.  

The Assembly Line

The first assembly line was installed in Suffolk in 1853, powered by all sorts of drivers such as steam and water power. The modern day assembly line become more prolific in the early 1900’s and became famous in 1911 when Henry Ford further established it. As Britain ramps up manufacturing, war has a negative effect. However, not one to be kept down, Britain continues to soldier on.

The De-evolution of Industry

Since the 1970’s, the de-evolution of industry in Britain has begun. Whilst Britain was in economic and industrial crisis, politics saw to it that competition was the answer to drive wages, profits and productivity up. Austerity and privatisation knocked the industry greatly, as did the thought that what the country needed could be manufactured or imported cheaper from elsewhere. The manufacturing industry took a huge hit and declined from 30% when Thatcher came to power to only 11% when Brown left Downing Street.

Today’s Industry

Despite the reduction in numbers, there is still a huge buzz in the British manufacturing industry. Those who are in the industry are here to stay and the pride in British manufacturers is palpable. Pride of heritage, of quality, of innovation … and the future!

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