|The world's first factory. |
Cromford mill, 1771
Licensed under Public Domain
via Wikimedia Commons
The term ‘Industrial Revolution’ was coined in 1884 by Sir Arnold Toynbee to describe the move from domestic to factory production, a process made possible by the application of water- and steam-power.
Not all historians agree with this term. Those who prefer to think in terms of evolution point out that in the middle of the nineteenth century most people still worked on the land, or worked in unmodernised industries.
However, industrialisation should be seen as one of the great changes of history along with the prehistoric neolithic revolution. The census of 1851 revealed that the majority of British people were no longer living in rural areas but in towns and cities. This had never happened before in human history.
The Industrial Revolution took place against the background of the eighteenth-century consumer revolution. The demand for more goods stimulated innovation, which then produced more goods at lower prices and provided a further stimulus to consumerism.