- PROTO-INDUSTRIALISATION (pre-industrialization) refers to the phase before the factories began to dot the landscape in England and Europe.
- England and Europe had large-scale industrial production for an international market that was not based on factories .
- In the 17th and 18th centuries, merchants from the town in Europe began moving to the countryside supplying money and persuading peasants and artisans to produce for an international market.
- Expansion of the world trade and possession of colonies in different parts of the world lead to increased demands for goods .
- Merchants were restricted to expand trade in towns as the authorization was under urban crafts and trade guilds . So now merchants had moved to the countryside where poor peasants and artisans started working for them as they could remain in the countryside and continue to cultivate their small plots.
- The proto-industrial system was thus a part of a network of commercial exchanges which was controlled by merchants.
1.1 The coming up of the factory
- The earliest factories in England came up by the 1730s and the number was later multiplied by the late eighteenth century.
- Cotton was the first symbol of a new era and its production boomed in the late nineteenth century.
- Richard Arkwright created the cotton mill and now costly machines could be purchased, set up, and maintained in the mill where all the processes were brought together under one roof and management.
1.2 The Pace of Industrial Change
- First, in Britain the most dynamic industries were cotton and metal that took a growth at a rapid pace, cotton was the leading sector in the first phase of industrialization up to the 1840s followed by the iron and steel industry .
- Second: Textile was a dynamic sector but the new industries found it difficult to displace traditional industries .
- Third: the pace of the change in the traditional industries was not set by steam-powered cotton or metal industries, but they did not remain entirely stagnant either. Small innovations were the basis of growth in many non-mechanized sectors such as food processing, building, pottery, glass work, tanning, furniture making, and production of implements.
- Fourth: Technological changes occurred slowly. New technology was expensive and was not as effective as its inventors and manufacturers claimed.
- James Watt improves the steam engine produced by Newcomen and patented the new engine in 1781.
- His industrialist friend Mathew Boulton manufactured the new model.
- Steam engines were not used in any of the other industries until much later in the century.
- Historians recognized that a typical worker i n the mid-eighteenth century was not a machine operator .