How Did Britain Change Between 1750 and 1900?

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The years 1750 to 1900 ushered in great change in Britain, with the population increasing by over 260 percent and shifting away from rural villages and into cities, with corresponding improvements in transportation, industry and communication. Historian Arnold Toynbee argued in 1883 that during this time period, Britain underwent an Agricultural and Industrial Revolution, but more-recent scholars have insisted that these changes were more gradual than what Toynbee suggested.

The Agricultural Revolution began during the 17th century, with various developments and innovations in agricultural technology causing food production to outpace population growth for the first time. England’s population exceeded 5.5 million and freed up labor while allowing people to improve their standards of living, eventually leading to the Industrial Revolution.

The increasing population led to a boom across many industries, most notably in the textile factories that switched from the cottage industry to a factory system. Cotton was and remains the most important non-agricultural crop. New inventions massively increased worker productivity, eventually replacing the need for humans to power them. Cheaper and stronger iron was developed that impacted every major industry.

The most-famous invention of the Industrial Revolution was the steam engine that powered transportation and enabled the growth of factories and mills.