The Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution and industrialization represent a decisive turning-point in socio-economic conditions and form the beginning of a new epoch in spatial and economic development in Europe. The origins of this development lie in Great Britain. From the 1730s on, most of the inventions characterizing the epoch were made there, falling on a ground that had been prepared by the beginnings of economic liberalism. Particular high gains in productivity were achieved in the production of textiles. Of similar significance was the replacement of charcoal by coal and later by coke which revolutionized the production of iron and steel. Blast furnaces were moved from wooded regions to deposits of coal and ore, industrial landscapes came into being (Buchheim 1994: 45-59).
The steam-engine [1] was not the first, but probably the most important innovation of that time. By its invention energy became independent of the availability of wind, water [2], animals and manpower [3]. It could now be produced continuously and in sufficient quantity. The extension of the canal network [4] and the rise of the railway also contributed to a change in locational factors for commercial production. Larger manufactories and factories became possible and necessary for economical production. Factories gradually replaced manufactories and home-industries (Rürup 1992: 61-63; Rübberdt 1972: 39).
By the end of the Napoleonic Continental System at the latest, British industrial products became serious competitors to traditional trades on the Continent. In Central-Europe they were countered by modernization and specialization. Processing of British industrial products allowed traditional industries to profit from industrial progress. Nonetheless, British industrial manufacturing processes were increasingly imitated on the continent. Especially in France and Belgium this strategy was an early success (Buchheim 1994: 69-73).
Within the German Federation, machinery was put into use early, but...