The Industrial Revolution & Evolutionary Economics
caution !! this is an initial draft ... these notes are on my server for safe keeping !!
Evolutionary Economics explains the unleashing of a process of technological & institutional innovation by generating & testing a diversity of ideas which discover & accumulate more survival value for the costs incurred than competing alternatives. The evidence suggests that it could be adaptive efficiency that defines economic efficiency.
Innovative folk, products, technologies & organisations were introduced exploiting the synergies of specialisation & scale which made mass production in factories possible & profitable ... and self sustaining. What on earth was going on?
Charles Darwin explained the process but was misunderstood, human nature was not about survival of the fittest - but rather about differential survival and how genes can do cost / benefit analysis?
Thomas Jefferson explained the democratic environment but was misunderstood, democracy was not about 51% dictating to 49% - but rather about tort laws and how legal protection of human rights can avoid costly violence?
Adam Smith explained the universal nature of moral sentiments but was misundrstood, human nature was not about selfishness and red in tooth and claw - but rather about co-operation and how trade can generate synergies of specialisation & scale?
When folk were free from the tyranny & oppression of oppressive Bishops, tyrannical Princes, dictatorial Generals and stifling bureaucrats, natural cooperative behaviour of social animals secured positive feedback loops of survival synergies associated with specialisation and scale.
Emergent Patterns, evolution & economics
In 1700 stuff was happening in England ... and in Cheshire ... and in Acton Bridge. An exploding tangle of trading exchanges thrived and out of this multi dimensional mess of interconnections and chaos emerged new, surprisingly ordered structures; manufactories. Centralised facilities for the mass production of goods.
Danny Boyle in 2012 depicted industrialisation in his Olympic pageant which suggested massive new structures slowly emerged out of the idyllic West Ham countryside. How was any sense to be made of this emergent order?
Danny Boyle didn't explain the why and the how because there was no blue print to follow, no instructions, no user manual because no one knew what the stuff was that was happening ... if you get my meaning. There were only broad, restless, but discernible, patterns as the economics of the industrial revolution emerged 'as if' the basic genes of life were wrestling with an immensely complex cost / benefit analysis ... and nobody was telling the basic genes of life to turn left or turn right ... the underlying process was 'natural selection' which was only described a century and a half later by Charles Darwin ... just three simple activities were endlessly pursued and endlessly repeated over endless time by energetic folk -
variation - path dependent diversity was created by a stream of creative innovations - inherited successes were randomly modified.
selection - the options were sifted as costly failures were rejected in exchange deals - current losses were cut.
copying - successful synergies were imitated and grew in populations, unhindered - future profits were chased.
These were stumbling trials & errors as folk frantically tried to secure a crumb or two of improvement to feed the family. An increasing number of determined folk were desperately trying to curb the scourge of infant mortality; survival was not easy, mortality was rife. Some folk appealed to the gods for help but there was no rhyme nor reason in rain dances and there were Dissenters around and crowd trouble everywhere ... then occasionally there was a spark of excitement as something seemed to work and everybody climbed on the bandwagon and enthusiastically cut their losses and chased their profits ... but nobody seemed to stumble on the spark of excitement without hard work, honesty & thrift ... this was not luck, as Gary Player suggested, 'the harder I practice it seems the luckier I get ...'
This evolutionary process of natural selection was a far cry from any deliberate rational purposeful intentional plans of 'intelligent designers' ... behavioural trends emerged as different folk in different places at different times revisited synergistic exchanges which worked and abandoned fruitless zero sum exchanges ... and from the synergies, surplus stocks of goodies were secured. That was what synergies did ... think about it?
But don't get it wrong ... of course, once there were stocks there were inevitable parasites & predators. Squabbles, intrigue and misunderstandings were everywhere in a blitz of petty meddling. 'Risk taking' entrepreneurs who created wealth through hard work, honesty & thrift were confronted not only by common thieves but also by 'rent seeking' elites with violent power.
The patterns were relentless ... nobody could change the laws of physics ... and the 2nd law of thermodynamics was a pain ... there were no free lunches as costly energy gradients were necessary to drive reactions & transformations ... trees were used up, yet production had to be intensified to feed more & more mouths in the new cities ... and the chemical reactions always produced unusable waste as well as useful products ... and vain attempts to plan & legislate wealth by tax & regulation always added to existing costs and forced prices up & sales down ...
But hard work & innovations from increased specialisation & scale always brought costs down ... even though the costs of capital investment & the costs of human capital were unavoidable ... as work confronted entropy an evolutionary arms race was on ...
Clearly the industrial revolution was not driven by intention; it was driven by experiment ... ask James Watt ... and sitting on the periphery in Scotland some eminent folk had a go at a post rationalisation of all the frenetic activity ... Adam Smith tried to explain what was going on in 1752 he wrote 'The Theory of Moral Sentiments' and in 1776 he wrote 'The Wealth of Nations'. He knew a bit about social interactions, he was a Professor of Moral Philosophy!
Unfortunately most folk would have no truck with 'invisible hands' and while the English got on with the job, foreigners rushed about trying to find out who the wealth had been stolen from. The mercantilist French were convinced it had been stolen from overseas empires, just like the Spanish gold. But the belching chimneys of Coalbrookdale were nowhere to be seen on the Main, and 'a nation of shopkeepers' just didn't cut the mustard? All the spies returned empty handed, and for most folk the industrial revolution remained an interminable puzzle ... and worst still some folk wanted out and wished for a return to the idyllic green & pleasant land of milk & honey which had been ruthlessly ravaged by dark satanic mills.
For sure this revolution was an explosion of irreversible change and famously involved Yorkshire wool & worsted, Cornish tin & Swansea coal, Cheshire salt & silk, Lancashire cotton & calico, Staffordshire pottery & porcelain, Coalbrookdale pots & pans and Soho steam & engines ... but many folk and many other activities were also waxing strongly, it seemed everything was interconnected -
Yorkshire Wool - the merchants of Leeds discovered & accumulated the benefits of trade
Metallurgy at Baptist Mills & Coalbrookdale - the Quakers were keen entrepreneurs and had no truck with the authorities ...
Cornwall Copper & Swansea Coal - Cornish entrepreneurs exploited the advantage of coal ...
Merchants of Liverpool - traded anything, anywhere, anytime ...
Early Industrialists in Flintshire - had a bonanza with lead, copper, iron & zinc smelting, water power and coal ... all added impetus to the development of the Dee wharfs & the Port of Liverpool ...
Silk Throwing - in the East Cheshire towns cashed in on the Pennine streams and the merchants of Spitalfield ...
Chemical Manufactories in Cheshire - exploited old accumulations of salt & cows and produced new innovative goodies ...
Steam Engines - James Watt & Mathew Boulton produced money at Soho ...
Manchester Cotton - innovative products, technologies & organisations were introduced exploiting the synergies of specialisation & scale which made mass production in factories possible & profitable.
... and all touched the industrial development of rural Cheshire at Acton Bridge.
There was no salt, no mining and no smelting at Acton Bridge but there was water power, river transport and intimate trade connections with the Liverpool merchants, the Flintshire entrepreneurs, the East Cheshire mills & Northwich ... Acton Bridge was never far from the action ... the timeline of some significant dates of the industrial revolution confirmed Acton Bridge was in the thick of it ...
The Cheshire pioneers struggled with all this mind boggling complexity by the seat of their pants, the problems were intractable and the solutions quite invisible ... folk just trialed & errored until something worked ...
In this way the factory system evolved ... not the best, just better than the alternatives, as the ingenuity of folk solved problems as 'know how' turned dirt into value ... and it was 'know how' that stemmed the flow of stench & the foul filth of degradation & waste ... the downside to industrialisation was obvious; more change, more conflict, more complexity, more congestion & more scarcity ... & more waste was not only intolerable pollution which made working conditions inhuman but also waste was a costly loss ... nevertheless a sale was a sale and a job was a job and there were no better alternatives available at the time ... things were tough ... ask Robert Owen, he longed for the idyllic past as he busied himself coping with the problems at the Northwich cotton Mill in the 1780s ...
As the social interactions & trading networks burgeoned, surprisingly novel and completely unpredictable new specialisations emerged. Folk had always been busy going about their business as they tried to put a crumb or two on the table for the kids; they learned a trade and learned to do deals with their mates ... that's what folk did when they learned a trade; they traded. There was no point in specialising and learning a new skill if you didn't trade it with someone different ... was there? Learning a trade that could be traded certainly seemed a good way to survive ... so that's what folk did ... and all manner of different 'trades' emerged just as they had always done; from hunters & gatherers to farmers & warriors and then alchemists, bakers, bankers, barbers, blacksmiths, brewers, butchers, carpenters, cheesemongers, coopers, cooks, dairy maids, drapers, dyers, fishmongers, fullers, girdlers, goldsmiths, haberdashers, ironmongers, lorimers, marmers, masons, mercers, millers, miners, pepperers, ploughmen, potters, scribes, shepherds, shipwrights, shoemakers, smiths, spicers, spinners, tailors, tanners, teachers, tilers, vintners, weavers, wheelwrights & witchdoctors ... it seemed folk had always discovered value as they specialised and traded, they seemed to know there was no free lunch ... and after 1688 the Bishops, Princes & Generals tended to 'mind their own business' and let folk get on with their specialised deals ... some suggested the Bishops, Princes & Generals simply had their own specialisations to trade?
Trade and specialisation produced value but scale produced economies. The great trading companies captured both specialisation and scale synergies and were important precursors to the industrial revolution. Following the euphoria of the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, and spurred by competition from the Dutch, in 1591 The East India Company led the way and later, in 1660, The Royal African Company followed. These companies demonstrated the power of trade to secure wealth ... a much better bet than rape, pillage & plunder ... ? No doubt these companies were licensed monopolies and indulged in rape, pillage and plunder but no doubt they created vast wealth from the economics of trade ... important examples of the economic superiority of trade over theft ...
Pehaps in 1700 the entrepreneurs of Cheshire were well placed to benefit from the innovations in the two leading cities of the industrial revolution in Lancashire; Liverpool and Manchester -
Liverpool's deep water wharfs and the associated
rivers & canals provided not only export opportunities but also imported
varieties ... from the very early days there were indispensible
global markets, global competition & global organisation ... cotton,
silk and spices were simply not available locally ...
Why was Bristol on the silts of the Avon less successful?
Manchester's pre-eminence in innovative textile technology established population centres which provided rich & discerning markets for all manner of products & services ...
But land locked Birmingham was hardly less successful? They made hay with metal fabrications of all shapes and sizes ... and although Bristol got a flyer, rather like Chester it couldn't keep its port free of silt.
The happenings in the 18th century made the English confident and they seemed to be winning wars ... both the economic wars and the bloody army & navy wars ... confidence underpinned by the technological innovations in mass production and the social organisational innovations in religious & political systems ...
In this way, in
the fullness of time, a social structure emerged and became the envy of the
'industrial revolution'. Mass production in factories. Not just production
but mass production; everybody seemed to be included in, everybody wanted Abraham Darby's pots & pans ...
and they were cheap!
It was only afterwards that curious folk began to ask what happened & why it happened & how it happened? Who was in charge and organising this new wealth of production that everyone seemed to enjoy?
... but things had been brewing for some time ... and 'revolution' was a misnomer ... and economics seemed to seemed to play an important role as Dorothy Bentley Smith summarised the emergence of a new breed of Georgian Gentlemen merchants in the midst of almost continuous war with France -
'It is usually the economic rather than the moral desires of a nation which create revolution, and despite the cries of 'liberty, equality, fraternity' it was the serious financial state of France in 1787 which was the initial culprit for what followed. Years of war had depleted her treasury and although the American War of Independence had been successful, France had invested a fortune in providing troops and naval assistance to a cause from which she would make no financial gain, whilst ironically, Britain, having lost her American colonies would see her trade across the Atlantic increase appreciably; family ties were strong. France had also seen a fortune spent on royal palaces and there was a sharp contrast between the affluent upper class of the nobility and the vast peasant class with its predominance of agricultural labourers, between which there was very little respect. King Louis XVI's solution was to summon members of the nobility to a council in the hope that they would agree to pay a larger share of taxes; but all to no avail' ...
Dorothy Bently Smith did not dwell on Adam Smith's suggested interconnection between 'moral desires' and 'serious finacial state' ...
Why did the industrial revolution take off in North Cheshire & South Lancashire around 1700?
Economists had pondered and mulled over this question for years ... and inevitably the experts disagreed. Early on in 1776 Adam Smith and then later in 18481 Karl Marx offered their alternative interpretations of the industrial revolution and polarised the on going disagreement and debate ...
Since then economists have been driven to explain this stupendous puzzle of self sustaining technological innovation; the discovery & accumulation of 'know how'.
There were some economists who questioned the dogma of the experts and suggested that the industrial revolution involved vast incomprehensible complexity, a network of interconnected, interactive, interdependencies, where the economic success of mass production in factories emerged from a whole shebang & caboodle which had been simmering for ages ... the detail was unknowable but the process was unmistakable -
Some economies evolved an institutional environment (generally accepted rules of behaviour) which encouraged a process of technological & organisational innovation which created survival value in excess of the costs incurred, and did so more efficiently than competing alternatives.
Evolutionary economists were blunt; the economics of the English 'secret' was not a fiendish plan, it was Darwin's natural selection ... simple behavioural rules of thumb which self-organised local social interactions from which incomprehensible complexity emerged ... what else could it be?
A complex adaptive system characterised by familiar environmental problems -
constant change, conflict, complexity, congestion & scarcity ...
Technology solved more & more of these problems as positive feedback loops created useful wealth through a virtuous circle of -
hard work, honesty & thrift ...
Ingenious folk learned to cope!
In 1776 Adam Smith described both moral sentiments and pin factories; today economists model the synergies of specialisation & scale ... but the three elements of evolution; vary, select & copy were the three drivers of economic change ... hard work, honesty & thrift ... in disguise ...
Specialisation - Technological Innovation - What's your trade? What's the deal? What can you do better than your competitors?
hard work - discovering improved technological 'know how' by trial & error satisficing behaviour.
The trick was not existing technology but innovation, improving existing technology, the new ideas, the hitherto unconnected connections. Wealth creation & economic growth came from continuous innovation which raised productivity and improved living standards ... the copyists seldom made enough profit to attract investment; 'me too' goods & services just didn't make money ... there was no free lunch.
Inheritance with modification, Darwin's natural selection; like the giraffe's long neck, things just happened as short necks died out. Profitable factories grew, unprofitable factories went bankrupt. Best practice didn't stay best practice for very long ... there was a process of creative destruction. Darwin explained; evolution required a random diversity of projects for trial. Nobody ever knew in advance where the next good idea was coming from ...
Once the English machines were working the French applied their brains to the understanding of the science theory which explained the result so it could be imitated ... copying was the system of 'planned improvement' but, by definition, 'planning' never involved innovative trial & error and 'planning' always seemed to inhibit innovations! Innovative improvement was very different.
Specialisation & trade synergies from a division of labour in a market economy focused on the discovery new technology to extract value from the raw materials hidden in the rocks & wastes local to North West England -
Halkyn ore & Buxton rocks; the earth itself provided metals and lime, but it was technological innovation, 'know how', that turned the dirt & rocks into valuable products
St Helens, Flintshire & Staffordshire coal; the rotting vegetation of past aeons provided the energy gradients which powered the manufactories ... an intensification of energy use which replaced the earlier less flexible water power from the streams which poured down the Pennines
Northwich salt; sodium & chlorine provided alkali soda ash for the manufacture of soap & glass and the chlorine for the bleaching of paper & textiles
Cheshire cows; after the meat, milk & cheese were produced, the carcase provided a host of other refined products ... everything was recovered 'except the eyelashes'
Scale - Torts - How do you cooperate & exchange with strangers? How do you defend yourself against con men? Would you buy a second hand car from this man?
honesty - trust & loyalty provided some immunity from treachery as co-operation evolved from tit for tat behaviours
The trick was to increase the size of the cooperating group to achieve economies of scale. Deep down in the skull Adam Smith's 'moral sentiments' mediated cooperative deals and networks of interaction grew in scale from family, to friends, to tribe, to religion, to nations, to global trade ... but parasites & predators were everywhere.
Trust in strangers and some immunity from parasites & predators grew from simple rules of thumb ... 'my word is my bond', 'caveat emptor' and 'tit for tat' behavioural traits. But there was no Panglossian escalator, no panacea, just a tendency for nice guys to finish first as cooperation produced synergies and non-cooperation produced wars. And non-cooperation was everywhere! Some Chinese said no to free trade in opium and there was bloody war. Some Americans said no to free trade in slaves and there was bloody war. Some Russians said no to serfdom and there was bloody war. Some Japanese Samurai said no to free trade and there was bloody war. Africans said no to free trade and there was a scramble for other people's territory ...
The English factories delivered mass production, mass employment & mass consumption of goods & services from the higher real wages which were involved. There was a fascinating contrast with the mercantilism of the French absolutist Bourbons who tried a top down tax funded system which rewarded the elite recipients with cake & toys. When the inevitable revolution came a 'Continental System' crushed economic freedoms with more of the same ... there were two very different systems - 'you could do anything that was allowed' which was restrictive regulation or 'you could do anything that was not forbidden' which was freedom within the law ...
Scale economies from a critical mass of folk who were locked together by a cultural trust and an independent frontier spirit derived from Cheshire's position as a defensive bulwark confronting the Welsh, Irish, Danish and Northern insurgents ... free to accumulate & exchange individual skills, 'know how' & associated rewards which were all underpinned by the generally accepted system of tort law & intellectual property rights.
Synergies - Trade - Who pays? How is Investment Funding secured?
thrift - everybody exchanged their trades to put a crumb on the table but few understood what was happening; even after David Ricardo explained comparative advantage behaviour the investment in 'education and compound interest' required painful sacrifice but, for certain, everyone had an opportunity because everyone had different opportunity costs.
Manufactories required up front investment - materials had to be purchased, buildings & equipment constructed and installed, specialised craft skills taught and honed ... all had to be paid for long before a single widget was sold ... new funding systems were required, everything had to be loosened up ... everybody copied everything that worked ... this was not laissez faire but freedom within the law ... tort law ... contracts, credit, bankruptcy, debt recovery, patents, limited liability and insurance all played a part ... investment funds required for this mass market scale came from the trading synergies as specialised innovations were exchanged. The market was accountable human beings facing the consequences of their deals.
In this way the English solved a funding problem. Large scale production in factories required fixed assets, working capital and a trained workforce all of which needed investment and investment needed savings ... and those with the ideas had no money and those with the money had no profitable ideas ...
The ideas of technology could be copied or stolen by the parasites & predators or found in a textbook or a drawing but nobody could steal innovation ... and how can you steal trust? ... above all a skilled labour force was essential ... funds could be secured by taxation or borrowing but stealing compound interest proved difficult ... think about it?
For every 'topper' there was a 'bowler', for every Ludwig Mond there was a John Brunner ...
Complex Adaptive Systems
In 1700 in England ... and in Cheshire ... and in Acton Bridge, a complex adaptive system emerged as folk busied themselves with simple rules of thumb which seemed to work -
hard work & technology
honesty & tort law
thrift & trade synergies
The system resulted in -
manufactories and innovative production technology for mass markets.
Mass production in factories. Examples of specialisation of capital and economies of scale as centralised automated mass production replaced the cottage throwsters of old (the low capital ‘putting out’ system). Water power & ingenuity. Photosynthesis & craft skills. A network of trading connections. Cheap water transport of raw materials & finished products as the River Weaver Navigation, the Sankey Canal and the Port of Liverpool linked raw materials, manufactories & customers. Both technological expertise AND investment capital were traded.
financing of investment funds for large scale production.
Financial Revolution & Comparative Advantage. Merchants, plus estate owners, plus lawyers, London financiers and ‘contacts’ formed partnerships for manufactories. The merchants started to accumulate capital from increasingly diverse trade. Some of the old landed gentry were keen on generating new wealth from their estates of minerals and water power. Marriage settlements, to protect the infants, were also a source of investment capital. Investment funding from tax or from profit?
Real Money Wage Growth. Replacement of self sufficiency as real money was in hand for exchanges to purchase an increasing variety and quantity of goodies; food, clothing, shelter, tools & utensils ... and luxuries.
Self Sustaining Wealth Creation. The cake was now growing and inevitably folk turned their attention from low productivity self sufficiency to the size of their share of new wealth! Some risk takers did well, many risk takers failed (and didn’t make the history books), some were thieves (common and sophisticated!) And, of course, foreigners wanted a share as well!
The battles began!
And so did the plausible cause & effect analysis paralysis. Economists produced loads of necessary but never sufficient causes of the industrial revolution -
Beowulf first told of the necessity for customary laws and for the defence of stocks - 'no one said it was easy'!
cooperative culture which was nurtured by predominantly Anglo Saxon language & common tort laws. A culture which had been robust enough to avoid Roman domination and resilient enough to break out from the abject poverty and exploitation of the Norman feudal system ... it was a culture of an emergent middle class. Of course, these circumstances and behavioural traits were not confined to Cheshire, however the culture of independence & enterprise had been encouraged by Cheshire's palatine status and the remoteness of the Bishops, Princes, Generals & bureaucrats in London.
English vernacular included 'everybody in' at the grass roots as interactive folk did their deals - 'man was a social animal'! England was 'open for business' and receptive for change because change was not imposed.
English common law established a level playing field for individual freedom & democracy - 'tort, trade & technology'!
agricultural revolution where innovative technology & husbandry grew more bigger better cows, more bigger better fodder & more bigger better cheeses thus creating the surpluses necessary to sustain the new population concentrations in the cities & manufactories as they pursued their alternative productive work. From self sufficiency to surpluses and space for new specialisations. Ancient 'trades' & warriors & soothsayers.
empirical science institutions triumphed over myth, magic & mirrors - 'education, education, education'!
free trade unleashed the synergies of specialisation & scale - 'open for business' and 'mind your own business' were the watch words! From local barter to trust in strangers and exchange markets along trade routes. Popes & sun kings. Privilege & luxury. Exquisite Chinese silks and Indian cottons.
1500 Voyages of discovery and the Scientific Revolution - from Isaac Newton to Charles Darwin. From plunder to trade and growth of new scale. Mercantilism & theft was a zero sum game. Trade & exchange was synergistic. Arbitrage as rotting peppers were traded for copper manilas.
1688 Glorious Revolution and the Industrial Revolution - from Whig principles to James Watt ... 'the topper' and 'the bowler'.
And then there were the interminable wars; 'the Continental system' of mercantilism verses 'the English Free Traders' of comparative advantage -
1700 War of Spanish Succession - Louis XIV & Marlborough - from absolutist Sun Kings to independent 'island nations' & Winston Churchill.
1750 Seven Years War - Louis XV & William Pitt - from Mercantilism to Trading Empires, Special Relationships & Whig Principles.
1775 American War of Independence - from Tea Taxes to international trade & Thomas Jefferson
1800 Napoleonic Wars - Louis XVI & Adam Smith - from Continental Systems to Free Trade & David Ricardo.
Hmmm ... ? sounds good stuff but ... bullshit? ... this was just one possible scenario of causes, but 'causes' can't explain complexity meaningfully ... however the process of evolution does ... completely ...
Some economies evolved an institutional environment (generally accepted rules of behaviour) which encouraged a process of technological & organisational innovation which created survival value in excess of the costs incurred, and did so more efficiently than competing alternatives.
Beware of cultural triumphalism the industrial revolution involved a hegemony sequence Northern Italy, 15th century; Holland 18th century & England 19th century.
The English system involved the unleashing of a process of technological & institutional innovation by generating & testing a diversity of ideas which discover & accumulate more survival value for the costs incurred than competing alternatives. The evidence suggests that it could be adaptive efficiency that defines economic efficiency.
The system was interactive, responsive & self-organising within common tort laws. Driven by specialisation & economies of scale ease of transport & communications.
1. Diversity - weakened central authority put some capital into the hands of more diverse entrepreneurs. Bishops, Princes, Generals & bureaucratic majorities exercised less power.
2. Competition - competitive institutions. Complementary specialisations & cooperative synergies. Comparative Advantage explained the advantages of specialisation & scale.
3. Technological Innovation - technology, finance & organisation. Not coal & steam. English Empiricism.
London & Economic History.
From Elizabethan 1500 business activity evolved from London; the largest market, and the hub for shipping & roads. Wool was the first business staple all over the southern lowlands, the south west and the East ... and particularly the West Riding of Yorkshire where wool made a splash. The wool trade prospered in spite of tax and interference until around 1600.
But thanks to folk like John Freame London slowly but surely established its pre-eminence as a global financial centre
Perhaps there was steady progress after the Reformation when the Bishops lost their grip. After 1500 the voyages of discovery renewed enthusiasm. The civil war was helpful as the kings lands were redistributed. Business skilled craftsmen had been emigrating to the New World to get away from restrictive religious imposition and the baleful influence from conservative landowners was reduced. The Restoration and the Glorious Revolution have been identified as important precursors to the industrial revolution but despite the perpetual threats, wrangling, apprehension & shenanigans the economic realities of wealth creation had an unstoppable momentum of its own, as long as the common law of England was maintained the powers that be had little influence. First the Bishops then the Lords had been neutered. They interfered and taxed but they survived only on the back of the economic realities of the industrialists who were after all producing all the golden eggs ... and the eggs were mass produced in factories it was economies of scale that made the the industrial revolution inclusive ... every one benefitted from the new technologies ... Adam Smith described the process; it was the 'nation' that was becoming wealthy not the elitist powers that be ... slow path dependent progress ...
The North West & Industrial Revolutions.
The north west was an inaccessible backwater, apart from Chester which was attractive because of its special position for the Irish trade and defence. London activities moved up the value chain into higher value finished goods pushing more basic manufacturing into the provinces; Derby, Leicester & Nottingham. London deindustrialised. The forces of comparative advantage were at work. However the associated specialisation & division of labour opened up more opportunity for innovation within the path dependency. The southern counties specialised in agriculture & grain production to feed the city populations but then specialised on elitist protectionism of finance. It was the north west where the business manufacturing culture developed. Property rights in the North were diverse with more small copyright tenant farmers, 2/3rds of the population had some capital. In the South there were more large grain growing landowners and labourers. The developments -
Cheshire cheese fed London & Cheshire salt made Liverpool
the potteries received west country clay via sailing ships to Runcorn
northern horses were used for road transport to London
metals came up the Mersey to Warrington for brass & pewter pot & pans, bronze bells, blacksmiths & nails, then watch & clock makers and toolmakers at Warrington
local coal from Wigan
but the City of London provided the necessary investment capital.
cheese & salt were exported and grain imported to feed the expanding populations which moved into the hill country silk and the fustian mills and Stockport, Macclesfield & Congleton waxed. ... then there was cotton ...
Manchester methodology - reasons, time sequence and
consequences of industrialisation (landscape & social).
Understand the technology & science of the period and the localised nature of the social context of industrialisation and how the landscape was changed by industrialisation.
1. Anderton Boat Lift 1983
2. Lion Salt Works 1986
3. Anson Engine Museum Poynton 1989
4. Cheese Warehouse Sealand Road 2003 (Matthews)
Brine springs of the Weaver valley - Leftwich, Middlewich, Nantwich and Northwich ...
Rock Salt 1690, large iron pans for evaporation, coal fuel and Weaver Navigation 1720.
Salt for soap, glass and alkali industries along Mersey Valley - Liverpool, Wirral, Runcorn, St Helens, Warrington, Widnes & Northwich and thus the British chemical industry.
Corn Milling -
Burdett 1777 identified 140 water & wind powered mills.
Napoleonic Wars & boom for home grown grain supported by the Corn Laws to feed the growth of Cheshire’s new industrial towns.
Repeal of Corn Laws 1846, railways and dairy produce supported industrial towns as imported cheap grain was milled at the ports as led to the decline of rural milling.
East Cheshire Congleton and Macclesfield with Northwich & Chester outliers.
Silk import taxes slashed by the Cobden Treaty with France 1860 ) led to the decline of the silk mills. Congleton turned to fustian in 1860/70s and then mid-twentieth century to artificial fibres.
Manufacturing belt from the Derwent Valley to Derby & Leek supplied London merchants. Extraordinary silk was imported. Commercial and family links with the London market (Charles Roe, a button and silk merchant), freedom from Guild restrictive practices and welcoming encouragement from local authorities were key factors ... and silk covered buttons of fashion.
Cotton & Fustian -
Pennine streams plus outliers then Cotton famine 1861 led to the decline.
Cheshire ridge at Manley Knoll and King’s Chair Delamere Forest supplied material for Vale Royal Abbey and Chester Castle
Copper at Alderley Edge & Engine Vein ... also copper at Bickerton and Halkyn lead at Chester.
Iron ore used for nails & salt pans. Five water powered forges at Acton, Cranage, Lea, Tib Green and Warmingham.
Coalfield ran thru Poynton, Bollington to south Macclesfield.
Neston seam ran under the Dee to North Wales, two quays adjacent to the collieries, fed Ireland, but the silting of the estuary led to the decline.
Warrington wire drawing and tools. Crewe railway workshops. Sandbach Fodens.
From Chester to Liverpool as the Dee silts and The Weaver Navigation succeeds.
Bridgewater 1773, Trent & Mersey 1777, Chester 1779, Macclesfield 1831, Manchester Ship 1894, Shropshire Union & Ellesmere Port
Saltways then Turnpikes - Chester to Whitchurch 1705, Buxton to Manchester 1724, Church Lawton to Crange 1734, Nantwich to Chester 1743 plus trough route London to North Wales and Manchester to Preston.
Local market access roads to Congleton, Macclesfield, Middlewich, Nantwich, Northwich and Warrington.
Liverpool to Manchester Railway
Grand Junction Railway 1837 linked Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester
Chester & Crewe Railway 1840
Manchester & Birmingham Railway 1842
North Staffs 1858
London & North Western Railway 1846
Macclesfield, Bollington and Marple Railway 1869
Cheshires Lines 1875 East West valleys across Bollin, Dee, Gowy, Mersey, and Weaver
Hubs at Crewe 1843 & Chester 1840 for Birkenhead, Warrington, Shrewsbury, Holyhead
Cheshire from a rural agrarian to urban manufacturing driven by rock salt, Weaver, canals, railways, transport hubs and silk.
Market towns to new towns Birkenhead, Bollington, Crewe, Ellesmere Port, Runcorn, Winsford.
Chester silted up but developed an interesting industrial suburb between Foregate Street and the canal.
Social origins of industrialisation?
Margaret Hodgen contributed to Change & History in 1952.
Any corrections and additional information gratefully received contact john p birchall