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Section 1. The Birth Decade of the Revolution. Section 2. Copper and Brass. Section 3. The Potteries. Section 4. The Generalisation of Machine Industry. Section 5. Competition and the Unit of Enterprise. Section 6. The State and Laissez-faire.

Section 1. The Birth Decade of the Revolution

THE French Revolution broke out in 1789; that is an historical fact. But it is not possible to assign a political year to an economic revolution: we can only specify a decade that which opens with the year 1760. In 1760 the Carron Iron Works were erected, and since before this Scotland had no iron industry, 1760 was the year for Scotland. She turned then from the cultivation of a difficult soil to the exploitation of rich resources of coal and iron. This and the foreign trade of Glasgow precipitated Scottish industrialism. In 1761 Brindley's canal from Worsley to Manchester was opened. To the generality this farreaching wonder was the revolution. Year by year new thousands in all parts of the country beheld this concrete mastery over Nature; rivers flowed down hill, but canals were taken wherever they were wanted for the service of man. In 1769 Arkwright patented the water frame, and James Watt his steam engine; 1769 therefore was the birth year of mechanical power in cotton and engineering. In every case, however, the novelties were the fruit of effort which had been in the air for some years previously. In 1754 the Society of Arts was founded at London by William Shipley, in 1760 it was offering rewards for inventions in multiple spinning. Thus both Watt and Arkwright had their atmosphere, the atmosphere of mechanical speculation in the bustling North. The patents issued between 1617 and 1760, a period of nearly 150 years, were fewer than those between 1760 and 1785, a period of only 25 years. Moreover, many of the early patents were mechanical dreams, as wild as the visions of fortunes in the South Seas. Some were not inventions at all but simply importations of foreign methods. After 1760 they were practical and specific, though not at first exact enough to prevent litigation and injustice. Among competing districts Lancashire stood first, partly because of its freedom from restrictions which held back the corporate towns of the South, and partly because the material on which it worked lent itself to mechanical treatment. It chanced that soon after 1760 Great Britain because of her small size

became a regular importer of food. Thus early was the stage set for the struggle between Manchester and the landlords.

Section 2. Copper and Brass

Brass is a mixture of copper and zinc. It was originally made by mixing copper with calamine, the ore of zinc (calamine from the Greek kadmia-Theban earth); but William Champion's patent of 1738 for making zinc from calamine furnished brass makers with zinc in separated form. Manufactured copper is used in finished copper goods or as the raw material of the brass industry. Bronze, an alloy of copper and tin, is included under the brass industry; in 1860 it replaced copper in the British copper currency. Battery means hammered goods; thus in a book of 1802, Battery works include pots, saucepans and metals, which tho' cast at first are to be afterwards hammered or battered into form.' 1

It does not take long for the student of the industrial revolution to realise that it proceeded very unevenly. Cotton and iron were leaders, but some large industries, of which building and coal mining are good examples, can hardly be said to have experienced a technical revolution by 1900. Agriculture, too, occupies a special position. Its technical advance in the 18th century was ahead of that in manufacture, but only in the 20th century, and in countries outside the mother country of industrialism, has the complement of the industrial revolution arrived in the form of scientific marketing by organised farmers. Indeed, the uniformity of the economic world is seen best at points subsequent to the processes of production. Modern methods of office organisation, advertising and accounting are common to all industries to-day; and the standardisation which is their common factor has invaded the professions, sport, and life generally. But the standardisation of business method was not possible without the aid of exact statistics. In 1834 the Royal Statistical Society was founded; in 1925 The Accountant, the organ of the Chartered Accountants of Great Britain, celebrated its Jubilee of publication, and its age is practically that of accountancy as a profession.

But there is another side to the variety of the industrial revolution which is equally worthy of notice, and that is the relation in which factory industry stood to domestic during the years of technical transition. In the textile industries the relation was one of rivalry. The factory destroyed the domestic system the machine the handicraft. But even here, it is pertinent to remember, the period from the 1780's to the first 1 Oxford English Dictionary, sub battery.

decade of the 19th century, which was later looked back upon as a golden age of hand-loom weaving, was the rough quarter of a century which elapsed between the cheapening of yarn by the new machine methods and the effective introduction of the power loom. In the metal industries the complementary relation predominated. Here' domestic industry flourished largely because its materials were provided for it with sufficient cheapness by more highly capitalistic concerns in the previous stages of the productive process.'1 The heavy industries (and it is these that we mainly think of when we associate iron with cotton in the leadership of the revolution) do not afford so good an example as the more expensive metals, copper and brass, or as iron itself in the expensive form of cutlers' steel.

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In the Birmingham brass and copper industries, as in the Sheffield cutlery trade, there were two distinct groups of producers, the makers of brass and steel, and the trades' which used brass and steel as their raw material. Between the twin specialties of Birmingham and Sheffield there were some small differences. Thus Sheffield steel makers depended largely on Swedish iron, therefore they were not interested in the ownership of mines: the cost of their raw materials, like those of textile materials, depended on tariffs and transport charges. Birmingham brass makers used native ore. Matthew Boulton, the leader of the Birmingham industry, was a shareholder in English copper and tin mines, but he overlaid his hardware business with a revolutionary commodity, steam power; that the old and the new here were in the same hands. when in the 19th century mild steel replaced wrought iron, it was under the leadership of inventors dissociated from the traditions of Sheffield. Nevertheless between the industries of Birmingham and Sheffield there was a fundamental similarity of structure. There were two parties, makers and users. former produced on a comparatively large scale even before the industrial revolution, the latter on a small scale to the end of the 19th century. In respect of co-existing diversity 18th-century Birmingham was close to 18th-century London, where in shopkeeping, wood-working and precious metals great and small flourished side by side. The piecemeal nature of factory legislation reflects the piecemeal progress of textile machinery. But the workshop, which was finally associated with the factory in the Workshop and Factory Acts, was not only piecemeal in the order of arrival but also structurally multiform.


Copper smelting was introduced into England in the reign of

1 H. Hamilton, The English Brass and Copper Industries to 1800, Intro. by Sir William Ashley, x.

Elizabeth by German capital and German labour. The first enterprise was at Keswick, Cumberland, where by 1642 there was a colony of 4000 foreign workmen. The Mines Royal, which was a copper mining and smelting company, and the Mineral and Battery Works, which mainly made brass, united in 1668 and had a legal monopoly until 1689, when copper mining was thrown open. But competition did not bring a host of competing producers; for it was not possible for the brazier to produce his own brass. Since copper and brass making required large amounts of capital, the unit of enterprise was too large to be financed by one individual. Therefore, even though the law was unfavourable to company effort, companies of a sort sprang up in the 18th century. The large concerns did not confine themselves to the supply of semi-raw material to the finishing trades. They were also finishers of certain goods, especially of heavy goods supplied in standard patterns to trade consumers, such as copper pans for distilleries, and sheets and bolts for ship's sheathing, which was introduced about 1760. The trades' covered a large variety of products and processes from cock-founding, an adjunct of plumbing, to coffin furniture. About 1775 the button began to displace the buckle, but the change was within the Birmingham trades and not at their expense. There was no exact division of function between the brass makers and the trades; nor uniform relation between the brass makers and the copper-mining companies. Before and during the 18th century certain goods were made both in the factory of the large concern and in the domestic workshop. The rich copper finds in Anglesey (c. 1770) and the rise of Thomas Williams, an Anglesey mine owner, smelter and manufacturer, led to fierce competition between Anglesey and Cornwall and thus to a marketing combine, the Cornish Metal Co., under the control of Williams. Birmingham asserted its independence by forming in 1780 a co-operative concern to make brass for its own trades, and fought the combine by establishing a mining and copper company.

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The mediaeval method of wire making is as clear an example of the limitation of human power as could be found in any industry. Men sat in swings opposite each other with a thin plate of brass attached to a girdle fastened round their waists and then by stretching forth their feet against a stump they shot their bodies from it, closing with the plate again; and so on until it was stretched into wire.' 1 In the 18th century this and other processes requiring power were done by the aid of water. In the 19th century the greater development of the heavy iron industry in the Black Country to the west of Birmingham reduced the

'H. Hamilton, op. cit. p. 344.

brass and copper industries to a subordinate position. The application of steam to the driving of machinery brought most of the Birmingham trades into the factory; and the last days of handwork were not in Birmingham or the brass industry but among the nail and chain makers of Dudley and neighbouring country towns. The industrial revolution took its mechanical orders from Soho, which was a part of Birmingham; and when Birmingham was linked on the north with Lancashire and on the south with London by iron rails, its full industrialism had arrived. It was never off the line of progress.

Section 3. The Potteries

The industrial revolution in pottery presents many points of similarity with that in cotton. Both were at first domestic industries carried on by hand. The processes occupied the family down to its youngest members, and both were operated on a small scale until the industrial revolution. The pottery of 1700 was a thatched cottage with lean-to working sheds and an oven surrounded by a 'hovel' of sods to conserve the heat. It employed perhaps six men and three boys, and probably £10,000 covered the value of the whole annual output of Staffordshire. In this peasant workshop the sequence of production was: preparation of clay in a tank and the removal of air holes a simple process done largely by young boys, as spinning was by girls; next the essential manufacturing process, the throwing of the ware on the potter's wheel; finally the finishing of the ware-decoration, baking in containers called 'saggars,' and glazing to make the ware hold water and look well. The oven would be fired on a Friday, the ware cooked over the week-end and taken out Monday morning. These stages of production corresponded roughly with the spinning, weaving and finishing of the textile trades.

The cotton industry obtained all its raw materials from abroad, whereas the potteries used none but native clay. But just as the early Lancashire industry progressed from a mixed fabric of cotton and linen to an all-cotton product in the days of Arkwright, so the Staffordshire potters, since from local clays they could obtain only a dirty yellow ware, employed the makeshift of a coat of imported white clay on a local body, and then in Wedgwood's time produced a perfect all-white ware by importing the china clays of Cornwall and Devon. The consumers of drapery forsook woollen goods for French silks and both for Indian chintzes, at once beautiful and cheap. Similarly there was a foreign influence in the use of pottery. China from China was the translucent ware named porcelain, the dinner ware of princes. The East

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