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in this lecture, i would like to talk about economic change. um, the economic changes that took place in, eighteenth century Britain. um, during the eighteenth century, the age of reason, um, new ideas developed, and new ways of thinking developed. and, these led to two huge economic changes. the first, uh, t- the agricultural revolution and the second the industrial revolution.
regarding the agricultural revolution. until the eighteenth century the people of each village had shared, uh, the same fields. and these were usually very large. at the same time, their animals had run around together on land which belonged jointly, to everyone in the village. and agricultural methods were not very advanced. at the beginning of the century, um, some farmers, uh, put fences around their land, and started to experiment, with more scientific ideas about farming. and of course, they were successful. they found ways to grow more crops. . . and they found ways to raise bigger, and better animals. [throat clear] the results of this were great of course. and, uh, many landowners put fences around their land. with the result that many ordinary farmers lost their land, a-and had to move out of the villages. um, at the same time. . . uh, of course agricultural production increased greatly. um, but less workers were needed to to work, ah, on these large farms. and food became much cheaper. but many people in the country, found that they had no work. and by the middle of the, eighteenth century, there were not enough jobs for the people living in the countryside. and that caused a-a great deal of suffering and and a great deal of hardship.
but it also made possible, the second great economic change, of the eighteenth century. um, this was course the industrial revolution. um, this was possible because of the large number of people unemployed, due to the agricultural revolution. and the industrial revolution provided work for many of those, who had lost their farms jobs, uh, in the countryside. the industrial revolution started in England, uh, during the middle of the eighteenth century. um, from where it spread to the rest of Europe, the U-S, the U-S-A and, and the rest of the world.
before the industrial revolution, most industrial production had been carried on in peoples’ homes. um, the first important change, was the inventions of machines, which could be used in the home. uh, such as spinning wheels and looms for weaving cloth. um, but later even better machines were invented. uh, and these were too big to be used i-in a small house. and most of the new, bigger machines needed a-a source of power, to, to run them. they needed waterpower. uh. so the- they had to be by a suitable running stream so the power of the running water could be used to work the machines. and so. . . people started to work together in groups, i- in special buildings, which housed their machines. and these groups were called factories. and this was the start of the factory system. people no longer worked at home, but worked in factories. of course, people moved, um, their homes nearer to the larger factories. and new towns started developing and, uh, around the factories, and some of these started getting larger and larger.
um, during this first period, running water was used for power. but then in seventeen-sixty-nine the most important invention of the industrial revolution was made. a man called James Watt, invented the steam engine. this was soon used as the main source of power for driving all machines. the steam engine, was very cheap, and very powerful. and it did not need to be beside a suitable running stream. and factories could now be in almost any place, which had plenty of water.
during the eighteenth century, um, the transport system throughout the country was greatly improved. uh, in the early eighteenth century roads were often very bad. and it usually took a whole day to travel fifty miles. in the middle of the, century a new type of road started being built. and these new roads were much better. the idea was very simple. at first, large stones were laid down. and these formed the bed. and then smaller stones were laid on top of those. and then, on top of the whole thing, even smaller stones were placed on top. a-and this type of construction made, uh, for very good roads. uh, and transport became much faster. while the roads were being developed, also canals were being built. uh, canals were, uh, much cheaper and much faster than roads. and so a whole new network of canals was built all over England during this time. and any visitor to England can go and see them now, to this day.
and then the canals were replaced, by another form of transport, the railways. in eighteen-fourteen a man called George Stevenson, made the first steam engine, which could move itself. if you think about it… steam engines had always, been made to move something else, to, to, to work a machine or move something, uh, move a machine. what George Stevenson did was make the steam engine move itself. and this was, uh, the first steam train. um, and this led to the development of the railways. um, during the nineteenth century, the railway system wa- was developed very rapidly. um, and soon railways became very fast and very very cheap. uh, the railways changed the lives of so many people. before the development of the railways, most people never left their own village. or if they did leave, it was only to go to the nearest small town. after the railways were developed, many people were able to visit other parts of the country. even if they were quite poor. um, the railways like. . . all the, um, developments so the new developments in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, were the direct result of the new scientific way of thinking, which developed at the beginning of the eighteenth century.
these economic changes that took place during the eighteenth century, uh, of course led to many changes in people’s lives. many industrialists made a lot of money. and so England, Britain became much richer. and of course this lead to the middle classes becoming more powerful. and in eighteen-thirty-two, um, i-i-in Britain, the right to vote for parliament was extended greatly. and most of the middle class were given the right to vote. and this of course greatly increased the political power of the middle class.
however, the working class did not get the right to vote for parliament. and so they had almost no political power. and the lives of the working classes were often very hard. although many goods became much cheaper, due to mass production. wages were often very low. many people received o- only just enough money to stay alive. they had to work long hours, o- o- originally as many as fifteen hours a day. women and young children also worked in mines and in factories. and their living conditions were often very bad… with as many as ten people living in one damp and dirty room. and there was much suffering that came as a result of the industrial revolution.
the suffering was – partly to_ as a result of new economic theories, that were developed in the middle of the eighteenth century. until, uh, this time, until the industrial revolution, the government had tried to regulate and protect trade. but then in seventeen-seventy-six, um, Adam Smith, um, published a book called “The Wealth of Nations.” and he said, that economics would follow natural laws. and that with free competition the law of supply and demand would ensure that enough goods would be produced at the lowest prices. and this lead to the idea that the government should not interfere in economic matters. and this is why_ this is one reason why no laws were passed a-at first to put an end to such terrible things as, women and children being made to work long hours i-in factories. however though… th- the situation became so bad that eventually laws were passed. and the first law regulating employment was passed in eighteen nineteen and that banned the employment of children under nine, in cotton mills. under nine years old. and reduced the working hours of those between the age of nine and eighteen to, no more than twelve hours a day. by the middle o-of the nineteenth century things had become much better. with workers only permitted to work ten hours a day. but, life was still very hard, and wages were still very low. and there was always the chance of unemployment, due to, a variety of reasons, economic slump or failure of a business, and that could lead to tremendous hardship. and could even lead to death by starvation for for many, uh, working people.