Industrial development

Industrial economy

There was a growth in manufacturing industries that supplied slave traders. Demand grew for goods such as guns, alcohol, pots, pans and textiles that were exchanged for captured Africans on the Outward Passage.

Profits from the slave trade were invested in the development of British industries. Canals and railways too were built as a result of investment of profits from the slave trade.

Wealth generated by the slave trade meant that domestic taxes could be kept low which further stimulated investment. However, by the end of the 18th century the slave trade had become less important in economic terms. It has been argued that only a small percentage of the profits from the slave trade were directly invested as capital in the industrial revolution.

There were other factors that contributed to industrial development in the UK:

  • Technological change brought new, cheaper, quicker and more efficient processes and manufacturing
  • The development of water and steam powered the Industrial Revolution. This powered the new machines for both spinning and weaving and led to the rapid spread of factories
  • Transport changes in the form of the canals and railways allowed heavy goods to be carried easily and cheaply
  • Increased production of coal and iron powered factories provided the fuel and materials for more manufacturing

Agricultural economy

Britain gradually changed between 1700 and 1850 from being mainly an agricultural economy, where people lived in the countryside, to mainly an industrial economy where people lived in cities. Changes in agriculture included:

  • enclosure
  • mechanisation
  • crop rotation
  • selective breeding

These changes helped create a food surplus. In turn this could feed an expanding population. This produced a labour force in the towns for use in factories and created a financial surplus for investment in industry and infrastructure.