History KS3 & KS4/GCSE: The growth of industry and factory towns in Britain

Today we take factories for granted but in the 1700s they represented a completely new way of working.

Until this time most work was done in the home or in small workshops. Birmingham’s metal trades saw the development of new factories like the one at Soho.

Birmingham began to pour out metal goods which its merchants traded around the world – weapons, tools, household goods.

Birmingham’s factories were also producing toys and trinkets like polished buttons or brooches.

In the course of the 1700s Birmingham rose from a small town of about 7000 people to the third largest city in the country in 1800, and it would continue to grow.

This short film is from the BBC series, Why the Industrial Revolution Happened Here.

Teacher Notes

This short film could be used to provide an overview of Birmingham's development as an industrial centre, and as a prelude to an in-depth study of a key individual figure, such as the manufacturer and businessman Mathew Boulton.

You could challenge your students to design an advertisement for Birmingham Council which aims to encourage businessmen to set up new factories in Birmingham.

Explain how the town is already a hotbed of industry and why this would be a good place to build a new industry.

Curriculum Notes

This short film is suitable for teaching history at Key Stage 3 and GCSE, Third Level and National 4 & 5, in particular units on the Victorians and the Industrial Revolution.

More from Why the Industrial Revolution Happened Here:

Josiah Wedgwood: Genius of the Industrial Revolution
The brains behind the Industrial Revolution
The importance of coal in the Industrial Revolution
The transport revolution: Britain's canal network
Why did Britain need a better road network?