Traditionally, the British "Industrial Revolution" has been seen as a sudden transformation that began in the late eighteenth century, founded on the rapid take-off of the cotton mills and steam power. But if we look at testimonies from this "industrial age," it is possible to find other voices, saying things that we might not expect. This book, the first of its kind, explores some of these "forgotten voices."It looks at people who continued to believe in the viability of manufactures in homes and small workshops, despite the rise of the factories; at those who linked industrial success with protectionism rather than free trade; and at the contemporary discussion of short-term booms and slumps. There were signs of a belief that the rise of manufactures had been gradual, since the reign of Elizabeth I; and there were even claims that British industry was in decline.Drawing on sources that include parliamentary debates and the correspondence of politicians, a new picture is presented of a time when rival perceptions of manufactures were in conflict, in a struggle that determined which views would be marginalised, and which would go on to form our traditional account of the "Industrial Revolution."
Dr Will Hardy has taught as an associate lecturer for The Open University in London since 1996. Before this, he gained a double-first for his degree in History at Cambridge University, and a doctorate in History at Oxford University. He has a long-running research interest in the contemporary perception of industrial change in Britain between the 1780s and the 1840s.