Progress and Poverty: An Economic and Social History of Britain, 1700-1850

By M. J. Daunton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8 Furnaces, Forges, and Mines

The debate on rural industrialization and its metamorphosis into factory production ignores trades, in both town and country, which were based upon fixed, centralized plant. These included some of the most important industries of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries: the mining of coal and minerals such as iron, lead, tin, and copper; the smelting of ores in furnaces and their refining in forges; the processing of domestic and imported agricultural commodities by sugar-refiners, leather-tanners, seed-crushers, flour-millers, maltsters, brewers, and distillers; and the production of salt, paper, and glass. Although the dynamic of growth in plant-based trades was very different from protoindustrial industries, they were often mutually dependent. The nail-makers of the west Midlands, cutlers of Sheffield, and the producers of buckles, buttons, and small metal goods of Birmingham could only grow by specialization because their supplies of iron, steel, copper, and brass were freed from restraints through the use of coal as a source of heat in furnaces and forges. The impact of the 'modernized' sector was much greater than is suggested by the low proportion of the work-force directly employed, for a change in the supply of materials to domestic workers disrupted the existing social relations of production in the 'traditional' sectors.

The growth of plant-based industries rested on the application of greater amounts of both mechanical and heat energy. Mechanical energy was used for operating millstones, rollers, and hammers in order to grind grains, crush seeds, pound clay, cut bar iron, roll sheets of metal, pump water, and raise coal and minerals from mines. Horse, wind, and water power had long been used, and there were fewer technical difficulties in substituting steam than in textile factories, which needed a regular, constant source of power. Whether it made economic sense depended on whether a bottle-neck existed. In some cases, there was no point in speeding up the processing of materials, for a water-powered 'pug mill' could process enough clay to keep the potters at work; in other cases,

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Progress and Poverty: An Economic and Social History of Britain, 1700-1850
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Contents ix
  • List of Figures xi
  • List of Tables xiii
  • Chapter I - Introduction: the Possibilities of Growth 1
  • Notes 19
  • Further Reading 21
  • Part I - Agriculture and Rural Society 23
  • Chapter 2 - Agricultural Production: the Limits of Growth? 25
  • Conclusion 56
  • Notes 57
  • Further Reading 58
  • Chapter 3 - The Rise of the Great Estates and the Decline of the Yeoman 61
  • Notes 87
  • Further Reading 88
  • Chapter 4 - Open Fields and Enclosure: the Demise of Commonality 92
  • Notes 117
  • Further Reading 119
  • Part II - Industry and Urban Society 123
  • Chapter 5 - Diversities of Industrialization 125
  • Notes 145
  • Further Reading 146
  • Chapter 6 - The Domestic System of Manufactures 148
  • Conclusion 169
  • Notes 170
  • Further Reading 171
  • Chapter 7 - The Coming of the Factory 201
  • Chapter 8 - Furnaces, Forges, and Mines 206
  • Conclusion 232
  • Further Reading 234
  • Chapter 9 - Capital and Credit: Financing Industrialization 260
  • Further Reading 261
  • Part III - Integrating the Economy 265
  • Chapter 10 - Integration and Specialization 267
  • Notes 283
  • Further Reading 283
  • Chapter II - Transport 285
  • Conclusion 314
  • Notes 314
  • Chapter 12 - Merchants and Marketing 318
  • Conclusion 338
  • Notes 338
  • Further Reading 339
  • Chapter 13 - Banks and Money 342
  • Conclusion 357
  • Notes 358
  • Further Reading 359
  • Further Reading 361
  • Further Reading 382
  • Further Reading 383
  • Part IV - Poverty, Prosperity, and Population 385
  • Chapter 15 - Births, Marriages, and Deaths 387
  • Notes 415
  • Further Reading 416
  • Chapter 16 - The Standard of Living and the Social History of Wages 441
  • Chapter 17 - Poor Relief and Charity 447
  • Notes 471
  • Further Reading 472
  • Part V - Public Policy and the State 475
  • Chapter 18 - The Visible Hand: the State and the Economy 477
  • Notes 502
  • Further Reading 503
  • Chapter 19 - Taxation and Public Finance 507
  • Further Reading 530
  • Further Reading 530
  • Notes 557
  • Further Reading 558
  • Chapter 21 - Conclusion 565
  • Notes 566
  • Chronology 567
  • Statistical Appendix 573
  • Index 591
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