An Economic and Social History of Britain Since 1700 by M. W. Flinn (auth.)

By M. W. Flinn (auth.)

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Very little of the land was owned by the people who farmed it. During the century before 1700 there was a marked trend towards the concentration of the ownership of land. In the more settled times after the Civil War land was one of the safest investments, and many of those who made fortunes in trade, industry and politics bought landed estates. Probably little more than 10 per cent of the land remained in the possession of owner-occupiers (freeholders farming their own land). Many of these holdings ranged from 30 to 300 acres, though there were some freeholders with smaller holdings - sometimes too small to be economically practicable, forcing the freeholder to supplement the produce of his holding by wage labour.

The application of water or steam power to the loom was a logical step, but the complicated motions of the loom were not easily harnessed to a single shaft. Success came from an unexpected quarter - the Church. '/ I .! One of the first cotton mills, Cromford, Derbyshire, 1771 A stocking frame used in the domestic hosiery industry of the eighteenth century 44 THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION power-loom. It was not rapidly adopted. The causes of thi:s delay were twofold. Firstly, Cartwright's machine was far from perfect, and some years of development were necessary before it could be used commercially on a wide scale.

Cylinder Water jet Furnace Condenser A diagram to show how Watt's steam engine worked Boiler 36 THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION lay in the adaptation of the reciprocating motion of the rocker beam to the rotary motion of a shaft. Boulton realised the possibilities of rotary steam engines from an early date, but it was not until 1781 that Watt produced the invention that paved the way for the powerdriven factory and the locomotive. He was unable to make use of a simple crank and flywheel motion, as another engineer, Pickard, held a patent for that.

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