The roots of the Industrial Revolution stretch back into the 1600's and by the 1700's the British were gaining a reputation for invention. About twenty percent of workers were employed full- or part-time in manufacturing. Initially, textiles, clothes, leather goods and small metal products were produced in the home. Larger industries were founded by communities that were established around mines and quarries. Late in the 18th century textiles were produced in centralised water-powered factories that were established next to rivers.
Before the twentieth century there were many and various trades that were carried out by the working man that are largely unknown today. Examples from the West Midlands literature include stocking-making, glove making, felt-making, paper-making, flax dressing, pig keeping, wool-combing, wool-stapling, rubber collecting, making of bleaching-powder, pin making, coopering, hedging, thatching and smithery.
Other occupations mentioned in the West Midlands literature and which are fairly common today are those held by the carpenter, draper, hosier, milliner, haberdasher, mercer, weaver, bookbinder, cobbler, potter, baker, sheepshearer, fisherman, farmer and miner.
Issues pursued by West midlands authors follow the struggle of the working class, exploitation by business and trade union, the misplaced pride of the upper classes and moral lessons to be learnt from being employed.
These and other topics are addressed amongst the themes on page two.
The following books, available in the West Midlands Creative Literature Collection, discuss topics relevant to the theme of industry. The book marked with an asterisk(*) is also available to download from this web site.
The life of William Hutton*, particularly relevant for its account of the 1791 riots in Birmingham. (1816)
The blacksmith's daughter (1985)
Lock keeper's daughter (1986)
My old man the Gasman (1998)
Further information on industry can be obtained by following the links to other websites.
Page created 13 January 2003 and last
updated 9 August 2005
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