Why Did the Industrial Revolution Start in Europe Instead of China or India?

All the machines and technologies we use today arose from the Industrial Revolution of 1750 – 1850. It transformed many economies and lives, taking masses of people away from the need to be farmers. The core of the Industrial Revolution was the introduction of mass mechanisation and the use of new energy sources to power industry, including coal and steam.

The centre of this transformation was Europe, specifically Britain. Why? 17th-century China and India were as effective as Europe in terms of production and export, and had sophisticated cultures; China had a history of world-changing invention.

There was incentive, because wages in Britain were relatively high; so it made economic sense when the first industrial machine were developed in textile manufacture. Britain used coal, which was plentiful and near the surface. Coal mines flooded and steam engines were used to pump the water out. Those steam engines became central in the activities of the new industries.

Did these factors make the difference? Investigate a bit further and see what you think.

I graduated in English language and literature with Latin subsidiary. I write poetry, act, and have worked in reference and educational publishing for decades. I was commissioned in 1994 to write The Ladybird Book of Kings and Queens, did extensive editing and writing for Harraps 20th-century History series, and was one of the contributors to Helicon's Book of the Millennium, a 4-volume children's world history book.