In 1901, Britain led the world in manufacturing and industry after great expansion and developments during the 19th century. There was an increase in international trade, export successes across the Empire and a new demand for consumer goods from the growing middle-classes. The coal, iron, steel and engineering industries created great wealth and, in turn, were major employers for Britain’s highly-urbanized population. Increased industrialization and a growing economy also drove an increased demand for coal. There were more miners and coal was responsible for a tenth of all exports from Britain. Along with great iron production – particularly cast iron – new technology had created a growth in steel production and export, notably facilitating an increase in ship construction and rail networks, as well as mechanical advances in farming. Copper and tin mining in Wales and the southwest, established since the Bronze Age, was in decline, however, a casualty of the discovery of new resources in Australia, Malaya and Bolivia.
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