Coalbrookdale in Shropshire was the Industrial Revolution’s ‘Silicon Valley’, with Abraham Darby I, II and III, the tech titans of their day. The first Abraham pioneered the use of coal in iron-smelting, and the industrial use of Newcomen’s steam engine. The third Abraham constructed (from cast-iron) the revolutionary Iron Bridge. The late Stuart period had seen the beginning of Britain’s scientific enlightenment, with the work of Newton and others spurring the ferment of innovation that propelled industrial take-off. The vastly greater energy resources liberated by the use of coal and steam were harnessed through a plethora of mechanical inventions. Cotton manufacturing was transformed first by the Flying Shuttle (1733), then the Spinning Jenny (1779). Economies of scale were realized by the creation of massive factories and foundries, deploying power tools and regimented division of labour. The revolution was also social, with massive urbanization and a doubling of the population during the century.
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