“The industrial revolution” before the time

Chronic ” Research “. We have all learned in our textbooks of history and economy, that the industrial revolution began in England at the turn of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries, thanks to the scattering from 1775 steam engine of Watt heated with coal and, from 1779, of the power looms of Samuel Crompton (mule-jenny). The discovery of coal deposits in the vicinity of Manchester would, therefore, be allowed the cotton industry to mass-produce at a low price in shops soon called to become a huge ” factories “.

But the recent work of Joel Mokyr (Northwestern University), Assaf Sarid (university of Haifa) and Karine van der Beek (Ben-Gurion university) tell a different story, that came to present Karine van der Beek during a seminar at the School of economics, Paris, 10 October (” Wheels of change : Skill-biased factor endowments and industrialization in eighteenth century England “, not published).

These researchers have indeed found that the textile production, and not only that of cotton, begins to explode as early as 1740. Wool is the raw material for the great majority, before the cotton catches up with her in the first decades of the Nineteenth century – after the industrial revolution – and then goes beyond it. In addition, this expansion earlier occurs in all regions that concentrate textile production since… the Middle Ages : the region Manchester is one of them !

Fouloirs mechanical thanks to the mills

Going back in time, the researchers note that, in the Fourteenth century, while production was previously dispersed at the discretion of the human settlements, the pressing foot of the sheet of wool – an operation designed to slim and lasts an average of thirty hours ! – is replaced by fouloirs mechanical using hydraulic power of water mills,…

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