The manufacture of military munitions and the development of
a home market were critical underpinnings of the first industrial
revolution in Britain. Military manufacturing supported by the British
Government contributed directly to technological innovation and
spurred industrialization. This is because the companies that choose
to fulfill the government contracts to make military munitions found
money could be made if new processes and technology was developed to
fulfill the huge contracts.
Military manufacturing was one of the few
industries where innovation was rewarded. In most other industries
conservative investors were reluctant to invest in new manufacturing
technology. But in military manufacturing the government was the
investor and was unconcerned with the manufacturing technology as long
as the product was delivered on time. Many technological advances were
made through military manufacturing some of these were new ways to
manufacture iron, conveyer belts, and the use machine tools .
technology developed for military manufacturing then spilled over into
the civilian sector of the economy. And because it was now a tested
technology investors who were normally cautious were willing to put
their capital into these ventures which instead of pouring iron to
make guns now made iron ore into stoves and pots.
The second critical underpinning of the first industrial
revolution was the development of a home market in Britain. The
first British industrialists manufactured textiles; specifically
cotton for the home market.
The growth of the home market in Britain
promoted industrialization in several ways. First, it was a steady
market which able to cushion the export market which was very dynamic
and had sudden fluctuations. This allowed a steady rate of growth even
when exports fell. Second, the home market started the process of
urbanization by causing people to leave the agricultural sector of the
economy and move to the cities to work in the cotton and textile
This urbanization had a snowballing effect throughout the
economy because it caused other business and factories to open in the
cities to support this new urban class. Third, the home market caused
investments to be made in improving infrastructure including roads,
bridges and canals. This paved the way for industrialization which
needed an efficient system to transport goods from factory to market.
The home market also provided the base for other industries such as
This was because the home market created greater urbanization
and thus the need for coal in urban England grew. The military sector
of the economy provided some of the key technological innovations that
promoted industrialization. And the home market that was produced by
the cotton textile trade promoted improvements in infrastructure
and spurred other industries to develop.