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The Industrial Revolution

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(#107 in the series of GOF’s concise history tutorials.)

This Tutorial is for advanced students of English history and concentrates on lesser known precursers to the Industrial Revolution, as well as events occurring during the period 1760-1860.

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The Industrial Revolution is arguably England’s greatest gift to humanity if one disregards Fergie The Duchess of York.

England was for one hundred years truly the “workshop of the world”.

Before it got really serious about progress, England did a lot of messing about by habitually engaging in verbal abuse-slinging and nautical combat with anyone across the Channel who spoke English with a foreign accent.

Prior to the Revolution, England’s economy was based on;

1. Agriculture

2. International trade through it’s East India Company.

3. Currency exchange with the Spanish.

Spain had established numerous depots along the Pacific coast of South America, with Headquarters at Valparaiso.
The native Indians had invited the Spanish to their countries by sending urgent morse-coded smoke signals across the Atlantic Ocean, because they were feeling incredibly guilty about owning mountains of gold and silver, and they wanted to give a lot of it away to purge their wealthy third-world guilt.

English Merchant Banker, Sir Francis Drake operated a mobile banking ship called The Golden Hind.  Twice a year he would depart Plymouth harbour and set sail for these Spanish settlements to negotiate a bullion exchange rate.

Agreement was normally reached withing ten rather noisy minutes of him either anchoring in the harbour, or occasionally intercepting a Spanish galleon overloaded with gilded treasure on the high seas.

The exchange rate in 1578 averaged one ton of Spanish gold for each two tons of English cannonballs, with the latter being delivered in advance by fusillade.
In 1579, however, the rate blew out to three tons of cannonballs, which sent the FTSE 100 into rapid decline, closely followed by the Dow Jones, which threatened to send the entire world economy on a journey of discovery back up into the darkness of it’s own fiscal quoit.

English ingenuity and enthusiasm powered the Industrial Revolution, which was largely based upon cotton spinning and weaving.
Spinning was traditionally women’s work.
Weaving was done by men.
This division of labour had nothing to do with the fact that spinning was more tedious and took five times longer than the weaving.

It is just the natural order of things that the men should sit under a shady tree for 4 hours out of five despairingly wondering why women took so long to do anything.

One day in 1764 James Hargreaves was “despairingly wondering” and absentmindedly inserting a fresh wad of Cuban tobacco into his pipe when he heard an almighty crash inside the house.
Daughter Jenny, kinda big for her size, being all of one and a half pick-handles across the beam, had accidentally sent her spinning wheel flying arse over turkey in a mad rush to get up out of her chair and accompany her bladder to the rest room in time.

James, surveying the carnage, had an unusual moment of inventive inspiration and wheezily ran out to his workshop with spit dribbling out of the pipe onto his whiskery chin, before setting to work building a vastly more efficient multi-spindled spinning wheel which the world still knows at the “Spinning Jenny”.

Americans missed the early Revolution bus.

They were distracted by a couple of domestic issues.

The full time hooter had not yet sounded in the Rumble of the Century between the North and the South.
Also, instead of applying the new-fangled steam power to factory use like the English had done, some thrill-seeker instead mounted the engines on wheels and proceeded to aimlessly cavort hither and thither Amtrakking around the countryside on roads of steel.

Additionally, Americans at this time were still very busy redecorating the house, by sprucing up the interior and Western sector with a fresh shade of people.
This project so impressed Australians that they went on to rapidly adopt the same colour scheme for their entire continent.

The Industrial Revolution would of course have begun in Australia had Captain Cook not wasted so much time farnarkling around  the Pacific Ocean in the seventeen hundreds looking for us.

While we were waiting for him to arrive, we were busy inventing and manufacturing curved sticks that come back to you every time you try to throw them away, and genetically engineering chooks into emus to satisfy the growing domestic market for banquet-sized drumsticks.

In order to take advantage of this Aussie gift of innovative brilliance, England exported boatloads of it’s finest industrial and designer minds to the brand new colony of New South Wales in what became known as “The First Fleet”.

In the twenty-first century, Australian inventive ingenuity continues to illuminate the worlds technological achievements like an otoscope lighting up an ear canal full of wigs and wax, except that our excessive Government charges and administrative red tape now means that all our good ideas are sold off cheaply to China for development, manufacture and profit-taking.

Thank you for your attendance at this Tutorial.

GOF will now be available to answer any questions on the subject.

He will also be on high alert for any suspicious looking postal items arriving from England or Spain or South America or the USA or from women, or the British Royal Family or the Golden Hind Historical Society.

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The entire semester of academic learning may be accessed via the “history tutorials” tab at the top of the page.


About GOF

"Life is like a sewer. What you get out of it, depends upon what you put into it." (Tom Lehrer)

28 responses »

  1. Question 1: Where in the world do you come up with this stuff?

    Question 2: What *does happen when you cross the bad temper of a rooster with a bird large enough to devour your children?

    Lastly, a statement, glad to see you back. 😉

    Reply
    • Question 1 answer; It might be difficult to believe, but 50% actually comes from diligent research.
      The other 50% comes from some place which has baffled a succession of my psychiatrists all of whom eventually admitted themselves to the Terminally Bewildered Funny farm leaving me all alone with what’s left of my sanity.

      Question 2 answer; You get large “different-tasting” drumsticks that are extremely popular with cannibals, and a deficiency of children in the general population Emmy.

      And finally….thank you. Nice to be back.

      Reply
      • It’s clear you do dilligent research, although between my history deficiency and my extreme gullibility (I know I’ll regret admitting both of those) I get confused easily. Still love these tutorials though, keep ’em going.

        So do the cannibals compete with the Giant Roosteremus for their snack? ;D

        Reply
        • “So do the cannibals compete with the Giant Roosteremus for their snack?”

          Not directly any more Emmy…..the cannibals found it more convenient and less messy going down to the BIG C takeaway shop and buying a McRoosteremu fillet burger.

          Reply
  2. “purge their wealthy third-world guilt.”

    Ahahahahaaaa! Brilliantly deranged as usual GOF. Love it.

    Reply
  3. “The exchange rate in 1578 averaged one ton of Spanish gold for each two tons of English cannonballs, with the latter being delivered in advance by fusillade.”
    ROTFLOL

    “Additionally, Americans at this time were still very busy redecorating the house, by sprucing up the interior and Western sector with a fresh shade of people. This project so impressed Australians that they went on to rapidly adopt the same colour scheme for their entire continent.”
    STOP IT!!! You’re killing me!

    “all our good ideas are sold off cheaply to China for development, manufacture and profit-taking.”
    Us Yanks are feelin’ ya on that count…

    Dang. If history had been made as entertaining as your tutorials, I’d have gotten much better marks in school.

    Reply
    • Thank you kimkiminy.

      “If history had been made as entertaining as your tutorials, I’d have gotten much better marks in school.”

      I missed out on history at school so I am enjoying this opportunity in later life to learn about all of these things, and to then reorganise the facts and totally massacre them.

      It is very rewarding to know that a small handful of friends here actually find something interesting or entertaining in my version of history.

      Reply
  4. My old history professors would probably love to make mincemeat out of you, if they were still around. 😉

    I do love your explanation of why women had to spin thread while men did the weaving, however. I tried spinning once, and it struck me as one of those tasks that would drive one mad unless you had a huge tolerance for tedium or had no other choice.

    My real-life name isn’t Jenny, btw.

    Reply
    • “My old history professors would probably love to make mincemeat out of you, if they were still around.”

      Or vice versa as the case may be. 🙂

      It is hard these days to imagine just how tedious the work would have been in the spinning and weaving factories…..and as MT has subsequently commented, a lot of the work was also apparently done by child labor.

      Reply
  5. I am so grateful for your diligent research, GOF. I would have otherwise gone through life in blissful ignorance of the above events. Until you enlightened me, I had always believed that spinning Jenny was an olde English parlour game where the unfortunate Jenny was repeatedly spun until collapsing on the floor. Bets were laid on which direction Jenny would fall. And that is why the name “Jenny” became less popular, resulting in a shortage of Jennies to use in the game, and so the English took out their frustrations on the French which led to the Napoleonic wars. And that led to the derisive term “Napoleon” being used for the cloth that held babies poo. It was later shortened to “Nappy”. Just thought I’d mention that in passing.

    Reply
    • Thank you Snowy. It is an honour to have you contribute such knowledgeable supplementary information, particularly in regard to the Spinning Jenny Parlour Game. Eminent social researcher Sir Warwick Sidebottom published a paper in 1937 with the astonishing evidence that 43% of all spinning Jennies ended up on the floor pointing towards true magnetic North.
      He made no mention of Nappies.

      Reply
  6. We were taught weaving was largely done by children of all ages–they were small enough to climb under the large machines. Of course it’s still going on!

    http://asms.k12.ar.us/classes/humanities/amstud/97-98/childlab/childlab.htm

    Reply
  7. Cassowaries must be the rejects from the emu research.

    And … I have yet to see an actual Australian curved stick really return to the thrower. Of course, the only experience I have with them is the cheap plastic ones made when I was younger. they were more apt to scalp someone than anything else.

    Reply
    • I think cassowaries might have evolved when a stray turkey inserted itself into the breeding program.

      Boomerang throwing is a real art (not that I’ve mastered it) and the mass produced plastic ones are pretty useless. A good quality carved wooden one has a greater chance of performing it’s magic.

      Reply
  8. I do adore your history lessons. James Cook Uni should name a professorial chair in your honour!

    Reply
    • Thank you FD…..the only chair I’d be given at James Cook Uni is the one in the gardener’s shed hidden down in the bottom corner.

      Reply
  9. I so wish my History classes had been this entertaining at school. LOL @ “..mobile banking ship called The Golden Hind” and I love your theory on the development of the emu!

    Reply
  10. Oh my gosh! I almost missed this! I had “saved” it in my emails to come back and read when I had time to really concentrate on it…then it got lost!
    So glad I found it again.

    Love it! I do think you could publish your own history books!

    Spinning Jenny. Bahahahaha!

    Reply
    • I’m beginning to have moral regrets about starting this series Lauri. According to the “search terms” which lead people to my blog, 90% of them are now arriving looking for serious information about history. (the remaining 10% are still chasing my “bouncing tits”) The guilt of misleading studious twelve year-olds is almost overwhelming. Almost, but not quite. 🙂

      Reply
  11. Brilliant as usual and some very pointed (and accurate) social commentary.

    Opening with the Fergie line had me hooked right from the get go.

    Reply
  12. Pingback: The Industrial Revolution (via The Bucket) « 1petermcc's Blog

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