Industrial Heritage Interactive Timeline

Back

Key industrial dates

  • Barton Aqueduct opens

    The Barton Aqueduct carrying the Bridgewater Canal opens. When the canal reaches Manchester two years later, it halves the price of coal there.

    17 July 1761 Barton Aqueduct opens

    Picture

  • Josiah Wedgwood establishes Etruria Pottery

    Etruria Pottery was established alongside the Trent & Mersey Canal which he promoted.

    1769 Josiah Wedgwood establishes Etruria Pottery

    Picture

  • Patent approved for James Watt's improvements to the steam engine

    James Watt’s improvements allowed steam power to be applied to driving machinery.

    5 January 1769 Patent approved for James Watt's improvements to the steam engine

    Picture

  • Stourport basin opens

    In 1771 Stourport is created as a canal town.

    1 April 1771 Stourport basin opens

    Picture

  • Arkwright advertises for skilled craftsmen to fit out his new mill

    Cromford Mill (World Heritage Site) ushers in the factory system.

    10 December 1771 Arkwright advertises for skilled craftsmen to fit out his new mill

    Picture

  • America declares independence from Britain

    1776 America declares independence from Britain

  • Industrial Revolution Begins

    1780 Industrial Revolution Begins

  • The Iron Bridge opens

    The Iron Bridge (World Heritage Site) was built across the River Severn. The first pair of iron ribs was erected 1 July 1779 and bridge opened New Year’s Day 1781.

    1 January 1781 The Iron Bridge opens

    Picture

  • Steam powered cotton mill invented by Sir Richard Arkwright

    1783 Steam powered cotton mill invented by Sir Richard Arkwright

  • Puddling Furnace developed by Henry Cort

    The Puddling Furnace was developed to produce wrought iron in large quantities.

    1784 Puddling Furnace developed by Henry Cort

    Picture

  • First convict ships are sent to Australia

    1788 First convict ships are sent to Australia

  • Napoleonic Wars

    1793 - 1815 Napoleonic Wars

  • Edward Jenner invented a vaccination against small pox

    1796 Edward Jenner invented a vaccination against small pox

  • First fireproof factory built

    Ditherington Flax Mill, Shrewsbury was built as the first fireproof factory.

    1797 First fireproof factory built

    Picture

  • Ancoats, Manchester develops

    Ancoats, Manchester develops with huge steam-powered cotton mills. A Boulton & Watt steam engine is installed in Murray’s Mill in September 1798.

    September 1798 Ancoats, Manchester develops

    Picture

  • Act of Union with Ireland

    1800 Act of Union with Ireland

  • The first census. Population of Britain 8 million

    1801 The first census. Population of Britain 8 million

  • Richard Trevithick built the first steam locomotive

    1804 Richard Trevithick built the first steam locomotive

  • Lord Nelson defeats Napoleon at the Battle of Trafalgar

    1805 Lord Nelson defeats Napoleon at the Battle of Trafalgar

  • Lord Nelson visits Marc Brunel’s newly operational Block Mills

    Lord Nelson visited Marc Brunel’s Block Mills in Portsmouth immediately before leaving for Trafalgar. The Block mills pioneered mass production and remained a visitor attraction for many years.

    14 September 1805 Lord Nelson visits Marc Brunel’s newly operational Block Mills

    Picture

  • Abolition of Slave Trade

    1807 Abolition of Slave Trade

  • Duke of Wellington defeats Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo

    1815 Duke of Wellington defeats Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo

  • World's first railway opens between Stockton and Darlington

    1825 World's first railway opens between Stockton and Darlington

  • First public locomotive railway opened

    Stockton & Darlington Railway – the first public locomotive railway - opens.

    27 September 1825 First public locomotive railway opened

    Picture

  • Robert Peel set up the Metropolitan Police force

    1829 Robert Peel set up the Metropolitan Police force

  • Inter-city rail transport

    Liverpool & Manchester Railway ushers in inter-city rail transport.

    30 September 1830 Inter-city rail transport

    Picture

  • The Poor Law set up workhouses

    1834 The Poor Law set up workhouses

  • Queen Victoria becomes Queen at the age of 18

    1837 Queen Victoria becomes Queen at the age of 18

  • London & Birmingham Railway opens

    The line was engineered by Robert Stephenson.

    24 June 1838 London & Birmingham Railway opens

    Picture

  • The first postage stamps (Penny Post) came into use

    1840 The first postage stamps (Penny Post) came into use

  • Mines Act ended child labour

    1842 Mines Act ended child labour

  • ss Great Britain launched

    ss Great Britain, built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, was the first iron-hulled, steam-powered oceangoing ship.

    1843 ss Great Britain launched

    Picture

  • Thames Tunnel completed

    Marc Brunel completes the Thames Tunnel at Rotherhithe.

    1843 Thames Tunnel completed

    Picture

  • The Irish Great Potato Famine

    1845 - 1849 The Irish Great Potato Famine

  • Albert Dock, Liverpool opens

    Albert Dock in Liverpool (World Heritage Site) designed by Jesse Hartley opened to shipping February 1845.

    February 1845 Albert Dock, Liverpool opens

    Picture

  • The first post boxes were built

    1850 The first post boxes were built

  • Development of Saltaire Mills begins

    Development of Saltaire Mills and township (World Heritage Site) started by Titus Salt. Salt Mill designed by William Fairbairn opened in 1853 on Titus Salt’s 50th birthday.

    1851 Development of Saltaire Mills begins

    Picture

  • The Great Exhibition

    1851 The Great Exhibition

  • A cholera epidemic led to demands for a clean water supply and proper sewage systems in the big cities

    1854 A cholera epidemic led to demands for a clean water supply and proper sewage systems in the big cities

  • Crimean War

    1854 Crimean War

  • Steel-making process announced by Bessemer

    Bessemer announces his process for steel-making to the British Association for the Advance of Science in Cheltenham, leading eventually to cheap steel.

    1856 Steel-making process announced by Bessemer

    Picture

  • Britain defeats Russia in the Crimean War

    1856 Britain defeats Russia in the Crimean War

  • The first public flushing toilet opens

    1860 The first public flushing toilet opens

  • Death of Prince Albert

    1861 Death of Prince Albert

  • London Underground opens

    1863 London Underground opens

  • Crossness Pumping Station opens in London

    Joseph Bazalgette’s sewer system was constructed in London in 1865 following the Great Stink of 1859 with huge pumping stations at Crossness and Abbey Mills.

    4 April 1865 Crossness Pumping Station opens in London

    Picture

  • Global commerce revolutionised by trans-Atlantic cable

    In 1866 ss Great Eastern, Brunel’s leviathan ship successfully lays the trans-Atlantic cable, revolutionising global commerce.

    29 July 1866 Global commerce revolutionised by trans-Atlantic cable

    Picture

  • The last public hanging

    1868 The last public hanging

  • Joseph Lister discovers disinfectant

    1868 Joseph Lister discovers disinfectant

  • The first Sainsbury's shop open in Dury Lane, London

    1869 The first Sainsbury's shop open in Dury Lane, London

  • Education Act means school for everyone

    1870 Education Act means school for everyone

  • Queen Victoria opens the Albert Hall

    1871 Queen Victoria opens the Albert Hall

  • Anderton Boat Lift opens

    Anderton Boat Lift, Cheshire, designed by Edwin Clark and E Leader Williams, opens to traffic.

    26 July 1875 Anderton Boat Lift opens

    Picture

  • Alexander Bell invented the telephone

    1876 Alexander Bell invented the telephone

  • The first public electric lighting in London

    1877 The first public electric lighting in London

  • First electric railway

    1883 First electric railway

  • The invention of the gramophone

    1887 The invention of the gramophone

  • Free education for every child

    1891 Free education for every child

  • Manchester Ship Canal opens

    Manchester Ship Canal, connecting Manchester with the Mersey Estuary, opens.

    1 January 1894 Manchester Ship Canal opens

    Picture

  • Tower Bridge opens

    Tower Bridge, London opened on June 30 by the Prince of Wales to engineering designs of Sir John Wolfe Barry.

    30 June 1894 Tower Bridge opens

    Picture

  • Population of Britain 40 million

    1901 Population of Britain 40 million

  • The first old age pension

    1902 The first old age pension

  • Britain defeats Dutch settlers in Boer War in South Africa

    1902 Britain defeats Dutch settlers in Boer War in South Africa

  • HMS Dreadnought launched

    HMS Dreadnought launched 10 February by King Edward VII epitomising British shipbuilding and naval prowess.

    10 February 1906 HMS Dreadnought launched

    Picture

  • The Middlesborough Transporter Bridge opens

    The Middlesborough Tranporter Bridge – the largest in the world - built by Sir Wm Arrol & Co of Glasgow and opened 17 October by Prince Arthur of Connaught.

    17 October 1911 The Middlesborough Transporter Bridge opens

    Picture

  • Coal production peaks

    Coal production peaks across the UK at 287 million tons, some 1,000,000 workers employed in the industry in 2,600 collieries.

    1913 Coal production peaks

    Picture

  • First World War

    1914 - 1918 First World War

  • Republic of Ireland gains independence

    1920 Republic of Ireland gains independence

  • First television transmitter erected at Alexandra Palace

    World's first television transmitter erected at Alexandra Palace in London trialling the 240 and 405 line systems. The latter was chosen in 1937 for general broadcasts.

    1936 First television transmitter erected at Alexandra Palace

    Picture

  • Sir Frank Whittle invents the Jet Engine

    1937 Sir Frank Whittle invents the Jet Engine

  • The Second World War

    1939 - 1945 The Second World War

  • Britain’s code-breaking intelligence centre established

    Bletchley Park was bought in 1938 by Naval Intelligence. This lead to the invention of the first computer – the prototype Colossus. Mark 2 Colossus computer becomes operational on 1 June 1944.

    15 August 1939 Britain’s code-breaking intelligence centre established

    Picture