The Industrial Revolution

18th - 19th Centuries

Coal, Steam, and The Industrial Revolution: Crash Course World History #32

Rationale for teaching the Industrial Revolution

  • In the National Curriculum for year 9 History under ‘Making a better world?’ (ACARA, n.d.).
  • Industrial revolution played a big part on shaping modern society
  • Students should have a sound understanding of how historical events influence their modern society, environment, gadgets, cars etc.
  • Industrial revolution is in the year 9 curriculum, however, if doing a unit on inventions in middle-upper primary, if the student interest is there, the Industrial Revolution would be easily woven in.
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Curriculum Links - taken from ACARA (n.d.).

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(ACARA, n.d.)

Background information

  • Took place from the 18th to 19th centuries
  • Began in Britain in the late 1700s
  • Prior to this, manufacturing was often done in people’s homes
  • Shift to powered, special-purpose machinery, factories and mass production
  • Improved systems of transportation, communication and banking were developed
  • In the 1700s, a series of innovations led to increased productivity while requiring less human energy e.g. around 1764 the spinning mule was invented which was the first of many innovations – particularly in terms of textiles
  • Both iron and steel became essential materials, used to make everything from appliances, tools and machines, to ships, buildings and infrastructure.

(A&E Television Networks, 2014)

Link between gold rush and Industrial Revolution

  • Colonisation brought the industrial revolution to Australia
  • Between 1852 and 1875, the ss Great Britain made 32 round trips to Australia bringing 15,000 passengers – an example of how industrialisation was already influencing society
  • The diggings area at Sovereign Hill represents the early years on the goldfields and displays pre-industrial technology, as work is done using human or horse power
  • During the 1850s, miners on the Victorian goldfields drew on the knowledge they had acquired in Industrial Britain - introducing steam-powered machinery to perform work that was too difficult for human or horse power
  • Sovereign Hill has the largest collection of working steam-driven machinery in Victoria.

(Sovereign Hill Education, 2013)

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Impacts on modern society

  • Transportation saw many developments during the Industrial Revolution including steamboats, steam trains - for both goods, and passengers
  • Communication became easier during the Industrial Revolution thanks to inventions such as the telegraph
  • In 1866, a telegraph cable was successfully laid across the Atlantic
  • The Industrial Revolution also saw the rise of banks and industrial financiers, as well as a factory system dependent on owners and managers
  • A stock exchange was established in London in the 1770s
  • Quality of life for those who labored in factories was low and working conditions could be dangerous
  • Unskilled workers had little job security and were easily replaceable.
  • Children were part of the labor force
  • Conditions for Britain’s working-class began to improve in the late 19th century, as the government introduced various labor reforms and workers gained the right to form trade unions
  • Since the 250 years from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution to today, the world human population has increased by six billion people
  • It was fossil fuel coal that fuelled the Industrial Revolution, which propelled human progress, but came at extraordinary costs to our environment

(Ecology Communications Group, Inc. 2014)

  • Unemployment rates were high in Britain during the Industrial Revolution as urban population was increasing – people from farming areas were flocking to urbanised areas
  • Many of those unemployed were skilled workers, in art forms that were no longer necessary thanks to the machinery that was being invented and used instead – similar to some things that are happening to our society now e.g. the self-serve kiosks at supermarkets
  • Poverty was on the rise especially for the lower class
  • Cities were developed as people migrated from villages into smaller towns, the smaller towns developed into cities
  • Urbanisation had negative impacts as well – towns and cities became overcrowded, dirty and polluted due to the vast number of factories being developed close to each other
  • The densely packed and overcrowded towns/cities contributed to the fast spread of disease and illness – in 1841 average life expectancy in London was 37, and 26 in Liverpool
  • Industrialisation saw the role of the family change
  • The middle class was born. It was no longer that there was only the aristocratic society, and lower class/poorer people.
  • New urban industries gradually required more of what we call today “white collar” jobs, such as business people, shopkeepers, bank clerks, insurance agents, merchants, accountants, managers, doctors, lawyers, and teachers

(Unknown, n.d.).

Resources to use in a classroom

Unit outline - Industrial Revolution

A unit outline to teach the Industrial Revolution to children aged 12-16, complete with learning intentions and activities.

Within These Walls - interactive

Interactive website that lets students explore a house built in the 1700's and to discuss the living conditions.


ACARA, (n.d.). History Curriculum. Retrieved from

A&E Television Networks, (2014). Industrial Revolution. Retrieved from

Ecology Communications Group, Inc. (2014). The Ecological Impact of the Industrial Revolution. Retrieved from

Gascoigne, B. (n.d.). “History of the Industrial Revolution” HistoryWorld. Retrieved from

IP Australia, (n.d.). Industrial Revolution. Retrieved from

ReadWriteThink, (n.d.). Timeline. Retrieved from -

Smithsonian National Museum of American History, (n.d.). Within These Walls. Retrieved from

Sovereign Hill Education, (2013). The Industrial Revolution in Australia. Retrieved from

Timetoast, (n.d.). Inventions of the Industrial Revolution 1800 – 1920. Retrieved from

Unknown (n.d.). Effects of the Industrial Revolution. Retrieved from