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The Industrial Revolution in London

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The industrial revolution occurred in Britain during this period hence London which was the largest manufacturing center at that time experienced the same. This happened in two phases beginning with the first industrial revolution that begun in the 18th century and the second around 1850. During this period, there was a massive improvement in transport technology from the use of animals and sails to introduction of railways, canals and better roads.

These affected the development of London during this period in a number of ways;

It led to growth in trade as many people moved from rural areas to the city due to change in the economy from relying on agriculture as the main source of income to manufacturing; hence, increased population in London. The large population worked in industries and also provided a ready market for finished industrial products leading to trade expansion.

It enhanced faster, cheaper and safer transport of bulk raw materials and finished goods within and outside London city hence faster exchange, which hastened economic growth.

It also enhanced faster movement and exchange of new ideas, businessmen and mails into and out of the city which led to increased economic growth.

During this period (18th century), there was a rapid growth of the town that established the ‘Metropolitan Police’ to govern the city. As the city continued to grow, the Metropolitan Board of Works (MBW), which was the first metropolitan government body was established in 1855 to help provide the city with sufficient infrastructure to match its rapid growth.

This body is remarked for improving sanitization of drinking water from River Thames by building a sewerage system hence helping reduce death counts caused by cholera, and other water borne diseases. This helped to enhance economic development since healthy people were more productive.

The MBW was later replaced by the London County Council, in 1988, which was more of an administrative body that helped in maintaining law and order in the city and to help reduce crime  which was at a high rate, hence encouraging trading activities.

In the early 17th century, the number of blacks increased in London due to the tri-continental slave trade that resulted in blacks from West Africa and South Asia being taken to London as slaves. These slaves provided cheap labor, which led to more industrial output at lower costs leading to trade expansion.

The few free slaves ended up as beggars as they lacked jobs because of racial discrimination. Apart from blacks, there was also presence of Jews, Germans and Irish among others. Movements to eliminate racism and slavery were common at the time. Later, immigration restrictions were put in place which reduced the immigration rate in London. However, the London born blacks were able to fit in the society and even get jobs while others started businesses which led to economic development in London.

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