Once the Kingdom of Great Britain was established as such, various innovations in science and engineering meant that it progressed significantly. Various English initiatives and the Scottish Enlightenment played major roles in this development. Eventually, the British Empire became the largest of its kind ever in history.
The British Empire drove the Industrial Revolution, which led to a dramatic improvement in the living and economic conditions of the country.
Vintage engraving showing a scene from 19th Century London England. Showing the steam cranes at Limehouse Dock
Farming, mining, engineering and manufacturing were all affected hugely by this revolution as advanced equipment was used and in demand. The infrastructure of the land was also improved exponentially as roads, railway tracks and waterways were constructed for transportation of goods and people. In 1761, the Bridgewater Canal was opened. This pioneered the development of a canal system throughout England. 1825 was another prominent year as this was when the Stockton and Darlington Railway was opened. This was the first permanent steam locomotive-hauled passenger railway in the world.
The Industrial Revolution lured potential workers from the farming areas of the countryside into the city centres to get higher paying jobs within the industrial centres. Even the farming industry was revolutionised as tools and implements took on new and more efficient dimensions (often negating the need for as many labourers as before and forcing these ones into the cities in search of jobs).
The concept of Britain’s strength and fortitude was reinforced by its relative stability throughout the French Revolution as well as its conquering of the Napoleonic forces (during the Napoleonic Wars) by both Lord Nelson (at sea) and the Duke of Wellington (on land). The united forces of Britain, Wales and Scotland felt a sense of invincibility as they remained victorious. Trade within Britain became a prestigious privilege and its navy and military forces were well respected the world over.
When World War I began in 1914, English soldiers fought for the United Kingdom as part of the Allies. Thousands of these troops were killed in battle. Despite this loss, England assumed the same role in World War II some 20 years later. After these wars, the development of technology (especially automobile-related technology) progressed in leaps and bounds.