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Impact of the Industrial Revolution on British Architecture

Info: 6930 words (28 pages) Dissertation
Published: 20th Aug 2021

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Tagged: ArchitectureHistory

1. Abstract

The aim of the dissertation is to primarily explore and gain an understanding of the industrial revolution and its impact it had on British architecture. On this basis an analysis into why Britain was first to be industrialised will be researched using credible resources from premier historians and distinguished professors.

The industrial revolution brought revolutionary engineering achievements. The birth of the steam engine by Thomas Newcomen, for example will be concisely analysed as well as the improvements introduced by inventor James Watt which were fundamental to the success of the industrial revolution.

The research question will also be investigated with regard to the relationship between architecture and material during the Industrial Revolution. Through research and analysis of the case studies, Crystal Palace in London and Iron Bridge in Coalbrookdale, the dissertation aims to show a direct link into how the industrial revolution bought about the developments and innovations of architectural design. This research will highlight their significance in the realm of architecture, and the lasting impact it had on British architecture.

The methodology involves a literature based analysis that will back up the assertions made within the dissertation with credible evidence. Case studies will objectively show the, although different in structures, significance in contemplating how the industrial revolution changed British architecture.

To close, a summary of the findings will be critiqued and an explanation into the introduction of materials in particular iron and steel, allowed engineers to experiment with their design ideas and innovate. This in turn propelled Britain into a manufacturing power house compared to its rivals as Britain were able to flourish, and often use architecture as a platform to showcase its authority using Crystal Palace (1850) as an example. 

In conclusion the dissertation will explain how pivotal the Industrial Revolution was for British architecture, as it continuously inspires architects to transform and design structures to fit the need for larger adaptable buildings in a growing economy.

2. Introduction 

In today’s growing society and changing environment, the obsession for efficiency in architecture has taken rank, where prefabrication has increased the speed of construction or replicating on large scale possible. With technological advancement in the age of industrialisation, the apparent discourse and perceptions of material used within the realm of architecture will be explored. New directions in architecture originally may have been made possible by the advancements of the revolution, however, it is a work in progress, a constant change, evolution and innovation. 

It could be argued that the development of indigenous design has now caught up with the pace of the twenty-first century’s desire for communication and manufacturing. Architecture may have reached a point where the contradiction between structure and ornament is no longer apparent. Ornamentation is an option, not just an unnecessary expense. It is arguable that this examination on materials and influence of the period consequently encourages architects to innovate and design beyond linear architecture, making new architecture to be admired. In examining the definition of vernacular architecture, this dissertation will also explore architecture which has inspired the unimaginative, using precedential architecture from that period.

The research will draw attention to critically analyse structures from the industrial period. Historical and theoretical referencing will gather opinions and further analysis about how the Industrial Revolution changed British architecture and why these structures are a verification of this change. This research is entirely reliant on historical data where a combination of secondary qualitative data, research articles and theories will form the backbone to the primary question. 

A narrative of the case studies will be analysed and a comparison will be made against these case studies, focusing in particular on the change in British architecture that occurred following their construction.

3. Birthplace of the Industrial Revolution 

3.1 Definition of the Industrial Revolution

“The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in the period from about 1760 to sometime between 1820 and 1840”

(Ashton, 1948).

3.2 Why Britain was First to Industrialise?

In order to comprehend and formulate a critical response to the thesis of this dissertation, one has to start at the origins of why the industrial revolution was British. To explain the revolution most notable historian Robert Allen, puts forth a compelling argument that the industrial revolution took place in Britain as opposed to other countries primarily because of Britain having an abundant supply and cheap coal resources. This also combined with the govern ability to use policies and naval power to reap the extreme benefits from an expanding European and world trade. Once it had taken the lead from its European rivals, Britain exploited its comparative advantage to strengthen its dominant position through free trade lasting until the late Victorian period when its technological innovations spread to its competitors. While he agrees that the political, cultural and scientific context of British industrialization was important to its primacy; his approach does not claim, as many interpretations have, that British industrialization was a consequence of their supposed cultural and political superiority. (Allen, 2009)

Before the advent of the Industrial Revolution, most people resided in small, rural communities where their daily existences revolved around farming. The industrial revolution originated in Britain between the 18th and 19th century, where everything changed when James Watt developed a ‘steam engine’ in 1769. (Jago, 2015.) Allen also adds that this fundamental invention The invention provided Britain with an industrial power where the by-products allowed factories, textile, and railroads to be anywhere. (Allen, 2009). 

Alternatively, traditional explanations of the British Industrial Revolution focuses on the supply factors, like technological innovation, population growth, agricultural change and capital formation. By contrast, professor of history Joseph E. Inikori uses an academic hypothesis from a modern international development theory which identifies international trade as a key source of British industrialization.

Inikori discusses that Britain’s extensive trade system was heavily dependent upon Africa slavery during 1650 to 1850. It was not just the profits from the slave trade, as some have argued, that helped fuel British industrialization.

In preference, Inikori explains that slavery was fundamental to the entire trade system. Slaves produced such critical raw materials as cotton, tobacco, sugar, rice, and many other products. Those of which were not only profitable in themselves, but these products were processed in England, and were widely re-exported to other countries. In addition, Inikori notes that the growing demand for British exports in America was dependent upon the growing wealth of American consumers. This in turn was heavily dependent upon wealth produced by slave labour. (Inikori, 2002.)

Premier historian Hobsbawm, argues that Britain was not only the first industrial nation but portrayed the major role in shaping the world’s capitalist economy in the 19th century. According to Hobsbawm: “There was a moment in the world’s history when Britain can be described …as its only workshop, its only massive importer, and exporter, its sole carrier, its only imperialist, almost its only foreign investor, and for that reason, its only naval power and the only one which had a genuine world policy.” (Hobsbawm, 1999). His theory challenged fellow historians to consider his argument that it was Britain’s growing international trade, both outside and within the Empire, which allowed Britain to become the first industrial nation.

4. The power behind the industrial revolution

4.1 Birth of the steam Engine.

Before the industrial revolution architecture was constricted to a few man-made materials along with those available in nature: timber, stone, lime mortar, and concrete. Metals were simply unavailable in sufficient quantity or consistent in quality to be used as anything more than ornamentation which meant structures were limited by the capabilities of materials. The Industrial Revolution altered this situation considerably. 

Thomas Newcomen, first unveiled his steam-driven piston engine in 1712, which allowed the more efficient pumping of concealed mines. Steam engines improved rapidly as the time advanced, and were put to more considerable use thanks to James Watt contribution to the steam engine.

The age of the engineer brought revolutionary engineering achievements, such as iron and then steel bridges, railway viaducts, the Great Exhibition of 1851, and the magnificent palaces of industry. (Trinder, 1982.)

4.2 New found power

Britain’s new railways drew straight lines through the countryside, which seemed to defy the natural landscape. It also brought marvels of engineering. The steam locomotive became a symbol of the new power of industry, where in coal mining it ensured that a cheap and reliable supply of the iron. The industries essential new raw materials were available: “coal was now king.” (White, 2009)

Freeman argues that both figuratively and literally the railway was the engine of “circulatory ferment” that distributed people, goods and money, acquiring everyone a member of a capitalist society. It encouraged the growth of cities and suburbs. Its speed and mobility conveyed the spirit of the age. While it introduced a democratic travel system, allowing ordinary people from all over the country to attend Britain’s prominent exhibition in 1851, it also reinforced society’s class structure through its first, second and third class carriages. The Great Exhibition was regarded as a showcase of British engineering and power. (Freeman, 1999.)

5. Ornamentation and Material aesthetics.

5.1 Prefabricated Materials

The quest for neoclassical aesthetics turned into a search for architecture that made use of the new industrial processes and materials. Rather than beautifully made buildings with the intent to impress, buildings are now stretched with the possibilities granted by the new technologies and materials, especially iron and steel.

Decoratively, cast and wrought iron had a substantial influence on late eighteenth century architecture. In the layout of such substantial London estates as the Bedford, Portland, Grosvenor and Berkeley, and in similar building schemes in towns all over the country. The British terraced house generated a demand for miles of railing of repetitive design, which factories could produce easily and economically. These houses which contained basements needed protective rails around the areas, and apart from the decorative value of a railed balcony there was its safety importance in case of fire. 

Many of the earlier balconies and railings were of wrought iron, but as the custom and demand increased, cast iron was more frequently used due to its economical supply. The first cast iron railings recorded were those used at St. Paul’s Cathedral, which 28 were fixed in 1714. The rails are of baluster form with a stronger member of similar profile at seven or eight foot intervals. In place of the pursuit to develop impressive buildings, the exploration was swiftly targeted towards building and designing efficient spaces that could efficiently and economically be replicated on a more enormous scale. Courtesy of the advancement of the Industrial Revolution, architecture and construction became more affordable, and the age of the skyscrapers began. This was especially owed to the ability to prefabricate architectural elements and building materials off-site. 

Many people in the middle class were now able to afford architecturally designed homes and architecture was now able to accommodate the growing urban populations. This is quite evident in the materials and efficiency.

Advancements in the Industrial Revolution can be seen to have contributed greatly in the evolution of architectural design as we see them today. At the height of the Industrial Revolution, architecture celebrated both the ornamental and the unadorned, and embraced an unprecedented mass production of goods and resources.

6. The revolution of iron and steel

6.1 Cast Iron

In architecture the “translation of an idea into a physical form is manifested through the operative engagement with material” (Borden, 2014). Boden highlights the necessity of materials in architecture as she suggests that without it there is no physical form just the idea.

One such ironmaster was Abraham Darby. The Darby’s operated some of the furnaces at Coalbrookdale. It was these furnaces, combined with the ingenuity of the Darby family, “where the actual discovery of the successful, commercial use of mineral fuel in smelting iron ore was made”. In 1709, Abraham Darby, succeeded in producing cast iron using coal. He discovered a process where coal was first turned into coke. When coal is turned into coke most of the sulphur is lost as sulphurous gases. The coke could subsequently be used in the smelting process to produce iron. This was regarded as a major step forward in the production of iron as a raw material for the Industrial Revolution. (White, 2009)

Most structural iron systems of the mid-nineteenth century used an efficient combination of cast and wrought iron to resist compressive and tensile stresses respectively. This combination of iron members proved to solve many of the problems of the sole use of cast iron and thus was widely used throughout the late nineteenth century. Cast iron was used in architecture for columns, compressive roof truss members, and decorative elements of buildings, as well as tracks in railways.

Wrought iron eventually replaced cast iron in many structural applications. 

Wrought iron revolutionised the already revolutionary structural iron and railway industries. The use of iron in structures dominated the nineteenth century in Britain. (Sutherland, 1997).

In much the same way iron was used to reinforced the timber beams of floor systems. This methodology was adopted and cast iron plates were used to extend the life the wooden rails of the first railroads. Lee writes in article called ‘Some Railway Facts and Fallacies’, “We do not know when iron was first substituted successfully for the domestic wooden rail” (Lee, 1997). 

However, there is persuasive evidence for the first large-scale use of cast-iron rails at Coalbrookdale. Although the exact time frame that iron made its debut in the railway industry is open to speculation, iron quickly made its way from the tracks to the structures that carried them. Iron proved to exceed the current requirements of the wooden rails and bridges that were so common in the initial years. Iron provided the much needed efficiencies and many advantages over the large masonry arches that were the only practical alternative.

Iron had demonstrated its ability to be cast in precise forms, haul greater loads compared to its own weight, and span distances with increased rigidity. This forward movement in the application of structural iron led to first iron bridges designed and erected by engineers. 

The first cast iron bridge was erected at 11 Coalbrookdale, Shropshire UK, in 1779, across the River Severn and was regarded by English engineer Thomas Tedgold, as “one of the boldest attempts with a new material.” (Tedgold, 1824)

6.2 The Age of Steel

The biggest by product of the Industrial Revolution on British architecture was the mass-production of iron but it eventually gave way to steel, where it became an economically plausible building material. This revolutionary material, steel, was a ground-breaking in architecture. It is hard to overstate the importance of it in modern life and according to ‘Sutton’ only plastic and silicon since the Industrial Revolution can be said to rival it in importance to contemporary civilization. (Sutton, M. 2014)

Benjamin Huntsman made steel in modest quantities, as early as 1740. He did not “discover” steel, however in 334 B.C., Aristotle had described Damascus steel which had been used to make swords. Huntsman made steel by putting molten iron into earthenware crucibles and then heating it, while excluding air at the same time. Through a conversion process, all of the impurities were burned out of the iron ore, then precise amounts of carbon were added for hardness. Steel had tensile and compressive strength greater than any material previously available, and its capabilities would revolutionize architecture (Gale, W. K. V. 1967).

6.3 Summary

New inventions in iron manufacturing, particularly those perfected by the Darby family of Shropshire, allowed for stronger and more durable metals. Notably the scale of the growth could be characterised by the evolution of iron during the 19th century. In 1800 the worldwide tonnage of iron produced was 825,000 tons. Impressively by 1900 the worldwide production stood at 40 million tons, almost 50 times as much. Iron was available in three forms. The least processed form, cast iron, was brittle because of a high percentage of impurities. It still displayed impressive compressive strength. Wrought iron was a more refined form of iron, malleable, though with low tensile strength. Steel was the strongest and most versatile form of iron.

The Industrial Revolution provided more than just ferrous building materials. Britain initially benefited from the outputs of the Industrial Revolution and collective building began as community endeavours grew. As technology and complexity cultivated, architectural systems became more intricate and articulated. The advent of period provided the technology to mass produce materials like steel. Skeletal systems with privilege linear lines and curvature was employed allowing radical shifts in the conceptualization of space, form and assembly. Buildings like Crystal Palace emerged out of the premise of serial production allowing for repeat elements prefabricated and assembled on large scale. Clad in transparency glass was regarded as a “pioneering” move emphasised by Gail Borden as the boundaries of built form changed radically through heroic evolutions of material and process. (Borden, G. P. 2014)

Most modern structures in British architecture call for the use of steel for compressive and tensile resistance with little thought given to the use of iron in any form. Iron is still used today, but mostly for the architectural significance and the classical appearance it provides. The discovery of the abundant uses for steel in construction influenced engineers and architects to build higher and span longer and push iron to its structural limits. The doorways of design and construction that structural iron unlocked would eventually open a new door to the use of structural steel and the end of the age of iron. The Industrial Revolution also saw advancement in technology and manufacturing facilities, architecture became popular and it became easier to design buildings on a grand scale.

7. Architectural Precedent from the industrial Period

7.1 Crystal Palace

It is apparent that production of iron had a profound influence on British architecture. Highly regarded architecture of the industrial period is notably Crystal Palace, by Joseph Paxton (1850-1851). The Crystal Palace in compare to Gothic Revival and Arts and Craft movements in architecture is highly regarded as new mode of design of that period, and revealed breakthroughs in architecture, construction and design.

In January 1850, a committee was formed to choose the design for a temporary exhibition building that showcased the latest technologies and innovations from around the world. The structure had to be as economical as possible, and be built before the exhibition was scheduled to open on May 1st, 1851. The committee accumulated 245 entries with 3 weeks, all of which were rejected. It was only after this that Paxton showed his first interest in the project.

Commissioned by Prince Albert and designed by Sir Joseph Paxton, is questionably recognised as one of the impressive buildings of the Industrial period. This structure is considered a direct result of the possibilities granted by the technological advancements in building processes and materials during the Industrial Revolution. The structure was prefabricated off site and assembled on site. Originally it utilised large quantities of iron and glass which in a way, similar to many modern buildings of today. The use of prefabricated elements and the modular design allowed a speedy build time of 9 months and a low overall cost (Merin, 2013).  This was unimaginable pre industrialisation, but granted by technology thanks to the steam engine and materials which was no accessible on a large scale this made the unprecedented time scale achievable.

Already a prominent gardener at the time, Paxton experimented extensively with glasshouse construction. Using combinations of prefabricated cast iron, laminated wood, and standard sized glass sheets, Paxton created the ridge-and-furrow roof design. Iron was the main material used throughout the structure of the roof because it offers many positives as being strong and a sustainable material merited by the developments in material from the industrial period. The solution to the problem where light during different points in the day was obstructed and very little energy being able to penetrate, the ridge furrow design was applied. This principally allows for optimal input from the sun during morning, afternoon and evening without restrictions. This particular concept has since been adapted and its significance can still be seen implemented in today’s architecture.

The various types of roof girders in the design tolerated the weight of the different lengths and loads in the Crystal Palace design. Lengths of seven meters or less was made of cast iron and anything superior were made of wrought iron. Environmentalists were particularly concerned with the survival of elm trees which ran through the palace, therefore Paxton also introduced a transept roof that would allow the construction to be built around and on top of the trees, spacious enough to enclose mature existing trees preserving them. 

The construction aesthetically covered the reinforced iron bars with laminated wood and included sash bars for glazing.

Innovatively Paxton also resolved another issue whereby the ridges and furrow, although the rise and fall were so insignificant the roof looked flat. The truss span of the roof was supported by rafters, Paxton designed these to be multifunctional system so that they act as a gutter to drain the rainwater runs along the roof into the main gutter into the drainage. This system may have been introduced then, but it is a system taken and adapted to be utilised in modern designs appreciation to Paxton’s climatic response.

The main purpose of the Crystal Palace was to become an exhibition space, and with space being an imperative factor in terms of design, Paxton again excelled by taking advantage of using cast columns rather than the traditional masonry column. Cast columns could carry the same weight as masonry but without sacrificing the space of solid walls, ultimately resulting in an enormous exhibition space thanks to slender columns supporting the self-weight. Ingeniously Paxton also designed the columns to be multifunctional too, as they would act as a reservoir where the rain water collected from the roof was also used for agriculture and usable in situations of fire. (Jacob, 2013)

Crystal Palace proposal posed many challenges to design, one of which was the enormous task of maintaining the temperature. The exhibition space would be occupied by thousands of people all of whom would be releasing heat into the air, this combined with the heat coming from outside was an issue in terms of regulating temperature. The inspiration for a solution came from the experiments on his own Victorian House to evade issues including temperature and moisture. What he devised was external shading devices, where light would be filtered to become softer than direct sunlight. He also implemented a floor and wall ventilation system where louvers were prefabricated and placed so that hot air could escape.

This system was innovative and is an example where architects and engineers primarily started to think about designing architecture with a climatic response and where the ornament became functional.

7.2 Summary

Negatively many distinguished architects and critics criticised Paxton’s design. According to an article by Harrison, called it a “glass-monster” and even told Paxton “You had better keep to building greenhouses, and I will keep to my churches and cathedrals” (Harrison. 2001). Thomas Carlyle (1879) called it a “big glass soap bubble” and John Ruskin a “conservatory”. 

Ruskin’s term, albeit somewhat malicious, held an element of truth as Joseph Paxton’s building experience had so far been confined to greenhouses. 

The Crystal Palace was the primary example of new style of architecture. It was a step forward from the traditional architecture. The structural system of Crystal Palace can still be seen in our time. It was a precedent for future buildings. Already experienced cast iron and glass. After the demolition, people know how to avoid those problems using relevant testing and experimental methods, but the main concept is based on Crystal Palace skeletal system. Therefore, nowadays we have developed skeletal structures. It encouraged people to start thinking of distinctive design, shapes and form. This saw the evolution of low-cost structures and experiencing of different materials except brick and stone. Designers started thinking of opportunities engaging with surrounding and climate aspects of those kinds of structures.  There may have been disadvantages of Industrial Revolution, but the main advantage is step for the future with industrial mind.

According to Chris Koenig from the Oxford Times, Paxton is regarded as a “pioneer” in the use of glass and iron in construction, which is arguably still remains the essential materials in architectural construction. (Koenig, 2008). Crystal Palace is a triumph in showcasing the effectiveness of industrialised methods, were prefabrication allowed for fast build time, lightweight construction, innovative design and structural techniques of new style architecture. While in existence, it is evidently clear the Crystal Palace stood as a symbol of the economic, industrial and political strength of England, what is more it is understood why it was regarded as the great building from the industrial period.

7.3 Iron Bridge, Coalbrookdale

Apart from all the visible and obvious decorative uses and the structural employment of cast iron in mills, factories, and warehouses. Architects in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries discovered that it was a convenient and adaptable material to perform a variety of unusual and now almost forgotten tasks. Gloag writes of one example when leading British architecture historian John Summerson records, in 1942, measures the lantern on the roof of the Middle Temple Hall, London “a light and graceful piece of early nineteenth century Gothic architecture” (Gloag, 1948). He firmly believed the whole thing was made of timber, until, in 1944, the roof was burnt and down came great chunks of the neatest cast iron cusping imaginable. Thus determining the capabilities of this material open to experimentation.

British architect John Nash used cast iron not only in railings, as he did in Regents Park, but structurally and decoratively notably in Carlton House Terrace, Buckingham Palace, and the Pavilion at Brighton. Nash experiments with cast iron as a material for bridges were regarded as elementary from an engineering point of view. (Gloag, 1948)

As industry around Britain grew, thus did the need for a strong and durable bridges to transport goods across rivers. The first iron bridge, as mentioned previously, was cast in 1778 at England’s Coalbrookdale Ironworks and erected in 1779 over the River Severn. The date is marked on the outer rib, and the whole structure was finished in December 1780, with its official opening as a toll bridge on New Year’s Day 1781. 

Thomas Farnolls Pritchard (1723-1777) was the bridge’s architect. The Iron Bridge we see today was his third design, which was approved in June 1776. The drawings for the detailed design of certain bridge members were made at the Coalbrookdale foundry by Thomas Gregory, a foreman pattern maker who usually worked with wood. This is perhaps why the bridge expresses carpentry jointing details such as mortises, dovetails and wedges, despite the change of materials from timber to iron (Smiles, 2010).

Also in 1999, a watercolour sketch of Ironbridge being built was discovered by Swedish artist Elias Martin (1739-1818), it is understood to be the only remaining contemporary record of the construction. The bridge was surveyed in 1999-2000, using 3D and CAD techniques, allowing accurate computer modelling of the structure. 

The data helped English heritage to assemble a model in 2002, mimicking the original construction methods and certifying the design. 

What was discovered is that most of the components had been individually cast to ensure a precise fit. There are 482 main castings, but with the deck facings and railings the number rises to 1,736 (Cossons, 1979).

7.4 Summary

This bridge demonstrated the increasing versatility of cast iron as it spanned one hundred feet on five cast-iron ribs. Rural east Shropshire may seem an unlikely location for a structure like this but according to deputy director of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, “symbolises the Industrial Revolution in Britain.” (Haan, 2011) 

As for the Industrial Revolution changing British architecture, this bridge first used a iron, a material that nowadays could not imagine building any support structure or bridge without. Since the introduction of Coalbrookdale Iron Bridge, was not only the first bridge constructed from iron, history suggests it took a further fifteen years before we saw another metal bridge built in Britain. This confirms the historical significance of and how revolutionary the structure is for British architecture (Haan, 2011).

8. Conclusions

In review of the research presented, firstly to respond to the notion why the industrial revolution occurred primarily in Britain, different perspectives are adopted by historians Robert Allen, and Eric Hobsbawm both show a likeness. Allen and Hobsbawm both claim that it was thanks to the abundant supply of resources combined with governing abilities, where Britain exploited the growing international trade that allowed and lead to the Industrial Revolution. On the other hand, Inikori, suggests it was a result of the profits from the products of the slave trade, and African slavery in Britain. Though Inikori’s theory may hold some truths, conclusively it is clear that Britain during this period had the man power, engineering minds and resources that ultimately fundamentally commanded Britain into industrialisation. Both ideas do showcase Britain’s stronghold on resources whether in the form of manpower or raw materials as the igniting factor of change in British architecture. This is further exemplified with Britain’s religiosity contrasting with that of most European nations. The capitalism inclined Protestantism as opposed to Catholicism and its stance against the sciences and what would be deemed to be advancements, gave Britain the social dynamics and creativity for architecture to flourish even further during the Industrial Revolution. 

Also, as the British population became more centralised in cities the services required a more cost effective way of being produced. These niche problems for the time forced British architecture to adapt and answer these new problems in a constructive manner not seen before. In addition, as Britain relative size both in general and in comparison to that of its colonies, was so small, it arguably allowed the advancement to come at an even quicker pace.

The dissertation further discusses some vital materials that had a profound impact on the way architecture can be developed and stretched to its limits. The case studies are evidence of this as the materials allowed architects to adopt a climatic response, as discussed specifically Crystal Palace for example. The Crystal Palace was the great example of new style architecture, and a step forward for British architecture. The structural skeletal system for example offers techniques which can be seen in modern day architecture, however now using an improved structural and material response. This demonstrates a forward thinking and intelligent approach that is now implemented in modern British architecture, which was unheard of during pre-industrialised Britain.

The iron bridge too holds the same impact, as both structures are regarded as precedent for future architecture. They are highly significant in British architecture history as they revealed methods ahead of its time which sets the tone for innovation as people then started thinking of different designs, shapes and form. The application of steel allowed structural capabilities of other materials to be pushed beyond previous measure, something not seen before the Industrial Revolution. Steel also has the properties which allow it to be used architecturally in more grandiose methods, bigger and more open than before whilst prior to the Industrial Revolution it was limited. Due to its properties it resulted in less material, (steel) used to create the structure than when using brick or stone.

The period of the industrial revolution was a time of superb craftsmanship, skilled workforce and imagination which ultimately propelled Britain into prosperity. The inventions allowed for innovations and new products to be manufactured, which in turn created a demand that caused a continuous cycle which pushed people to wealth whilst at the same time driving the other end of the spectrum down into poverty. Although this was not the intention, it is clear that inventors, scientists and other influential people never intended such chasm between the classes but it was a harsh reality at the time. This is further exemplified by the British empire and how exploitation of the resources allowed Britain to succeed whilst impoverishing the majority of its colony.

Whether building the impressive structures of grand scale, or fabulously decorative houses of London, or the early mills of the Industrial Revolution, structural materials, and our knowledge of them, has portrayed an increasingly vital role in the height, width and breadth of these structures. Wood and stone gave way to wrought iron and timber; wrought iron and timber gave way to cast iron and glass. Cast iron and glass give way to steel and other more modern materials. Throughout human history, humanity has developed more and more efficient materials and construction techniques to reach higher and span greater distances than ever. Although the heyday of structural iron has passed, the surviving iron structures speak volumes to the modern world of just how timeless and important the age of Iron was to birthing this great nation and revolutionizing the world.

To complete this dissertation, the Industrial Revolution, which began in Britain, led to radical changes at every level of civilization throughout the world. The new industry brought an abundance of new building materials such as cast iron, steel, and glass, with which architects and engineers devised structures before unimagined of in function, size, and form. The Industrial Revolution brought about a number of changes in the way people perceived architecture post 18th century. Architectural design took a profound turn and all for the better due to a whole host of factors including, scale of the country, the affect the Industrial Revolution had on societal norms such as farming which further developed cities. This allowed for more architectural freedom in both creativity and ability as well as necessity for the changing demographic of the nation, which played to Britain’s advantage and which without, would not have had the same effect on British architecture. Access to better resources, more material, better techniques; all were contributing factors to architecture becoming a full-scale, and a continuously flourishing industry today.

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