Industrialization in Britain

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Chronological table

Displaying 1 - 7 of 7
Date Event Created by Associated Places
15 Sep 1830

Opening of Liverpool & Manchester Railway

Stephenson's RocketOn 15 September 1830, the world’s first major passenger railway opened with a huge celebration—and an unforgettable tragedy. The Liverpool and Manchester Railway stages a grand public opening with dignitaries including then-prime-minster Duke of Wellington. But, before the inaugural trains reach their destination, a fatal accident occurs to MP William Huskisson and, in Manchester, the cheering crowds give way to angry political protests. Image: The Remains of Stephenson's 'Rocket', 1829. Used with permission. Copyright (c) National Railway Museum / Science & Society Picture Library.


Paul Fyfe, “On the Opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, 1830″

David Rettenmaier
10 Jan 1840

launch of UK Penny Post

The introduction of the Penny Post in 1840, the rapid expansion of the rail network in the UK, and the introduction of steamships on the transatlantic routes, created the optimum conditions for writing letters. Prior to 1840, the cost of inland postage was prohibitively expensive; it was calculated according to the number of sheets multiplied by the distance traveled. Additional charges were often levied and the burden of payment fell on the recipient, which did nothing to encourage frequent communication. The Penny Post Act drastically reduced the cost of an inland letter to a universal flat rate of just one penny for a half an ounce, and the introduction of the prepaid penny stamp removed the deterrent to accepting a letter.


Susan Donovan, “How the Post Office and Postal Products Shaped Mid-Nineteenth-Century Letter-Writing”

David Rettenmaier
1 May 1851 to 15 Oct 1851

Great Exhibition

Interior of the Crystal PalaceHeld from May to October of 1851, “The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations” was opened by Queen Victoria in the structure built to house it, the Crystal Palace, in Hyde Park, London. Image: Interior view of the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, London during the Great Exhibition of 1851. This image is in the public domain in the United States because its copyright has expired.

The Great Exhibition of 1851 was an event in the history of: exhibitions; world’s fairs; consumerism; imperialism; architecture; collections; things; glass and material culture in general; visual culture; attention and inattention; distraction. Its ostensible purposes, as stated by the organizing commission and various promoters, most notably Prince Albert, were chiefly to celebrate the industry and ingeniousness of various world cultures, primarily the British, and to inform and educate the public about the achievement, workmanship, science and industry that produced the numerous and multifarious objects and technologies on display. Designed by Joseph Paxton, the Crystal Palace (pictured above) was a structure of iron and glass conceptually derived from greenhouses and railway stations, but also resembling the shopping arcades of Paris and London. The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations became a model for World’s Fairs, by which invited nations showcased the best in manufacturing, design, and art, well into the twentieth century.


Audrey Jaffe, "On the Great Exhibition"

Related Articles

Aviva Briefel, "On the 1886 Colonial and Indian Exhibition"

Anne Helmreich, “On the Opening of the Crystal Palace at Sydenham, 1854″

Anne Clendinning, “On The British Empire Exhibition, 1924-25″

Barbara Leckie, “Prince Albert’s Exhibition Model Dwellings”

Carol Senf, “‘The Fiddler of the Reels’: Hardy’s Reflection on the Past”

David Rettenmaier
19 Apr 1862

Railway Station exhibited

Photo of William Powell FrithOn 19 April 1862, the exhibition of William Powell Frith’s painting The Railway Station opens at the Fine Arts Gallery at No. 7 Haymarket, London. Image: Photograph of William Powell Frith (no date) by Maull & Polyblank. This image is in the public domain in the United States because its copyright has expired.


Pamela Fletcher, "On the Rise of the Commercial Art Gallery in London"

David Rettenmaier
25 Aug 1862

Victoria Station opened

On 25 August 1862, London Victoria Station was opened, connecting London to the Kent coast.

Related Articles

Paul Fyfe, “On the Opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, 1830″

Nancy Rose Marshall, “On William Powell Frith’s Railway Station, April 1862″

Carolyn W. de la L. Oulton, “‘Coquetting amid incredible landscapes’: Women on the River and the Railway”

David Rettenmaier
6 Nov 1872 to 22 Dec 1872

Around the World in Eighty Days

Jules VerneFrom 6 November to 22 December 1872, Jules Verne's ‬Around the World in Eighty Days‪ is serialized in ‬Le Temps‪. The review's circulation booms, and shipping lines and railroads vie to be mentioned in the text, a phenomenon sometimes regarded as the first example of product placement. In an example of the intersection of commerce and literature, the novel contains a host of references to contemporary businesses and products.‬ Image: Restored photograph of Jules Verne by Félix Nadar circa 1878. This image is in the public domain in the United States as its copyright has expired.

Related Articles

Claudia Nelson, “Mass Media Meets Children’s Literature, 1899: E. Nesbit’s The Story of the Treasure Seekers

David Rettenmaier
Sep 1873

Financial panic of 1873 begins

Jay CookeSeptember 1873 saw the beginning of the "panic of 1873," a financial crisis brought on in part by speculation in railroads. The crisis included the fall of American banking house Jay Cook & Company, which was precipitated by the failure of Northern Pacific Railway shares. The panic triggered a depression in Europe and North America that lasted from 1873 until 1879. Image: Portrait, Jay Cooke, founder of Jay Cooke & Company. This image is in the public domain in the United States as its copyright has expired.

Related Articles

Joshua Gooch, “On ‘Black Friday,’ 11 May 1866″

Deborah Denenholz Morse, “The Way He Thought Then: Modernity and the Retreat of the Public Liberal in Anthony Trollope’s The Way We Live Now, 1873”

David Rettenmaier