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Of course, the Industrial Revolution is so named because of the tremendous social and technological changes that it made, not because it was truly a radical movement such as the French Revolution. In fact, the Industrial Revolution came about in increments, beginning with the four-field system and the invention of the steam engine. At any rate, the 1700s in Britain witnessed the convergence of the factors requisite to begin what is termed The Industrial Revolution.
With the changes made in ownership of farms and in the advancements with machinery in aiding farming, many people who lived in the south countryside of England migrated to London and other cities where they could find jobs in factories. However, with the tremendous flood of people to these cities and to the iron and coal fields in the north, living conditions became sordid. Because of this rapid increase of population in cities such as Manchester, Liverpool, and London (around 4 times what they were), tenements were rapidly and poorly constructed, and people were crowded into small apartments.
Sanitation was virtually non-existent; therefore, such areas that housed the working class were malodorous (badly smelly); for, open sewers carried water that was fowled with industrial and human waste. In addition, to these unsanitary conditions,the many factories emitted pollutants with foul smells that fouled both the water and the air.
Smoke billowing from these factories' smoke stacks darkened the air because coal was the main fuel. As a result of this pollution and these unsanitary conditions, diseased people, with diseases such as cholera, typhoid, typhus, and tuberculosis, were sick and dying as disease proliferated and often reached epidemic levels.
One need only read the works of Charles Dickens to become aware of the conditions wrought by the Industrial Revolution. For, as a social reformer, Dickens wrote prolifically about the conditions in London. In Great Expectations, for instance, when Pip arrives from the marshes, he sees in London a filthy city, and his residence is dilapidated and crumbling and over-crowded with poor people. Additionally, Oliver Twist is a poignant tale of the conditions of sights and smells under which many of the poor children found themselves living.
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