How Britain Shaped the Manufacturing World is a book about fathers. It all began with textiles. Richard Arkwright was quite possibly the father of all manufacturing. Many of the books on industries highlight key individuals, so John Brown is the father of Sheffield steel, George Stephenson - father of the railways, Thomas Humber – father of the bicycle, William Preece – father of wireless telegraphy. The British story is not about highly educated people, as it might be in France or Germany, but rather those who learnt their trade on the job.
The story of British manufacturing is not only about the inventors and engineers, their discoveries needed to be sold and financed. Britain’s export markets were essential; the home market alone would have been wholly inadequate. So we needed men like Joseph Ruston who would sell his steam powered machines all over the world; Thomas Brassey who is said to have built not only one sixth of Britain’s railways but half of those in France. It would though be remiss not to acknowledge the role played by William Cecil, Queen Elizabeth I trusted advisor, for he master minded British patent law which provided protection to those who wished to exploit their inventions here. Many chose Britain in preference to their native land for this reason, although others were attracted by our comparative tolerance.
We needed people who nurtured relationships, so Oliver Lucas, and Harvey du Cross of Dunlop. We needed entrepreneurs, so William Morris, Billy and Reggie Rootes but also those who sailed close to (and sometimes over) the line Ernest Terah Hooley and Harry Lawson. The role of managers was crucial, from Richard Arkwright through Seebohm Rowntree and Eric Geddes to Ronald Weeks.
Places were crucial Derwent Mill near Derby quite probably was a forerunner of Arkwright Ironbridge was the crucible for iron and steel
How Britain Shaped the Manufacturing World is available to preorder from Pen & Sword.