The title of my forthcoming book on the history of British manufacturing has changed to How Britain Shaped the Manufacturing World.
The word ‘shaped‘ describes the story so much better than the original ‘created’. It also endures much longer. For whilst Arkwright might have created the first factory, British manufacturers have been shaping worldwide manufacturing ever since.
Today it seems a brave, or even reckless, assertion to suggest that Britain might have shaped the manufacturing world. Yet, looking back through history, there is a grubby British thumb-print on many of the world’s manufacturing industries. In this book I try to explore the assertion by unfolding what is quite a remarkable story. In order to do this I have drawn on the detailed research of a great many people without whose work this volume would not have been possible. At the outset, I acknowledge my debt to them.
I am not saying that Britain alone shaped the manufacturing world, but, as I will explain, it almost certainly started a process that would continue over many decades. The role played by Britain diminished as that played by other nations increased, but it didn’t disappear; indeed, it remained strongly influential.