Great Britain was a different place to live when Queen Victoria reigned as monarch. Her time as queen is the longest to
date of any other monarch. This period of time is known as the Victorian era. A period in time that saw many changes take place in Britain, from industrial changes, agricultural changes and new technologies that started to develop. All these changes affected the British people’s way of life. The industrial revolution hadn’t just started at the beginning of Victoria’s reign; it had begun slowly some sixty years previously. But by the time she became monarch in 1837 things were starting to move at a pace. Steam power was becoming the dominant force in everything, from raising London Bridge to the manufacturing of textiles and all other goods. Traditional methods of manufacturing goods was now being replaced by machines which could not only produce goods more accurately, but also allowed larger items to be produced easier. But by far the biggest advantage was production, textiles for example could now be produced not stop, steam allowed mills to run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. For the people with money and an eye for business this time was utopia, many mills were built in the midlands and the north of England near to rivers, to allow steam powered looms to be installed. These mills created some of the towns and cities we now have today from either nothing or a small village due to its location. These newly formed industrial sites began sucking in
people in ever larger amounts, not only locally but from all over the country. People left the countryside and agricultural work in their droves in search of better paid jobs, only to find that conditions in mills were dangerous and dirty. Housing created for the mill workforce were often small and cramped, with more than one family sharing a two up two down house. This period in history for genealogists can be quite difficult due to this migration of people away from their birthplaces, not by just a few miles but in a lot of cases hundreds of miles away.
For the entrepreneur it meant wealth abound, in many cases forming dynastic families that in turn spawned more wealth
and these in turn creating family estates to rival the eighteenth century aristocrat’s stately homes. Goods began being exported
across the globe to an eager clientele that had never seen goods at prices and in such quantities. Britain boomed throughout the
Victorian age on this industrial wave, innovation on all fronts was sweeping this wave. From men like Isambard Kingdom
Brunel using steel to produce his ever larger creations, such as bridges and ships to James Watt and his steam engines.
Travel that we take for granted today suddenly opened up to everybody in Victorian times because of steam trains,
railway lines were being laid across the country making places like the coast accessible to the common man. People began to
demand better working conditions and holidays, which they could go to see the sea.Where we stand today in many ways is due to the Victorians, we owe them a great deal. We still use a lot of their wonders even today, just look around you and see.