'Away from the water': the first energy transition, British textiles 1770-1890

The causes and consequences of the Industrial Revolution in Britain have remained a topic of vigorous scholarly debate for over 150 years. Most recently, as climate sciences have drawn attention to the potentially dire consequences of the world’s dependence on fossil fuels for its primary energy needs, debate has shifted to the role of fossil fuels in perpetuating and entrenching industrial capitalism as a global phenomenon.

In this Leverhulme Trust funded project, we seek to develop a richer understanding of the technological, economic, political, geographic and cultural factors that drove the epochal sociotechnical transition which occurred at the beginning of the industrial age, and what lessons can be learned from it as we navigate our way through another such transition.