The World Transport Revolution

Theo Barker on how 150 years of innovations in global movement have transformed what we eat, think and wear

The ability to move food, raw materials and people more cheaply and rapidly has never been more basic to the betterment of human conditions than during the past two centuries. What we call the Industrial Revolution would have been very different if imports into Britain of raw cotton had not kept pace – and more than kept pace – with the greatly increased demands of her power-driven spinning factories. It might even have been strangled at birth. But we are always more readily impressed by the visual. Mills, machines and tall, belching chimneys capture our imagination: wagon loads of raw materials do not.

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