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Industrial revolution

Home > History > Industrial revolution

The international trade of the city grew, based, as well as on slaves, on a wide range of commodities - including, in particular, cotton, for which the city became the leading world market, supplying the textile mills of Manchester and Lancashire.

During the eighteenth century the town's population grew from some 6,000 to 80,000, and its land and water communications with its hinterland and other northern cities steadily improved. Liverpool was first linked by canal to Manchester in 1721, the St. Helens coalfield in 1755, and Leeds in 1816. In 1830, Liverpool became home to one of the first inter-urban rail links to another city, Manchester, through the Liverpool and Manchester Railway

The built-up area grew rapidly from the eighteenth century on. The Bluecoat Hospital for poor children opened in 1718. With the demolition of the castle in 1726, only St Nicholas Church and the historic street plan - with Castle Street as the spine of the original settlement, and Paradise Street following the line of the Pool - remained to reflect the town's mediaeval origins. The Town Hall, with a covered exchange for merchants designed by architect John Wood, was built in 1754, and the first office buildings including the Corn Exchange were opened in about 1810.

Throughout the 19th century Liverpool's trade and its population continued to expanded rapidly. Growth in the cotton trade was accompanied by the development of strong trading links with India and the Far East following the ending of the East India Company's monopoly in 1813. Over 140 acres (0.57 km2) of new docks, with 10 miles (16 km) of quay space, were opened between 1824 and 1858.

During the 1840s, Irish migrants began arriving by the thousands due to the Great Famine of 1845-1849. Almost 300,000 arrived in the year 1847 alone, and by 1851 approximately 25% of the city was Irish-born. The Irish influence is reflected in the unique place Liverpool occupies in UK and Irish political history, being the only place outside of Ireland to elect a member of parliament from the Irish Parliamentary Party to the British parliament in Westminster. T.P. O'Connor represented the constituency of Liverpool Scotland from 1885 to 1929.

As the town become a leading port of the British Empire, a number of major buildings were constructed, including St. George's Hall (1854), and Lime Street Station. The Grand National steeplechase was first run at Aintree in 1837.

Between 1851 and 1911, Liverpool attracted at least 20,000 people from Wales in each decade, peaking in the 1880s, and Welsh culture flourished. One of the first Welsh language journals, Yr Amserau, was founded in Liverpool by William Rees (Gwilym Hiraethog), and there were over 50 Welsh chapels in the city.

When the American Civil War broke out Liverpool became a hotbed of intrigue. The last Confederate ship, the CSS Alabama, was built at Birkenhead on the Mersey and the CSS Shenandoah surrendered there.

Liverpool was granted city status in 1880, and the following year its university was established. By 1901, the city's population had grown to over 700,000, and its boundaries had expanded to include Kirkdale, Everton, Walton, West Derby, Toxteth and Garston.