By Tim Lambert

1709 Abraham Darby begins using coke instead of charcoal to melt iron ore

1712 Thomas Newcomen makes primitive steam engines

1769 James Watt patents an efficient steam engine

1771 Richard Arkwright opens a cotton spinning mill with a machine called a water frame

1779 Samuel Crompton invents the spinning mule

1784 Henry Cort invents the puddling process for making iron

1785 Edmund Cartwright invents a loom that can be powered by a steam engine

1801 The population of Britain is about 9 million

1824 Portland cement is invented

1825 The first passenger railway opens

1833 A law bans children under 9 from working in textile mills. Children aged 13 to 18 are not to work more than 69 hours a week.

1842 A law bans children under 10 and women from working underground in mines

1844 A law bans all children under 8 from working

1847 A law says women and children can only work 10 hours a day in textile factories. Chloroform is first used as an anesthetic.

1848 Cholera strikes British towns

1851 More than half the population of Britain lives in towns

1856 Henry Bessemer invents the Bessemer converter

1860 HMS Warrior Britain's first iron warship is launched

1865 Antiseptic surgery is introduced. The British army begins using breech loading guns.

1867 A law says women and children can only work 10 hours a day in all factories. (A factory is defined as a place where more than 50 people work

1868 The TUC is formed

1875 A law bans boys from climbing up chimneys to clean them

1876 The telephone is invented

1885 The first cars are made

1901 The population of Britain is about 41 million

A history of technology

A history of work