Industrialrevolution marked a huge turning point in history. The aspectsimpacted by the revolution are quite vast and include mechanizedtextiles, transportation means, and means of generating power amongothers. Industrialization in Britain began in the late 1700s andprogressed considerably over the years. Though other studiesillustrate Netherlands as the first Modern Economy, they all affirmthat Great Britain was the first nation to transit to an industrialeconomy.1Though the industrial revolution period brought about positiveimpacts, it also impacted negatively to some extent. For instance,taxes increased considerably, increased gap between the rich and pooramong others. This paper will focus on industrial revolution between1810 and 1875. It will entail the life and impacts of on anindividual who was in the forefront in trying to breach the gapbetween the urban and rural life. The engineer by the name JamesLeakey built a railway line to connect the rural to urban areas toenhance mobility. In many aspects, rural life is viewed by many as alife for the poor as compared to the urban life.
JamesLeakey was born in the year 1800 in the rural areas of Presteigne atthe border of wales and England. Born in a farming family who had noeducation background, James worked in the fields from a tender age ofseven. His family comprised of father, mother and two siblings whowere twins. Being the first born, Leakey was ever present in thefields. They practiced a wide range of agricultural activities suchas cattle rearing, farming crops of varying capacities among others.Most of their products were meant for selling or to some extentbarter trade, whereby they gave their produce in exchange of anotherlacking commodity. For instance they would trade beef for pork sincethey did not rear pigs. Movement to urban centers was close toimpossible due to the limited means of transport. They would alsocross to Wales to acquire what they lacked and sell their productsaltogether. In most cases, their farm produce would lack a readymarket and end up spoiling. In few circumstances, they would manageto transport them to urban centers where they would make substantialprofits. By the age of 15, Leakey had realized a weak point thatneeded rectification. He thought of the benefits of having a suitablemeans of transport that would ensure movement between rural and urbancenters was fast enough. Though he was ever at the farms, Leakey hadenrolled in a school to have some knowledge. At this age, Leakeybecame eager to learn more and his parents realized this and accordedhim much support. For him to realize his potential, Leakey moved toLondon to stay with an uncle. At least, they had better schools ascompared to his village.
Whilein the fields, Leakey portrayed a hard working farmer whose main aimwas to gain substantial produce from the farms. He was also fond ofcattle and could solely handle them all by himself by the age of 13.In his early schooling years at the village, his teachers deemed himas a sharp individual. He was a quick learner who in some instanceschallenged his teachers on certain matters. This can be portrayed byhis realization of the need to better the transport mechanisms in hisvillage at a tender age of 15. A humble individual, Leakey wassomehow hard to talk to. He was not that social and most of hisdecisions were not consultative.
JamesLeakey was a first born in a family of three kids. His parents werepure farmers and had no educational background hence did not venturemuch in educational matters. Leakey knew he had to work harder toimprove their living standards. The weight was even much greatertaking into consideration his siblings.
Whileat his uncle’s place, the change of environment tended to impact onhim negatively. His laid back character would leave him with too muchto handle by himself. His first girlfriend, Jane tried to be part ofhis life in vain. After having enough of him, Jane would later callit quits much to the amusement of Leakey.
Leakeyhad problems in the romantic aspects and would rarely let anyone intohis heart. Only his close colleague and friend Potus knew all abouthim. Leakey was hard to befriend and in Potus case, it was mainly dueto the fact they came from the same village. Potus had also moved insearch of better education and was in the teaching profession. Whilein campus, Leakey found his match in Stacy who was able to getLeakey’s attention in all aspects. Potus played a considerable rolein bringing the two together since they were both in the sameprofession.
Inthe year 1830, just after being accredited the Engineers status,James would marry his campus sweetheart Stacy who was a teacher byprofession. She taught in the western parts of London where theysettled. Together they had two kids. Apart from Stacy, his siblingsJack and Jewel formed a close bond. Since the two looked up to him,he never disappointed them. The two would also move into his place topursue educational matters.
Hisfamily was dependent on agriculture and the limited markets did nothelp their economic status. They lived an affordable life in terms offood provisions i.e. the basic need such as food, water and clothingwas not a major issue. However, their lives stagnated since theycould not make substantial sales to better themselves.
Inhis early years, he went to some rural school where he gained thebasics of education. The educational status of the area was quite lowand Leakey knew he had to move out if indeed he was to realize hisdreams. By the year 1827, Leakey had graduated with a Degree in CivilEngineering from the University of Oxford. Leakey portrayed a uniquecharacter in terms of education, scoring high grades in almost allsubjects. He proved to be knowledgeable in many facets ofEngineering. Three years later he was accredited the Engineersstatus, becoming among the first of his kind. He got employed in aleading industrial company but later quit citing unfavorable workingconditions. He did not view himself as an employee, instead he wantedto be an employer, hence the idea of coming up with a company poppedup.
Bythis time, steam engine to be precise the beam engine was a commonmode of transport. However, movement to the rural areas still posed ahuge problem.
Historyof the steam engine
Steamengine entails a machine which burns coal or any combustiblesubstance to produce heat energy. Combustion of coal leads to releaseof heat energy and the steam generated from the same is captured andutilized. In that respect, a steam locomotive entails a railwaylocomotive that utilizes steam power to move. Movement of thelocomotives utilize combustible substances such as wood, oil or coal.Before the advent of steam engines, railways used horses to drawcarts along the railway lines. Therefore, the distance covered werenot much and the speeds were somehow slow. It would take several daysto traverse from one town to another using these horses.
Ruralareas were the most affected areas and to make matters worse, therailway lines did not often cross their lands. Connection was mainlybetween urban centers whereby movement was deemed to be most vital.
The“Rural Mobility” Project
JamesLeakey knew the challenges he would face in establishing the railwaylines. However, he also had a picture of challenges people from ruralareas faced. Towards the end of 1931, in collaboration with five ofhis colleagues from campus, he formed a company named “RuralMobility” which was meant to build railway lines across the ruralareas to link with urban centers. The idea was quite noble with themajor challenge being funds. By this time, his parents were quiteold. He had to manage the farms making the movements quite hectic.After completion of his studies, Potus had married and relocated backto his home village where he played a significant role in improvingthe educational standards. Leakey also made him in charge of thefarms whereby he was to oversee work done by other workers. Leakeyalso knew he had a lot to do in improving the living standards in hishome village.
Hiscompany embarked on an agenda to collect enough funds to start up theproject. With the project being a noble one, he got support from thegovernment and other established companies in terms of funds. Afterappropriate designs and estimations, the project began in 1839. Hefirst designed and implemented the Derby, Midland and Litchurchrailway. The railway linked, the rural parts of derby with otherurban centers and was roughly 20 miles. The track gauge was 4ft 8.5in (1435mm) standard gauge. Since the terrain was favorable, it tookthem three and a half years to complete the area. The constructionmade the area a major industrial center having workshops, residentialdistrict for employees as well as company offices. In that respect,the areas became urban centers as well. The mobility was greatlyimproved between the urban and rural areas. Farmers could move theirproducts with ease.
Towardsthe end of the year 1942, his father passed on at the age of 72 withhis mother also passing on six months later. It was an emotional timeand he was forced to take a few months off the cumbersome tasks. Hisfamily life was also deteriorating due to the limited amount of timehe spent with them. He therefore used this period to strengthen theweakening family bonds.
Withthe previous project attaining its prospected outcome in Derby, otherrural areas were accordingly targeted. After enough rest, Leakeyembarked on laying the railway through the various towns up toPresteigne an estimated length of 45 miles. The towns along the areawould also benefit substantially. The railway was estimated to takefive years with short breaks in between. It however took eight yearsdue to some technicalities. The track gauge was 4ft 8.5 in (1435mm)standard gauge.
Thecompany also played a huge role in extending the Liverpool Manchesterrailway that had begun operation in 1830. The Liverpool Manchesterrailway had revolutionized the commercial and social sectorsconsiderably. Leakey and co. therefore thought it wise to extend the35 mile rail to cover many other places.
Leakeywas so preoccupied in his work that he lost touch with his family. Atthis time, his brother Jack had taken over the farm while his sisterhad moved to Manchester where she got married. His wife filed fordivorce in 1950 after which they separated. She cited lack ofcommitment as the reason for divorce. She was also granted fullcustody of their children, living Leakey a saddened personality. Thesocial disparities affected Leakey to an extent that he became ill.He would later die at the age of 55 from a heart disorder. Thedoctors however cited depression as the main cause of Leakey’sdeath.
Benefitsof the “Rural Mobility” project
Social mobility. The availability of railways enabled people to move from one area to another with ease. In that respect, it improved on the social aspects of life.
Urbanization. Development of railway lines led to construction of stations at various points. This way, centers were expanded leading to urbanization across the various parts of the country.
Improved trade. Farmers in rural areas could now move their products from place to place with much ease.
Employment opportunities. The stations among other elements of railways construction brought about employment opportunities.
Improved living standards. Improvement in means of transportation led to subsequent improvement in areas such as electrification, employment, security among others that are vital. In that respect, it led to a general improvement in the living standards.
Thoughthe project faced was a success in some areas, it encounterednumerous challenges. The challenges include
Land use i.e. construction of railway lines led to a corresponding dispossession of land. Depending on the design requirements of the rails, people needed to be relocated to ensure the railway traversed through the area.
Lack of funds. It is quite evident that rails are quite expensive. Right from the design to laying down the rails is quite expensive. It was therefore a major hindrance to the extent to which this project could cover.
Laws and regulations. The rules governing purchase of land as well materials could change with time bringing about other challenges. For instance in 1845, and act specifying how land would be purchased was introduced.
Changing technologies. The means of transport were changing considerably. Additionally, technologies of construction were also changing and required adjustments in various aspects.
Rural to urban migration. Though the project was meant to improve the standards of living within the rural areas, many residents were moving the other way.
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