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Case Study; The Industrial Revolution in a local area
Chris Culpin

Chimney from disused coalmine in the Mendips,  Somerset, IoE number; 267069  © Mr Robert O. CaudwellKey Stage Three History

About the Case Study:

Most Key Stage Three textbook treatments of the Industrial Revolution only describe industrial changes in the textile industry in parts of Lancashire with perhaps a mention of coal-mining and iron smelting. But the Industrial Revolution was a many-sided phenomenon which produced profound and lasting changes over the whole country. Many of the results of these changes can still be seen in the built environment. This unit uses the huge potential of the Images of England site to help pupils find buildings and structures with industrial connotations and use them as evidence of how far the area where they live was affected by the Industrial Revolution.


The Case Study has been designed to fit into KS3 History unit "Britain 1750-1900". The material has therefore been prepared for Years 8/9.

This unit specifies: "A study of how…industrialisation…affected the United Kingdom, including the local area". The requirement to investigate a local angle is laudable, but has produced problems for many teachers. The approach in this Case Study meets the requirements for local study without the time-consuming research and preparation local history demands.

The Case Study also provides opportunities for pupils to work at historical interpretations, item 3 of the "Knowledge, Skills and Understanding" in NC History at KS3.

Former Lace factory, Chard, Somerset, IoE number : 374178 © Mr Richard Bland

The Case-Study is expected to take a lesson and a homework.


Pupils need to have

  • some knowledge and understanding of the Industrial Revolution.
  • considered questions of interpretation.






The word "revolution" means a big change. So the Industrial Revolution must mean big changes in industry. But in textbooks we mostly only read about changes in one or two areas in Britain.

Was the area where you live affected?

That is the question we are going to investigate. We are going to investigate it by examining whether the following statement is true or not:

"The Industrial Revolution had no effect on our area"

You already know that we find out about the past by using sources. An important source for finding out about the impact of industry on an area is the buildings and structures left behind. We are going to use a website called Images of England which contains photographs of every important listed building in England. Let’s see what it tells you about your area.

Then you must decide whether the statement is true or not and present your decision to the rest of the class.



  1. Go to the home page of the Images of England website and login if necessary.
  2. Go to the Advanced Search. The site contains information on around 370,000 buildings, so you will need to refine your search. You could work out how to do this yourself, but we suggest you refine it by:
  3. Building type; Industrial (Click on 'Industrial'). Remains of 2 annealing ovens, Kelston, Somerset, IoE number: 399986 © Mr David J Lewis

    The Industrial Revolution was accompanied by a Transport Revolution too, so you could also perhaps try a separate search on Transport (Click on 'Transport')

    Period; Victorian or perhaps Georgian/Hanoverian

    Place; You could specify your town, your county and, in some areas, a district, or a one kilometre square around where you live [using the map search].

    (It is advisable to tick the box labelled "Only show Listed Buildings that have images")

  4. Click "Submit".



  1. Click on "More" to bring up a larger picture.
  2. Look at it closely. If there is no obvious evidence of industrial use or link with industry, read the text to see if that helps.
  3. -It might be that the building has changed its use since it was built.

    -It might be that the clue lies in its using industrial materials, such as cast iron, or large glass windows.

  4. Use this table to record your results:
  5. Name of building and place


    Evidence of link with industrial or transport revolution


  6. If you want to use the pictures in your presentation at the end, click "Add to Shopping Basket".



Look at the results on your table. Do you think the evidence from the Images of England site proves that the statement:

"The Industrial Revolution had no effect on our area" is true or false? Disused limekiln at Dittisham Mill Creek, Devon, IoE number: 100995 © Mr Dennis Coote

You can choose to present your conclusion, based on the evidence you found of buildings with industrial links in one of four ways:

  1. In writing
  2. As a talk to the class
  3. As a wall-display
  4. As a Powerpoint presentation - you can copy the photographs from the Images of England website into your presentation; right click on the image, click copy, open a new slide in Powerpoint and paste [Ctrl V].

Whichever you choose, you should:

  1. Describe how much evidence of industrial activity the site revealed
  2. Describe which local industries have left evidence in the local built environment.
  3. Give your decision and explain your reasons.

Assessment in National Curriculum History requires teachers to reach a judgment about each pupil’s work based on the totality of their performance over the Key Stage. The level descriptions are lengthy and varied because they derive from the whole of the range of knowledge, skills and understanding set out in the National Curriculum. It is therefore inappropriate to apply levels to a single piece of work, focussed on just one aspect of History. However, the following descriptions may help teachers to assemble a "best fit" judgment of a pupil’s level.

A response characteristic of Level 3;

  • Can show that information from the site suggests that there was some industrial activity in the local areaGoldcroft Glove Company works, Yeovil, Somerset, IoE number: 261357 © Mr Brian Haigh

A response characteristic of Level 4;

  • Can put information from several items together to build up a picture

A response characteristic of Level 5;

  • Can select information to support a general comment

A response characteristic of Level 6;

  • Can select and use information from the site to reach own conclusions about local aspects of industrialisation


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