Engineering An Empire: Britain: Blood and Steel

At its pinnacle, the British empire spanned every continent and covered one quarter of the Earth's land mass. Through the centuries, the rulers of this enormous powerhouse used extraordinary engineering feats to become an industrial and military titan, loaded with riches. Some of their many pioneering accomplishments include the world's first locomotive, a superhighway of underground sewers, the imposing and grand Westminster Palace, and the most powerful and technically advanced navy in the age of sail. Using cutting edge CGI, we'll take a look at the key leaders of the British empire--and explore the mark each left on society. Peter Weller hosts.

The British Empire expanded and contracted wildly over the centuries. It became fairly large with the ever expanding American colonies in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, particularly after the defeat of the French in the Seven Years War. The American Revolution lost much (but not all) of this territory, but the expansion of British interests in India filled this vacuum. It really was the victory in the Napoleonic Wars that allowed the British to hoover up naval bases and toe holds across the world. These would generally provide the jumping off points for the massive expansion in the Victorian period. Advances in medicine and communications helped open up the last continent of Africa to European Imperialism in the latter half of the Nineteenth Century.

World War One appeared to add yet more colonies to the British Empire in the form of mandates. A historic called Stephen has produced a list of the populations and sizes of the colonies in 1924 a territorial highpoint of Empire - although economically the Empire would begin to enter its period of decline in this Inter-war years period. But it was still estimated at this time to cover between a quarter and a third of the globe and that it represented an area of over one hundred and fifty times the size of Great Britain itself.

The Second World War would see much imperial territory threatened or temporarily lost. Despite being on the winning side, the Empire would not recover from the geo-political shifts caused by this Second World War and would enter into a period of terminal decline. India was the first and largest area to be shed and then the Middle East and then Africa. Various Caribbean and Pacific possessions held on a little longer but most of these also went their seperate way. The last of the major colonies to be lost was that of Hong Kong in 1997.

Tell a friend about this blog and article:

Help others find this article at, Digg, Netscape, Reddit, and Stumble Upon

1 comment:

  1. Don't forget the navy's engineering base. It was Sir Stamford Raffles who pioneered Singapore's. And he also laid the foundation of scientific approach on our very Bogor's botanical garden. Nice blog you have!