Fire was always a danger in mills and factories. The Albion Mills in London, the biggest steam-powered mills of their day, burned down in 1791.
Image: Science Museum/SSPL

The 'Fireproof' mill

Early mills and factories were usually built with timber, making them vulnerable to fire and limiting their size.

In 1796, Charles Bage built the first 'fireproof' factory, in Shrewsbury. It only used cast iron, brick and stone. This design reduced the fire risk and formed a strong structure that could accommodate large, powered machinery.

Later, in the 1830s, engineer Eaton Hodgkinson and millwright William Fairbairn established the scientific principles of building iron-framed factories.

What other innovations helped industry grow?