Here Are Some of The Most Important Victorian Era Inventions

Many things we use today trace their origins back the Victorian Era.
Christopher McFadden

The Victorian Era saw an explosion in invention and technological change around the world. Many of the developments made during this period of history are still used by us today.

But changes were not just limited to technology. Massive socioeconomic, geopolitical and philosophical changes occurred throughout this time.


In the following article, we will explore some of the most important inventions of this time and explore why this period of history is still remembered today.

What was the most important invention in the Victorian era?

The most important invention of any period is something of a matter of personal opinion. This is especially true for the Victorian era, named after the rein of British Queen Victoria, that lasted between 1837 and 1901. 


For the author, the most important development during this period was the rise and solidification of Classic British Liberalism throughout the 19th Century. This movement in thinking brought about some of the biggest progress for individual liberty the world has ever seen. 

victorian era queen victoria
Source: Depositphotos

Whilst it has its origins in earlier centuries, this was the period in history that it became the dominant political movement in the United Kingdom.

Slavery was abolished (albeit legislation was introduced before Victoria's coronation), the Corn Laws were repealed, child labor was made illegal, and greater emphasis was placed on personal property right, the rule of law and civil liberties. 

Whilst working and living standards seem barbaric to us today, they must be seen in the context of their time. It was a significant improvement over previous eras like Feudalism and the "Dark Ages".

But this is just one opinion. We'll let you decide which of the many inventions of the Victorian age was the most important.

During the Victorian Period, the Industrial Revolution was well under way. This led to an explosion in innovation (helped in no small part by the dominance of liberalism in the UK). 

Many important inventions were created during this period, a lot of which are still in use today. Things like locomotives, cars, the telephone, electric lightbulb, x-rays, and many more, are a product of this period of history. 

Whilst the era is named after a British monarch and Empress of the British Empire, the Industrial Revolution was spreading around the world during this time. But it was not isolated to Europe and the British Empire.

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Other nations like Japan soon understood the importance of allowing creative destruction to take place and embraced industrialization. But for other nations, notably the Russian Empire, their rulers would continue to resist adopting it well into the 20th Century. 

victorian inventions bessemer process
Bessemer converter at former ironworks, Hogbo, Sweden. Source: Calle Eklund/V-wolf/Wikimedia Commons

What were some important inventions during the Victorian era?

The Victorian era saw a literal explosion in innovation and invention. The very fact we still remember this period is the fact that it was a period of enormous technological change.

Many things that we still use in our everyday lives can trace their origins to Victorian inventors. 

The following is a non-exhaustive list of important Victorian inventions. We would like to thank for compiling this list: 

Year Invention
1838 First photograph
1839 Photographic paper to develop pictures
1839 The invention of the first pedal bicycle
1839 The first paddle steamship
1840 First postage stamps introduced
1843 First Christmas card
1844 The invention of the Morse Code message
1845 The invention of rubber tires
1845 London Road in Nottingham covered with tarmac (tarmacadam) making roads smoother
1846 Sewing Machine invented
1849 Concrete development helped further construction
1849 The first glider flew by a pilot
1850s The invention of post boxes
1850 Petrol
1850 Sewing machine with possible home use
1851 The invention of ice cream in the USA
1852 Opening of a first public flushing toilet  in London
1854 Iron converted to steel, giving strength and making buildings and shipbuilding possible
1855 Safety matches
1856 Pasteurizing process
1859 Discovery of oil
1860 Horse-drawn tram
1863 The world’s first underground steam-powered railway becomes operational in London
1864 First jelly babies made
1872 The invention of the penny-farthing bicycle with huge front wheels and no breaks
1873 Typewriter invention
1875 The first chocolate Easter eggs
1876 The invention of the telephone on 7 March 1876
1877 Voice recording
1878 Electric street lighting starts in London
1879 The invention of the electric light bulb
1885 Safety Bicycle with chain, driven rear wheel and same size wheels
1883 Electric railway started
1884 Blackpool has the first British electric tram network
1885 The invention of the first petrol motorcar
1887 The invention of the gramophone
1888 Pneumatic tires by Dunlop
1888 Kodak box camera
1894 Moving pictures  invented
1890 The first electric public rail / underground train in London
1890 First comic book
1891 The first hydro-electric power station which generated electricity from water flow
1895 X-rays which revolutionized modern medicine
1895 Wireless radio

What was significant about the Victorian era?

The Victorian period of history is generally characterized by rapid change in technology, geopolitics, and socioeconomics around the world. Significant advances were made in medicine, scientific discovery, technological advances and enormous growth in population. 

Cities began to attract people from the countryside in search of work and, hopefully, fortune. In Britain, it is generally seen as a period of the rapid rise in power and influence of the British Empire around the world.

We also tend to associate the nineteenth century with the dominance of the Protestant work ethic, family values, religious observation, and institutional faith. Many modern political ideologies can also trace their origin to this period of time. 

This was in part helped by the rise in literacy around the developing world. Free time, whilst limited by today's standards, began to expand and tourism appeared as a new pastime

In short, the Victorian period was an era of significant change in people's everyday lives. Many of which we are still plagued by or enjoy (depending on your opinion) today. 

Following Queen Victoria's death, the world would never be the same again.

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