During the industrialisation phase of Coventry's evolution, connections were made with the expanding national transport networks. The Coventry Canal was opened in the late-1700s, and one of the first trunk railway lines, the London and Birmingham Railway, was built through Coventry and opened in 1838.
Residences for Cash's employees alongside Coventry Canal (photo 2008)It is known that a silk weaving company was founded in Coventry in 1627, and at about the turn of the century a ribbon weaving works was established by a Mr. Bird (probably William Bird, silkman, who was mayor in 1705), assisted by a number of Huguenot refugees who brought with them silk and ribbon weaving skills. From small beginnings, the trade grew rapidly and by the end of the 18th century it had become the basis of the city's economy. Coventry began to recover, and again became a major centre of a number of clothing trades. At first single-shuttle hand-looms were used, later joined by the engine or many-shuttle looms, and by 1818 there were 5,483 single hand-looms and 3,008 engine looms in Coventry, with nearly 10,000 workers employed in the trade rising to a peak of 25,000 in about 1857.
A major employer was J&J Cash Ltd (Cash's), a silk weaving company founded in the 1840s by John and Joseph Cash in Foleshill.
This first industrial boom came to a sudden end during the 1860s when foreign imports killed off the industry, and Coventry went into a slump. However, before long other industries began to develop and Coventry regained prosperity. Industries which developed included watch and clock making, manufacture of sewing machines, and from the 1880s onwards bicycle manufacture.