The British Empire was composed of the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates, and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. It began with the overseas possessions and trading posts established by England between the late 16th and early 18th centuries.
At its height it was the largest empire in history and, for over a century, was the foremost global power. By 1913 the British Empire held sway over 412 million people, 23 per cent of the world population at the time, and by 1920 it covered 35,500,000 km2 (13,700,000 sq mi), 24 percent of the Earth's total land area. As a result, its constitutional, legal, linguistic, and cultural legacy is widespread. At the peak of its power, it was described as "the empire on which the sun never sets", as the sun was always shining on at least one of its territories.During the Age of Discovery in the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal and Spain pioneered European exploration of the globe, and in the process established large overseas empires. Envious of the great wealth these empires generated, England, France, and the Netherlands began to establish colonies and trade networks of their own in the Americas and Asia. A series of wars in the 17th and 18th centuries with the Netherlands and France left England (Britain, following the 1707 Act of Union with Scotland) the dominant colonial power in North America. Britain became the dominant power in the Indian subcontinent after the East India Company's conquest of Mughal Bengal at the Battle of Plassey in 1757.
The American War of Independence resulted in Britain losing some of its oldest and most populous colonies in North America by 1783. British attention then turned towards Asia, Africa, and the Pacific. After the defeat of France in the Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815), Britain emerged as the principal naval and imperial power of the 19th century and expanded its imperial holdings. The period of relative peace (1815–1914) during which the British Empire became the global hegemon was later described as "Pax Britannica" ("British Peace"). Alongside the formal control that Britain exerted over its colonies, its dominance of much of world trade meant that it effectively controlled the economies of many regions, such as Asia and Latin America. Increasing degrees of autonomy were granted to its white settler colonies, some of which were reclassified as dominions.
By the start of the 20th century, Germany and the United States had begun to challenge Britain's economic lead. Military and economic tensions between Britain and Germany were major causes of the First World War, during which Britain relied heavily on its empire. The conflict placed enormous strain on its military, financial, and manpower resources. Although the empire achieved its largest territorial extent immediately after World War I, Britain was no longer the world's pre-eminent industrial or military power. In the Second World War, Britain's colonies in East Asia and Southeast Asia were occupied by the Empire of Japan. Despite the final victory of Britain and its allies, the damage to British prestige helped accelerate the decline of the empire. India, Britain's most valuable and populous possession, achieved independence as part of a larger decolonisation movement, in which Britain granted independence to most territories of the empire. The Suez Crisis confirmed Britain's decline as a global power, and the transfer of Hong Kong to China in 1997 marked for many the end of the British Empire. Fourteen overseas territories remain under British sovereignty. After independence, many former British colonies joined the Commonwealth of Nations, a free association of independent states. Fifteen of these, including the United Kingdom, retain a common monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II.

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  1. W

    I'm Looking For This Tile British Ceramic tile BCT12238 white

    Hi, I'm looking for a single (or a few) BCT 12238 tiles in white - discontinued, but need to replace a damaged one. Any ideas where I might find them? Thanks
  2. D

    I'm Looking For This Tile British Ceramic Tile Buxton Dark Beige CAN42957

    Hello Everyone. I'm hoping to find some spares of British Ceramic Tile Buxton Dark Beige (stock code CAN42957). They used to be stocked by Victorian Plumbing, amongst others. Would anyone happen to have a few left over or know who may have some? Thanks, John.
  3. J

    I'm Looking For This Tile British Ceramic Tiles Brooklyn Chalk 298x598mm wall tiles

    originally from B&Q need 5 if possible - but will buy more if avaliable
  4. G

    Looking for this British Tiling Company tile

    Does anyone know the name or code for these tiles? They're British Ceramic Tiles, beige/cream marble effect with gloss finish, approx 24 x42cm and I bought them about 8-10 years ago. I'm after some more after I broke a few fitting a new shower enclosure and tray. They will be discontinued now I...
  5. Kilo

    British Standards 5385 1/5

    On the off chance, does anyone on the forums have access to BS5385 or know if there is anyway I could access? I am trying to access through local/national libraries without success. Renting them from BSI is well above my paygrade! Any help would be appreciated.
  6. P

    I'm Looking For This Tile Looking for BCT Feature Illusion Blush BCT58656 British Ceramic Tile

    Hello, Does anyone know where I might find a supply of these discontinued tiles? I need to do some repair work on a bathroom that has these installed but they are no longer available. Thanks, Paul.
  7. B

    I'm Looking For This Tile Bath Store Newham manufacturer British Tiles

    I’m looking for bathroom tiles previously stocked by the Bath Store. We believe they were called Newham and made by British Tiles. Does anyone have spares or know where the old stock went?
  8. B

    British Ceramic floor tiles

    Can anyone let me know if you have used British Ceramic Florence Oyster floor tiles with underfloor heating? Concerned they may crack.
  9. N

    Searching for Elgin Marbles Nero floor tiles BCT17363 by British Ceramic Tile (Any amount)

    Searching for Elgin Marbles Nero floor tiles BCT17363 by British Ceramic Tile (Any amount) Whats out there??? Cash Waiting!!!
  10. J

    Expert opinions needed - British Ceramic Tile

    Hi there, I am currently in a dispute with the liquidators of BCT regarding some pallets of matt white tiles that were sent that the sizing was all over the place. I am also having to lift several floors due to the glaze in the floor tiles being poor, and tiles discolouring. . . . . . not to...
  11. S

    Wanted British Ceramic tiles

    Hi I was wondering if anyone could help in finding some tiles originally made by British ceramic tiles - BCT42594 a Newton Beige Matt - size 498x498 mm (500x500mm). would appreciate any help in identifying who has some stock. Lookin for approx 10 packs/boxes. thanks
  12. T

    I'm Looking For This Tile BCT 46097

    Hi, I'm looking for HD Komo dark grey, British Ceramic Tiles 46097. Thanks
  13. S

    Hopeless Search for a specific mosaic hexagon tile - British Ceramic Tile, Matte Finish, BCT Hexagon Mosaics

    Hi all, I'm trying to find some specific tiles, see pic attached. Has anyone seen them anywhere, apparently they were made by British ceramic, that went out of business. But I'm really hoping to find them somewhere, any ideas would be much appreciated as these are perfect and I can't find...
  14. Dan

    Is there an Alternative to The Tile Association (TTA)? (Unless you are with an association, you can't now tile to British Standards!!!!!)

    A couple of options perhaps, but they tend to come back to TTA.
  15. Dan

    Is there an Alternative to The Tile Association (TTA)? (Unless you are with an association, you can't now tile to British Standards!!!!!)

    Alternative to The Tile Association (TTA)? We have no alternative to The Tile Association do we? So tiling is apparently only done to spec if you're a TTA member. "Or some other association". So I'm wondering what...
  16. Dan

    Tiling Standards - British Tiling Standards Download and Information

    Tiling Standards - British Tiling Standards Download and Information British Standard in Wall and Floor Tiling British Standards in Wall and Floor Tiling BS 5385 Register at for free to obtain the British Standards in Wall and Floor Tiling BS 5385. That's both:- British...
  17. J

    I'm Looking For This Tile British Ceramics Alfred Beige feature floor

    Hi there, I am looking for two boxes of BCT 49319 in beige, if anyone has any good ideas please
  18. J

    I'm Looking For This Tile Looking for British Ceramics tiles Alfred Feature Beige

    Hi there good folks, I need two boxes of British Ceramics, Alfred Feature floor, Beige, BCT49319, obviously they have gone into administration but I really could do with two boxes for an alteration to a previously tiled floor, any suggestions would be gratefully receive. Jon
  19. J

    Wanted British Ceramic Tile BCT30829 x 2 boxes

    Hi - Following BCT going into Administration, I am seeking 2 boxes of BCT30829 Shift Grey Multiuse R10 (298 x 598mm). I can arrange collection from mainland UK. Thanks.
  20. D

    I'm Looking For This Tile British Ceramic Tiles

    Hi Guys. I’m looking for just a couple of plain, gloss white tiles 245mm x 330 to replace a couple of tiles after fitting a new shower in a cubicle. British Ceramic tiles went into administration on 30th January this year so I’m hopeful that there may be a few around still. Mike
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