Are we a bit hard on ourselves as a nation I wonder? 150 years ago we were dying in the ditches, we're not doing that bad in fairness. The rest of our European brethren were colonial powers while we were in pretty bad shape! Look at eastern Europe that many would see as being second tier in some regards, the old money is clear to be seen.
In terms of infrastructure for example around the same time we were without a spud the London Underground started.
Please don't see this as Brit bashing in terms of why we were where we were. For whatever reason we were in the gutter and have come a long way in my estimation.