You’ll remember this of course from the ordering exercise we did in groups in class… I will also post the sheet we used in that session to refresh your memories further on the different textile developments during this time.
This is all fairly straightforward, so it is a good topic to have in your head, ready for the ‘Social and Economic History’ options on the essay paper.
So, hold on to your hats: here we go!
- The old domestic system had involved small-scale cottage industries. New inventions in the textile industry changed al this, moving industry into large mills with new methods of mass production. This all kicked off Britain’s Industrial Revolution.
- In 1733, John Kay invented the Flying Shuttle. This machine wove broadcloth at great speed. It was still used in cottages.
- In 1764, James Hargreaves invented the Spinning Jenny (named after his daughter. She may have preferred a pony, but hey, the thought was there). This machine could spin 8 or more spindles on one treadle, increasing the speed of spinning.
- Richard Arkwright was a man with a dream: he wanted to develop large-scale production methods for the textile industry (I’m guessing Jenny’s pony-related dreams were waaaaaaay more exciting, but, each to their own, and all that). In 1769 he produced the Water Frame, which was powered by, you guessed it- water. This was too big to fit into cottages, so the first factory was set up to house it, in Cromford, Derbyshire, in 1771. And lo, the factory system had begun…
- At first, most machines were water powered, like the Water Frame. Later on, the new-fangled steam engines began to be used to power machinery, too. Inventors kept refining their ideas to boost production: in 1779, Samuel Crompton invented the Spinning Mule, and after that, in 1785, came the excitingly named Power Loom, invented by Edmund Cartwright.
- By 1790, the clever inventor peeps had come up with a bleaching process. Oo-er. Thomas Bell had also worked out how to print fabric using a cylinder in 1783; clever boy. After 1815, new and improved Power Looms (btw: you have to read that phrase as POOOOOOOWWWWWWEEEEERRRR LOOOOOOOOMMMSSSS… it is actually a legal requirement) were manufactured by Radcliffe & Horrocks.
- Samuel Greg started a factory at Styal in 1784. Other big fish in the factory pond were Oldknow in Stockport, Peel in Bury (that’s northern ‘Buuuuuuury’, not East Anglian ‘Berry’) and (never mind the) Horrocks in Preston.
- Large spinning mills sprang up in towns like Oldham, Manchester, Derby, Preston and Bolton.
- Textile manufacturing boomed. During the 1850s it accounted for 60% of Britain’s exports. Stirring stuff.