Power Loom - Edmund Cartwright (1743-1823)
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Reverend Edmund Cartwright patented the power loom.
The power loom was a steam-powered, mechanically operated version of a regular loom, an invention that combined threads to make cloth.
In 1785, Edmund Cartwright patented the first power loom and set up a factory in Doncaster, England to manufacture cloth. A prolific inventor, Edmund Cartwright also invented a wool-combing machine in 1789, continued to improve his power loom, invented a steam engine that used alcohol and a machine for making rope in 1797, and aided Robert Fulton with his steamboats.
Cartwright's power loom needed to be improved upon and several inventors did just that. It was improved upon by William Horrocks, the inventor of the variable speed batton (1813) and American, Francis Cabot Lowell. The power loom became commonly used after 1820.
View Image: Power Loom When the power loom became efficient, women replaced most men as weavers in the textile factories.
Power Looms in America
The first American power loom was constructed in 1813 by a group of Boston merchants headed by Francis Cabot Lowell.
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The city of Lowell and other early industrial American cities grew supporting a nearby Francis Cabot Lowell's designed power loom, an amended version of the British power loom invented by Edmund Cartwright. The power loom allowed the wholesale manufacture of cloth from ginned cotton, itself a recent innovation of Eli Whitney's.
According to the Lowell National Historical Park Handbook, for the first two centuries of American history, the weaving of cloth was a cottage industry, even after the introduction of power spinning frames in 1790. Yarn produced by machines in water-powered factories was still put out for weaving on hand looms in homes. All cloths were woven in basically the same way, although weavers followed patterns to produce cloths with intricate weaves. Because the operations of a loom focus on such a small working area, its movements must be exact. And weaving, as opposed to spinning, requires a cycle of sequential steps and involves reciprocal movement as well as circular. In a power loom, movements coordinated by human hand and eye have to be replicated through the precise interaction of levers, cams, gears, and springs. For these reasons, weaving was the last step in textile production to be mechanized.
Successful power looms were in operation in England by the early 1800s, but those made in America were inadequate. Francis Cabot Lowell realized that for the United States to develop a practical power loom, it would have to borrow British technology. While visiting English textile mills, he memorized the workings of their power looms. Upon his return, he recruited master mechanic Paul Moody to help him recreate and develop what he had seen. They succeeded in adapting the British design, and the machine shop established at the Waltham mills by Lowell and Moody continued to make improvements in the loom. With the introduction of a dependable power loom, weaving could keep up with spinning, and the American textile industry was underway.
Reverend Edmund Cartwright (1743-1823)
Edmund Cartwright was originally from Nottingham. After graduating from Oxford University in 1779, he became the rector of Goadby church, Marwood in Leicestershire. In 1784 he visited Arkwright's cotton-spinning mill. Cartwright was sure that he could develop similar technology to benefit weaving.
In 1785, he patented the first version of his power loom and set up a factory in Doncaster. He was no businessman, however, and he went bankrupt in 1793, which forced him to close his factory.
Cartwright was a prolific inventor. He patented a wool-combing machine in 1789 and a steam engine that used alcohol, as well as a machine for making rope, in 1797. He even helped the American, Robert Fulton, with his steamboat inventions.
The power loom was quickly integrated into the weaving industry. It was improved upon by William Horrocks, famous for his invention of the variable speed batton in 1813. The power loom was used alongside Crompton's Spinning Mule in many factories. Although Cartwright did not make very much money from any of his patents, in 1809 the House of Commons voted him a sum of £10000 in recognition of his contribution to the textile industry. Cartwright retired to a farm in Kent, where he spent the rest of his life improving farm machinery.
The invention of the steam engine by James Watt in 1776 represented a major advance in the development of powered machines. It was first applied to an industrial operation - the spinning of cotton - in 1785. A new kind of work-slave it not only marked the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, but also the coming age of mass production.In the England of the 18th century five important inventions in the textile industry advanced the automation of work processes. 1) John Kay's flying shuttle in 1733 , which permitted the weaving of larger widths of cloth and significantly increased weaving speed, 2) Edmund Cartwright's power loom in 1785, which increased weaving speed still further, 3) James Hargreaves' spinning jenny in 1764, 4) Richard Arkwright's water frame and 5) Samuel Crompton's spinning mule in 1779, whereby the last three inventions improved the speed and quality of thread-spinning operations. Those developments, combined with the invention of the steam engine, in short time led to the creation of new machine-slaves and the mechanization of the production of most major goods, such as iron, paper, leather, glass and bricks.Large-scale machine production was soon applied in many manufacturing sectors and resulted in a reduction of production costs. Yet the widespread use of the novel work-slaves also led to new demands concerning the work force's qualifications. The utilization of machines enabled a differentiated kind of division of labor and eventuated in a (further) specialization of skills. While before many goods were produced by skilled craftsmen the use of modern machinery increased the demand for semiskilled and unskilled workers. Also, the nature of the work process altered from one mainly dependent on physical power to one primarily dominated by technology and an increasing proportion of the labor force employed to operate machines.
The spinning jenny is a multi-spool spinning wheel. It was invented circa 1764 by James Hargreaves in Stanhill, near Blackburn, Lancashire in the north west of England (although Thomas Highs is another candidate identified as the inventor). The device dramatically reduced the amount of work needed to produce yarn, with a single worker able to work eight or more spools at once.
The water frame is the name given to the spinning frame, when water power was used to drive it. Both are credited to Richard Arkwright who patented and exploited the technology. It was based on an invention by Thomas Highs and the patent was later overturned. John Kay, a clock maker and mechanic who helped Highs build the spinning frame, sold the design to Arkwright (for what might be considered a derisory sum). It was Arkwright, however, who made the system work, realising that account had to be taken of the fibre lengths in the batch being spun.
The water frame is derived from the use of a water wheel to drive a number of spinning frames. The water wheel provided more power to the spinning frame than human operators, reducing the amount of human labor needed and increasing the spindle count dramatically. However, unlike the spinning jenny, the water frame could only spin one thread at a time until Samuel Crompton combined the two inventions into his spinning mule in 1779. However the water frame could be assembled with hundreds of spinning heads in a single building and was easy to operate.
In 1771 Arkwright installed the water frame in his cotton mill at Cromford, Derbyshire, on the River Derwent, creating one of the first factories that was specifically built to house machinery rather than just bringing workers together. He is considered an innovator as he combined water power,the water frame and machine factories.
The spinning mule was created in 1779 by Samuel Crompton. It was a combination of the water frame (created by Thomas Highs, initially falsely attributed to Richard Arkwright) and the spinning jenny (created by either John Kay or by James Hargreaves; sources differ). In short, it created high quality textiles, in a short amount of time.
Before cloth can be woven, the yarn has to be carefully spun. This was done by women and young children, but several spinsters were needed to keep each weaver at work. Several labor-saving machines were developed in the mid 18th century enabling yarn to be spun faster. The spinning mule was a culmination of these, so named because it represented the hybridization of two previous and separate inventions.
The mule produced strong, but thin yarn, which was suitable for any kind of textile. Initially, it was used for spinning cotton, but later applied to other fibres. The development of the mule was a step towards increased textile production in factories as the mule was too large for most homes. The reason for combining was because the spinning jenny could spin more thread at a time and the water frame used water power instead of man power. The combination of these two meant that the spinning mule could now spin more thread using water power.
Samuel Crompton was too poor to be able to apply for a patent for his invention. Instead, he sold the rights to David Dale, who patented it and collected the profits. Later, the mule was run off steam power. It has helped the advancement of the textile industry.
The spinning inventions were significant in enabling a great expansion to occur in the production of textiles, particularly cotton ones. Cotton and iron were leading sectors in the Industrial Revolution. Both industries underwent a great expansion at about the same time, which can be used to identify the start of the Industrial Revolution.