Arkwright’s textile machines

Posted by jerry on June 20th, 2007 — Posted in History, Journal, Technology

They may look basic, but these machines helped bring about a revolution – the Industrial Revolution no less! These were the machines that Ned Ludd – founder of the Luddites movement protested so violently against. He realised that by mechanising certain processes, there would be massive social upheaval as people were replaced by machines. You can see these examples for yourself at London’s Science Museum in South Kensington.

Arkwright spinning machine

Richard Arkwright developed these innovations (not inventions – they had precursors) into a system between 1765 and 1775 – about the time Capt James Cook was checking out the transit of venus and checking out the east coast of Australia. The system came to be known as the textile mill or factory.

This concept arose from his appreciation that the manufacture of cotton yarn was a series of discrete operations that could be carried out by special purpose machines, brought together in one place and driven from a single power source, such as a water mill, or later, a steam engine. Before this time, most textiles were produced individually in cottage industries by spinners and weavers. The production of cotton lagged way behind that of wool or linen.

But there were impacts. The factory system brought England to the forefront of textile manufacturing in the nineteenth century, but it also brought about the collapse of the of the Indian cotton industry – while demand for raw cotton sustained the slave economy in the USA.

Carding machine
According to the museum info cards the carding machine disentangles, loosens and straightens the cotton fibres. The fibres are fed between two drums which are covered with leather ‘cards’ embedded with bent wire teeth. A third drum strips off the fibres in a continuous sheet which is then lifted off to form a ‘sliver’.

carding machine

Lantern drawing frame
The sliver is then passed to the lantern frame where it is elongated and narrowed, while being twisted to that it becomes strong enough to handle. The sliver is then called a ‘roving’ or ‘slubbing’ (hence the term ‘slub linen’).

Lantern drawing frame

Four spool and eight spool spinning machines
The four spool machine closely resembles the design Arkwright patented in 1769. Both machines spin yarnfrom teh cotton rovings produced by the drawing frame.

The later eight-spooled machine effectively doubled output. Both were powered by water wheels.
spinning machine

The eight-spool machine was effectively two four-spool machines joined together.

Arkwright spinning machine

Cheers
Jerry

9 Comments »

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[…] Did you know the term luddite has at is source a connection to textiles? Jerry has written a post on Arkwright’s textile machines that he spotted in the London’s Science Museum. These machines are the machines Ned Ludd and his Luddites protested against. […]

Posted on June 20, 2007 at 8:01 am

Comment by Linn

Ah…some of my favorite machines.

Posted on June 20, 2007 at 5:37 pm

Pingback by Machines that changed the world « In a Minute Ago

[…] 20, 2007 Machines that changed the world Posted by sharonb under Historical textiles , Textiles  Did you know the term luddite has atis source a connection to textiles? Jerry has written a post on Arkwright’s textile machines that he spotted in the London’s Science Museum. These machines are the machines Ned Ludd and his Luddites protested against. […]

Posted on August 29, 2007 at 9:41 pm

Comment by Jim Sharp

We are putting together a display about the early history of textile machines in the 18th and 19th century. Are the photos on your blog copyright?

The information was very helpful.

JS

Posted on April 21, 2008 at 11:01 pm

Comment by jerry

They are photos I took – you may use them freely as long as you attribute them to me

Cheers
Jerry

Posted on April 21, 2008 at 11:56 pm

Comment by D. Rama Sarma

We at Nehru Science Centre, Mumbai, India are trying to develop a gallery on textiles for which we plan to make a replica of the arkwright’s models. I would be greatful if you could mail me photographs from atleast two to 3 angles for the carding machine.

Posted on May 16, 2008 at 2:49 pm

Comment by jerry

Thank you for your interest Mr Rama Sarma. I suggest you write to the museum for photos of other angles – I took those photos over a year ago when visiting the UK, and it would be neither practical, nor appropriate for me to return there to take such photos. The museum research service may be able to help out.

Cheers
Jerry

Posted on May 16, 2008 at 4:44 pm

Comment by Emma Mills

Hi Is It ok that I used one of the photos for a Tech project? thanks. Emma

Posted on December 7, 2009 at 3:29 am

Comment by jerry

Hi Emma

Yes it’s fine as long as you credit this blog post as the source – http://lostbiro.com/blog/?p=846

Cheers
Jerry

Posted on December 7, 2009 at 6:03 am

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