Textile Industry and Machinery of the Industrial Revolution

A restored textile mill in Lowell, Massachusetts
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The?Industrial Revolution?was the transition to new manufacturing processes in the period from about 1760 to sometime between 1820 and 1840.

During this transition, hand production methods changed to machines and new chemical manufacturing and iron production processes were introduced. Water power efficiency improved and the increasing use of?steam power increased. Machine tools were?developed and the factory system was on the rise.?Textiles?were the main industry of the Industrial Revolution as far as employment, the value of output and capital invested. The textile industry was also the first to use modern production methods.?The Industrial Revolution began in?Great Britain?and most of the important technological innovations were British.

The Industrial Revolution was a major turning point in history; almost every aspect of daily life changed in some way. Average income and population began to grow exponentially. Some economists say that the major impact of the Industrial Revolution was that the?standard of living?for the general population began to increase consistently for the first time in history, but others have said that it did not begin to really improve until the late 19th and 20th centuries.?At approximately the same time the Industrial Revolution was occurring, Britain was undergoing an?agricultural revolution, which also helped to improve living standards and provided surplus labor available for industry.

Textile Machinery

Several inventions in textile machinery occurred in a relatively short time period during the Industrial Revolution. Here is a timeline highlighting some of them:

  • 1733?Flying shuttle?invented by John Kay:?an improvement to looms that enabled weavers to weave faster.
  • 1742?Cotton mills were first opened in England.
  • 1764?Spinning jenny?invented by James Hargreaves:?the first machine to improve upon the spinning wheel.
  • 1764?Water frame?invented by Richard Arkwright:?the first powered textile machine.
  • 1769?Arkwright patented the water frame.
  • 1770?Hargreaves patented the Spinning Jenny.
  • 1773?The first all-cotton textiles were produced in factories.
  • 1779?Crompton invented the?spinning mule?that allowed for greater control over the weaving process.
  • 1785?Cartwright patented the?power loom.?It was improved upon by William Horrocks, known for his invention of the variable speed batton in 1813.
  • 1787?Cotton goods production had increased 10 fold since 1770.
  • 1789?Samuel Slater?brought textile machinery design to the US.
  • 1790?Arkwright built the first steam-powered textile factory in Nottingham, England.
  • 1792?Eli Whitney invented the?cotton gin:?the machine that automated the separation of cottonseed from the short-staple cotton fiber.
  • 1804?Joseph Marie Jacquard?invented the Jacquard Loom that weaved complex designs. Jacquard invented a way of automatically controlling the warp and weft threads on a silk loom by recording patterns of holes in a string of cards.
  • 1813?William?Horrocks invented the variable speed batton (for an improved power loom).
  • 1856?William Perkin invented the first synthetic dye.