Snodgrass, Neil

Snodgrass, Neil
fl. late 1790s Scotland
Scottish inventor of the scutcher for opening and cleaning raw cotton.
Raw cotton arrived in Britain in tightly packed bales. Before spinning, the fibres had to be opened out, and dirt, seeds and bits of plant had to be removed. This was an unpleasant and fatiguing job usually carried out by women and children. By 1800 it could be done by two machines. The first stage in opening was the "willow" and then the cotton was passed through the "scutcher" to open it further and give it a more effective cleaning. These machines reduced the labour of the operation to about one-twentieth of what it had been. The scutching machine was constructed by Snodgrass and first used at Houston's mill in Johnstone, near Paisley, in 1797. It was derived from the threshing machine invented by Andrew Meikle of Phantassie in 1786. In the scutcher, revolving bars beat the cotton to separate the fibres from the trash. As the dirt fell out, the cotton was blown forward by a fan and was rolled up into a lap at the end of the machine. Scutchers were not introduced to Manchester until 1808 or 1809 and further improvements were soon made to them.
Further Reading
R.L.Hills, 1970, Power in the Industrial Revolution, Manchester (covers the development of the scutcher).
W.English, 1970, The Textile Industry, London (provides a brief account).

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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