Arkwright, Sir Richard

Arkwright, Sir Richard
b. 23 December 1732 Preston, England
d. 3 August 1792 Cromford, England
English inventor of a machine for spinning cotton.
Arkwright was the youngest of thirteen children and was apprenticed to a barber; when he was about 18, he followed this trade in Bol ton. In 1755 he married Patients Holt, who bore him a son before she died, and he remarried in 1761, to Margaret Biggins. He prospered until he took a public house as well as his barber shop and began to lose money. After this failure, he travelled around buying women's hair for wigs.
In the late 1760s he began spinning experiments at Preston. It is not clear how much Arkwright copied earlier inventions or was helped by Thomas Highs and John Kay but in 1768 he left Preston for Nottingham, where, with John Smalley and David Thornley as partners, he took out his first patent. They set up a mill worked by a horse where machine-spun yarn was produced successfully. The essential part of this process lay in drawing out the cotton by rollers before it was twisted by a flyer and wound onto the bobbin. The partners' resources were not sufficient for developing their patent so Arkwright found new partners in Samuel Need and Jedediah Strutt, hosiers of Nottingham and Derby. Much experiment was necessary before they produced satisfactory yarn, and in 1771 a water-driven mill was built at Cromford, where the spinning process was perfected (hence the name "waterframe" was given to his spinning machine); some of this first yarn was used in the hosiery trade. Sales of all-cotton cloth were initially limited because of the high tax on calicoes, but the tax was lowered in 1774 by Act of Parliament, marking the beginning of the phenomenal growth of the cotton industry. In the evidence for this Act, Arkwright claimed that he had spent £12,000 on his machine. Once Arkwright had solved the problem of mechanical spinning, a bottleneck in the preliminary stages would have formed but for another patent taken out in 1775. This covered all preparatory processing, including some ideas not invented by Arkwright, with the result that it was disputed in 1783 and finally annulled in 1785. It contained the "crank and comb" for removing the cotton web off carding engines which was developed at Cromford and solved the difficulty in carding. By this patent, Arkwright had mechanized all the preparatory and spinning processes, and he began to establish water-powered cotton mills even as far away as Scotland. His success encouraged many others to copy him, so he had great difficulty in enforcing his patent Need died in 1781 and the partnership with Strutt ended soon after. Arkwright became very rich and financed other spinning ventures beyond his immediate control, such as that with Samuel Oldknow. It was estimated that 30,000 people were employed in 1785 in establishments using Arkwright's patents. In 1786 he received a knighthood for delivering an address of thanks when an attempt to assassinate George III failed, and the following year he became High Sheriff of Derbyshire. He purchased the manor of Cromford, where he died in 1792.
Principal Honours and Distinctions
Knighted 1786.
1769, British patent no. 931.
1775, British patent no. 1,111.
Further Reading
R.S.Fitton, 1989, The Arkwrights, Spinners of Fortune, Manchester (a thorough scholarly work which is likely to remain unchallenged for many years).
R.L.Hills, 1973, Richard Arkwright and Cotton Spinning, London (written for use in schools and concentrates on Arkwright's technical achievements).
R.S.Fitton and A.P.Wadsworth, 1958, The Strutts and the Arkwrights, Manchester (concentrates on the work of Arkwright and Strutt).
A.P.Wadsworth and L.Mann, 1931, The Cotton Trade and Industrial Lancashire, Manchester (covers the period leading up to the Industrial Revolution).
F.Nasmith, 1932, "Richard Arkwright", Transactions of the Newcomen Society 13 (looks at the actual spinning invention).
R.L.Hills, 1970, Power in the Industrial Revolution, Manchester (discusses the technical problems of Arkwright's invention).

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

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  • Richard Arkwright — Sir Richard Arkwright Sir Richard Arkwright (* 23. Dezember 1732 in Preston, Lancashire; † 3. August 1792 in Cromford) war ein begüterter Textilindustrieller und Erfinder zahlreicher Patente im Bereich des Spinnens. Er gil …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Richard Arkwright — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Arkwright. Richard Arkwright …   Wikipédia en Français

  • sir — /serr/, n. 1. a respectful or formal term of address used to a man: No, sir. 2. (cap.) the distinctive title of a knight or baronet: Sir Walter Scott. 3. (cap.) a title of respect for some notable personage of ancient times: Sir Pandarus of Troy …   Universalium

  • Richard — /ri shahrd /; Fr. /rddee shannrdd /, n. Maurice /maw rees /; Fr. /moh rddees /, ( the Rocket ), born 1921, Canadian hockey player. /rich euhrd/, n. a male given name. * * * (as used in expressions) Allen Richard Arkwright Sir Richard Attlee… …   Universalium

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