Holden, Sir Isaac

Holden, Sir Isaac
b. 7 May 1807 Hurlet, between Paisley and Glasgow, Scotland
d. 13 August 1897
British developer of the wool-combing machine.
Isaac Holden's father, who had the same name, had been a farmer and lead miner at Alston in Cumbria before moving to work in a coal-mine near Glasgow. After a short period at Kilbarchan grammar school, the younger Isaac was engaged first as a drawboy to two weavers and then, after the family had moved to Johnstone, Scotland, worked in a cotton-spinning mill while attending night school to improve his education. He was able to learn Latin and bookkeeping, but when he was about 15 he was apprenticed to an uncle as a shawl-weaver. This proved to be too much for his strength so he returned to scholastic studies and became Assistant to an able teacher, John Kennedy, who lectured on physics, chemistry and history, which he also taught to his colleague. The elder Isaac died in 1826 and the younger had to provide for his mother and younger brother, but in 1828, at the age of 21, he moved to a teaching post in Leeds. He filled similar positions in Huddersfield and Reading, where in October 1829 he invented and demonstrated the lucifer match but did not seek to exploit it. In 1830 he returned because of ill health to his mother in Scotland, where he began to teach again. However, he was recommended as a bookkeeper to William Townend, member of the firm of Townend Brothers, Cullingworth, near Bingley, Yorkshire. Holden moved there in November 1830 and was soon involved in running the mill, eventually becoming a partner.
In 1833 Holden urged Messrs Townend to introduce seven wool-combing machines of Collier's designs, but they were found to be very imperfect and brought only trouble and loss. In 1836 Holden began experimenting on the machines until they showed reasonable success. He decided to concentrate entirely on developing the combing machine and in 1846 moved to Bradford to form an alliance with Samuel Lister. A joint patent in 1847 covered improvements to the Collier combing machine. The "square motion" imitated the action of the hand-comber more closely and was patented in 1856. Five more patents followed in 1857 and others from 1858 to 1862. Holden recommended that the machines should be introduced into France, where they would be more valuable for the merino trade. This venture was begun in 1848 in the joint partnership of Lister \& Holden, with equal shares of profits. Holden established a mill at Saint-Denis, first with Donisthorpe machines and then with his own "square motion" type. Other mills were founded at Rheims and at Croix, near Roubaix. In 1858 Lister decided to retire from the French concerns and sold his share to Holden. Soon after this, Holden decided to remodel all their machinery for washing and carding the gill machines as well as perfecting the square comb. Four years of excessive application followed, during which time £20,000 was spent in experiments in a small mill at Bradford. The result fully justified the expenditure and the Alston Works was built in Bradford.
Holden was a Liberal and from 1865 to 1868 he represented Knaresborough in Parliament. Later he became the Member of Parliament for the Northern Division of the Riding, Yorkshire, and then for the town of Keighley after the constituencies had been altered. He was liberal in his support of religious, charitable and political objectives. His house at Oakworth, near Keighley, must have been one of the earliest to have been lit by electricity.
Principal Honours and Distinctions
Baronet 1893.
1847, with Samuel Lister, British patent no. 11,896 (improved Collier combing machine). 1856. British patent no. 1,058 ("square motion" combing machine).
1857. British patent no. 278 1857, British patent no. 279 1857, British patent no. 280 1857, British patent no. 281 1857, British patent no. 3,177 1858, British patent no. 597 1859, British patent no. 52 1860, British patent no. 810 1862, British patent no. 1,890 1862, British patent no. 3,394
Further Reading
J.Hogg (ed.), c.1888, Fortunes Made in Business, London (provides an account of Holden's life).
Obituary, 1897, Engineer 84.
Obituary, 1897, Engineering 64.
E.M.Sigsworth, 1973, "Sir Isaac Holden, Bt: the first comber in Europe", in N.B.Harte and K.G.Ponting (eds), Textile History and Economic History, Essays in Honour of
Miss Julia de Lacy Mann, Manchester.
W.English, 1969, The Textile Industry, London (provides a good explanation of the square motion combing machine).

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

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  • HOLDEN, SIR ISAAC —    inventor, born at Hurlet, Renfrewshire; worked in a cotton mill in Paisley, but betook himself to teaching, and in 1829, while a teacher of chemistry in Reading, discovered the principle of the lucifer match; turning to wool combing as a means …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Sir Isaac Holden, 1st Baronet — (7 May 1807 ndash; 13 August 1897) was an inventor and manufacturer, who is known both for his work with wool combing and with matches.He was born in the village of Hurlet near Glasgow, and from the age of ten worked in a cotton mill. He became… …   Wikipedia

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  • Holden Baronets — There have been three Baronetcies created for people with the surname Holden. The Holden Baronetcy, of Oakworth House in the County of York, was created in the Baronetage of the United Kingdom in 1893 for the inventor, manufacturer and Liberal… …   Wikipedia

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  • Oakworth — Keighley Road, Oakworth Oakworth is a village in West Yorkshire, England, near Keighley, by the River Worth. The name Oakworth indicates that the village was first established in a heavily wooded area. Oakworth railway station is on the route of… …   Wikipedia

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  • List of Privy Counsellors (1910–1936) — This is a List of Privy Counsellors of the United Kingdom appointed during the reign of King George V, from 1910 to 1936.1910*Sir Samuel Thomas Evans (1859–1918) *Prince Arthur Frederick Patrick Albert of Connaught (1883–1938) *Francis Knollys,… …   Wikipedia

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