The Spinning Jenny

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  • Intro

    The spinning of cotton into threads for weaving into cloth had traditionally taken place in the homes of textile workers - known as 'cottage industries'. But the 18th century saw the emergence of the 'Industrial Revolution', the great age of steam, canals and factories that changed the face of the British economy forever. James Hargreaves' 'Spinning Jenny', the patent for which is shown here, would revolutionise the process of cotton spinning. The machine used 8 spindles onto which the thread was spun, so by turning a single wheel, the operator could now spin 8 threads at once. This increased to 80 with improvements in the technology.

     

    New 'manufactories' (an early word for 'factory') were a the result of new technologies such as this one. Large industrial buildings usually employed one central source of power to drive a whole network of machines. Richard Arkwright's cotton factories in Nottingham and Cromford, for example, employed nearly 600 people by the 1770s, including many small children, whose nimble hands made light-work of spinning.

     

    Shelfmark: 37/840m.28.

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