Clio Edition 4 - page 23

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built – by 1850 the canal network was 4,000
miles long.
James Watt was one of the period’s most
influential inventors (he eventually had a
unit of measurement of electricity named
after him: the watt, in honour of his
achievements.) Watt’s inventions include
the rotary engine and the double action
engine. Despite being born nearly half a
century after the first working steam engine
was patented, Watt’s new ideas were crucial
to the efficiency of steam engines across
Britain. After patenting his first, improved
steam engine in 1769, Watt and Matthew
Boulton became partners in 1775 and
became the founders of the most important
engineering firm in the country. Their
orders came from mine owners, paper, flour,
cotton and iron mills and distilleries and
canals.
Amongst the constantly improving
industries, textiles and iron were the most
rapidly advancing. Inventions such as the
Flying Shuttle, invented in 1733 by John
Kay, were the turning points for the textiles
industry. Before the flying shuttle, the
process of cloth making was long and slow
as only the width of a person’s arms could be
made at a time. However, after its invention
the amount of cloth produced rocketed and
helped create more employment in making
spinning machines, as a shortage of thread
became a problem faced by industry. The
spinning Jenny was the answer to the thread
problems. James Hargreaves spent time
considering how to improve the thread
making process and, in time, increased the
spinners’ productivity, meeting the demand
for yarn and thread.
John
Kay’s
industrial career continued as he successfully
teamed up with Richard Arkwright in
the 1750s and during the late 1760s, the
two developed a working machine that
span four strands of thread at once. This
then increased to 96 strands and caused
Arkwright to pay for a patent that stopped
others copying his invention. The machine
later became known as a Water Frame, as it
was powered by a water wheel. In modern
money, Arkwright made about 30 million
pounds from his inventions.
In 1769 Richard Arkwright created a
factory near Derby which is considered to
be the first proper factory in England. By
employing
all the
highly
skilled
workers
in the area
and placing
them in
his new
factory,
Arkwright
managed
to make the mills more efficient, producing
more items as the new workers understood
his machinery and could work at speed.
This system spread and soon the old ways
of skilled workers making things either at
home or in smaller sheds came to an end.
The Arkwright factory was admired and
copied by many around the world. It was one
of the key developments that marked the
ending of an “old regime” and the beginning
of a new one.
A spinning Jenny -
The invention which
solved the thread
shortage
A very early steam
locomotive
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